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Heavy Hitting Ideas From Heavy Hitting Books

This is a guest post from Avil Beckford from The Invisible Mentor. Avil is very smart, very classy, very smart, and a very good friend of World’s Strongest Librarian. She also loves to read and that’s really all that matters. Enjoy!

What makes a book timeless? Makes it resonate with us decades after the author’s death? I think it is chock-full-of heavy hitting ideas that make us think, and are fundamental to the way we view the world and our place in it. There are many big thinking ideas awaiting rediscovery.

Harriet Rubin, in her New York Times article, “C.E.O. Libraries Reveal Keys to Success” says that “Serious leaders who are serious readers build personal libraries dedicated to how to think, not how to compete.” What’s in your personal library? How many of those books have stood the test of time?

Book of Five Rings (Miyamoto Musashi), Wake Up And Live! (Dorothea Brande), Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Richard Bach), Analects of Confucius, and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Benjamin Franklin) are five books that are packed with big thinking ideas. Which of the following ideas resonate with you? I have pulled great ideas from each of the five books for you to think about, and determine their application in today’s world.

Book of Five Ring–Great Ideas

  1. Develop your plans with true measure and then perform the work according to plan, thus you pass through life
  2. If your strategy doesn’t work change it. When you’re in a deadlock change your technique. Abandon efforts that do not work, think of your situation in a fresh spirit
  3. Train day and night to make quick decisions. In strategy, treat training as a part of normal life with your spirit unchanging
  4. Do what you have to do, even if it means doing it alone
  5. Everything is difficult at first

Wake Up And Live–Great Ideas

  1. Know thyself!
  2. When undertaking any endeavor, act as if it were impossible to fail
  3. Constant workers often attain success
  4. The definition of success is personal. Success may or may not include recognition from your peers, and greater financial rewards. Someone who is living responsibly, usefully, effectively, happily, and taking advantage of opportunities and natural gifts is a success
  5. It is the sum of small things successfully done that lifts a life out of bondage to the humdrum

Jonathan Livingston Seagull–Great Ideas

  1. You are perfect and unlimited
  2. Never stop learning and practicing and striving to understand more of the perfect invincible principle of all life
  3. Break the chains of your thought, and you break the chains of your body too
  4. Practice to see the real person, the good in every one, and to help them see it in themselves
  5. Look with understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly

Analects of Confucius–Great Ideas

  1. “Those who are born with knowledge are the highest class of men. Those who learn, and so readily acquire knowledge, are the next. Those who are dull and stupid, and yet compass the learning, are another class next to these. As to those who are dull and stupid and yet do not learn; they are the lowest of the people.”
  2. You lack courage if you see what needs doing and yet do not do it
  3. “Do not be desirous to have things done quickly… Desire to have things done quickly prevents their being done thoroughly.”
  4. A good man does not walk in the footsteps of others, but moreover, he does not enter the chamber of the sage.
  5. If the people in your sphere of influence operate with integrity you can make them your mentor and leader

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin– Five Great Ideas

  1. Develop a Code of Conduct for the way you live and work, so that when situations arise you know how to respond
  2. Provide useful information to your clients
  3. After making the first $1 million, it is easier to make the second
  4. Before entering into partnerships, document clearly defined expectations and exit clauses to protect all involved
  5. History is filled with mistakes, learn from them

Which ideas can you immediately apply to your work and life? I recommend that you read these five books and identify your own great ideas. What are other books that transcend time? Let’s keep the conversation flowing, please comment.

About The Author:

Avil Beckford, Chief Invisible Mentor, writer and researcher with over 15 years of experience, is the published author of Tales of People Who Get It and its companion workbook Journey to Getting It. She blogs at The Invisible Mentor, where you’ll find knowledge and wisdom from a distance. If you like what you see at her blog, please consider subscribing.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Robby G February 25, 2010, 3:07 am

    The Autobio of Benjamin Franklin is fantastic, need to re-read that. Though I consider myself a big reader, I’ll be honest I’ve never heard of the other books. I liked some of the ideas they embrace in your explanations and will take a look.

  • Avil Beckford February 25, 2010, 5:16 am


    We learn from each other, I hadn’t heard about some of these books until others referred to them. Book of Five Rings was written in 1645, and the Analects of Confucius 475 BCE – 221 BCE according to Wikipedia.

    If you enjoyed the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin you may like the Analects of Confucius because it has some laws for living which you could compare to the ones in Autobiography.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Ted @ Cubicle Warrior February 25, 2010, 7:30 am

    Just got my new plane / airport reading list for 2010! Forgot how great 5 Rings was for strategic thought. Good book list!

    • Josh Hanagarne February 25, 2010, 12:51 pm

      Ted, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read 5 Rings. It’s on my list.

  • Avil Beckford February 25, 2010, 10:17 am

    Ted, It’s amazing how some of these books transcend time. What’s on your book list?


  • Josh Hanagarne February 25, 2010, 11:31 am

    For sheer ideas, I would recommend anything by HL Mencken, but particularly a Mencken Chrestomathy. I also love Candide, Gargantua and Pantagruel, Mark Twain’s political and satirical non-fiction if you’re looking for big, brainy authors.

  • Avil Beckford February 25, 2010, 11:58 am


    There is a book, Biomimicry that I have to read. Bimimicry is a new field and the idea is to use nature to inspire problem solving. It’s on my list of to read.


  • William Womack February 25, 2010, 1:27 pm

    awesome pointers. Things we all need to be reminded of, because (sadly) we tend to forget these types of things.

    We let things get us down, we get stuck, and