When I discovered Audiobooks, the efficiency in which I learned was completely transformed. For many of us, we have to intentionally set aside time in the morning or before bed to read.
Usually, it's not for lack of desire to learn or read that we have to force ourselves to make time, it's just... life. Life has a tricky way of sucking our time away from us every day before we even bat an eye.
Yet, it doesn't take away the importance of daily learning and self-growth. The life hack that will allow you to reclaim your time for this is sharing learning not with just your visual sense, but your auditory sense as well.
Think about all the time during your day that your hands are busy, but your brain is idle. This could be in front of the mirror in the morning, commuting to and from work or school, on your lunch break, getting ready for bed, and so on. I bet you could scrape together at least 30 minutes out of your daily mundane tasks pretty easily.
It took a few months to master, but I feel that I've now gotten into a solid routine to maximize my time for learning throughout the day, every day. Typically, I physically read one to two books a year, which is a depressing statistic; however, in 2018 I listened to 19 books, and this does not count relistening to some of them.
Talk about an exponential increase in brain food consumption!
Every morning while getting ready, I listen to The Daily*, a podcast by the New York Times that updates me on major current events. It's usually 20 to 30 minutes, which is perfect.
Then, instead of listening to music, I spend my driving time (anywhere from an accumulated 30-90 minutes a day) listening to books. There's nothing better than being behind the wheel, turning up the volume up on an audiobook, closing your eyes... and... wait, okay don't close your eyes, but you get it.
Driving is a perfect time to learn. I'm fairly confident it has helped my road rage as well, but not the lead foot unfortunately.
I use Audible for my brain candy. They require a monthly subscription; however, that includes one "free" book, so typically the monthly fee costs less than the actual book, making it a great deal for the reader. They also offer various deals throughout the year.
Another option would be using your local library and checking out audiobooks for free. The only downfall to that is you won't have them forever, of course.
Regardless of how you read or listen, here are a few of my favorite listens from the past year that I recommend!
*I have no stake in the promotion of The Daily, Audible, or any of the following books.
Daring Greatly by Berne Brown
If you haven't heard of her, Berne Brown is a queen. She is a shame and vulnerability researcher, who has spent much of her adult life studying human connection. Her Ted Talk on The Power of Vulnerability has accrued 38 million views since she gave it in 2010.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead is a game changer, and one of the books that I have listened to multiple times. It is no surprise that it became a #1 New York Times Best Seller.
"What we know matters, but who we are matters more. Being, rather than knowing, requires showing up and allowing ourselves to be seen. It requires us to dare greatly, to be vulnerable. The first step of that journey is understanding where we are, what we're up against, and where we need to go."
Relentless by Tim Grover
The full title of this book, Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, is what first drew me in. I thought, with a title like that, there's no way the content in this book won't be relatable to my mission as a coach and trainer, and spontaneously clicked the sample listen. I was immediately hooked.
I recommend this one mostly for athletes, particularly ones who find themselves consumed with the daily grind of getting better.
During my collegiate and professional basketball playing days, I was obsessed with improvement. Oftentimes to the demise of my social life, being the first person to arrive and the last person to leave practice, as well as the only person in the gym at odd hours of the morning or night.
My obsession felt lonely at the time, but there are many athletes and people out there with the relentless pursuit to improve at their passion.
Tim Grover really speaks to this misunderstood obsession of devoting oneself to improvement in the realm of athletics. He specifically talks about basketball, as he has trained greats like Kobe Bryant. Yet, I think if you find yourself so passionately committed to something to the point where people start to think you're weird, this book is for you.
"Excellence isn't only about hitting the gym and working up a sweat, that's the smallest part of what you have to do. Physical ability can only take you so far. The fact is, you can't train your body or excel at anything before you train your mind. You can't commit to excellence before your mind is ready to take you there. Teach the mind, train the body."
The 5 Second Rule By Mel Robbins
If you haven't heard of Mel Robbins, write her name down immediately. She is well known for giving one of the most motivational Ted Talks of all time, How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over.
She knows how to deeply connect with the human spirit, shamelessly sharing her own struggles and experiences and then giving us the science behind what makes us tick.
The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage, will have you making actionable change in your life immediately.
After all, everyone can talk about the things they need to do and why, but doing it is another story, right? Robbins embraces this reality and gives the reader a kick in the butt to take action.
"Doing the work to improve your life is simple, you can do it. And it's work you want to do because it's the most important work there is, it's the work of learning how to love yourself and trust yourself enough to stop waiting and to start leaning into all the magic, opportunity, and joy that your life, work and relationships have to offer."
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The most striking aspect of The Alchemist, to me, is that Paulo Coelho could not sell more than a few copies in the first two years after publication. Now, over 35 million copies of the book has sold.
This allegorical novel follows the journey of a young shepherd boy, Santiago, as he seeks to find out why he keeps experiencing a recurring dream. This would be a fun book to read with a friend or group, as it is full of hidden meaning open to interpretation.
"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it."
Get Smart! by Brian Tracy
When I first read the title of this book, I couldn't help but think it was a little cheesy. Yet, the content inside is anything but. Like Mel Robbins, Tracy implores the reader to move towards what they want.
He talks about things like the momentum principle of success, effective goal setting, developing clarity, building the discipline to concentrate, the 80/20 rule, eliminating negative emotions, and taking control of your life.
During a time in my life where I felt lost and like I had almost no control of anything, Tracy's words helped me get back into a good headspace. Get Smart! How to Think and Act Like the Most Successful and Highest-Paid People in Every Field in a way is a more modern rendition of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, both of which I highly recommend.
"There is a direct relationship between the amount of responsibility that you accept and the amount of control in your life. Because almost all stress and negative emotions come from feeling out of control in some way, as soon as you accept responsibility, you assert control over yourself and everything that happens to you."
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
The flute intro for this audiobook is nearly as epic as the opening metaphor:
"Then something happened inside of him that transformed his life forever. He looked at this hands, he felt his body, and he heard his own voice say 'I am made of light. I am made of stars.' He looked at the stars again, and realized it's not the stars that create light, but rather light that creates the stars. 'Everything is made of light,' he said, 'and the space in between isn't empty.' And he knew that everything that exists, is one living being, and that light is the messenger of life, because it is alive and contains all information."
Navigating life is no easy task. We all experience highs and lows, and the need for answers and help during difficult times. This book is not only a comfort during those times, but a character builder and tool to cultivate self-compassion as well as understanding of others.
There is so much wisdom within the pages, it is simply a must read.
"Humans punish themselves endlessly for not being what they believe they should be. They become very self-abusive and they use other people to abuse themselves as well. But, nobody abuses us more than we abuse ourselves."
This is me by Chrissy Metz
I tell you what, this book got me through a horrendous 16 hour Greyhound bus ride once. Before said bus ride, I have loved Chrissy Metz since her breakout role in This Is Us.
Her biography is real, touching, and all the things you'd expect from a young lady who has wrestled with being overweight her entire life while pursing spotlight roles in Hollywood and in front of the mic (she also has an incredible voice).
If a story like this doesn't make you laugh, shed a tear, and leave you inspired, Lawd help ya.
"When you're confident in your abilities, it lets other people be confident in there's too. And sometimes we have to teach each other. I know I'm still unlearning everything I learned as a kid. When I was down, people told me that is where I would stay. But, when you are so far down, the only way to go is up."
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Between Dale Carnegie's wisdom and the gentle drone of the narrator, Andrew MacMillan, every time I turned this audiobook on I felt like my grandfather was giving me advice on how to be a better person and more successful in life.
Carnegie takes on a beautiful, and what I feel some now would consider, old school approach, to building and maintaining relationships. As the title suggests, he covers ways to make people like you, to win people over to your way of thinking, and to change people without creating resentment.
It is truly a timeless read, and I highly recommend it!
"People would think they committed a crime by letting their families go six days without food. But, they will let them go for 6 days, or 6 weeks, and sometimes 6 years without giving them the hearty appreciation that they crave, almost as much as they crave food."
Legacy by James Kerr
Carnegie's book may have been on winning friends, but it's Legacy: 15 Lessons in Leadership that is about winning in general. Even if you don't like sports, or have an athletics background, this is a great book about how to be successful as individuals and in the work environment.
However, if you are an athlete or apart of a team environment now, this is a must read. Kerr dives into the legendary All Blacks rugby team, who are the winningest sports organization in the last 100 years, and shares over a dozen powerful lessons in leadership that originate from their legacy.
"Collective character is vital to success. Focus on getting the culture right, and the results will follow."
Heavy by Kiese Laymon
This American memoir caught my attention, as it received 2018 Audible Audiobook of the Year and a slew of other notable accolades such as Best Book of 2018 by the New York Times and is an Andrew Carnegie Medal and Kirkus Prize Finalist.
Laymon bravely shares his experiences with abuse, shame, joy, confusion, humiliation, and the physical and mental weight of growing up as a black man in the United States. It is powerful. Honest. And so real it makes your heart ache and question how we can let things get so bad in one of the world's "greatest" countries.
"I heard Grandma-ma. But, I saw and smelt what diabetes left of her right foot. Grandma-ma hadn't felt her foot, controlled her bowls, or really tasted her food in over a decade. This Sunday, like every Sunday before, grandma-ma wanted me to know it could all be so much worse. Like you, Grandma-ma beat the worst of white folk in the mean machinations of men every day she was alive. But ya'll taught me indirectly that unacknowledged scars accumulated in battles won, often hurt more than battles lost."
Reading doesn't always have to take a visual form. We are lucky to live in a day and age now where we can "read" with our ears. Take advantage of technology so you can sneak in some of these must reads throughout your day.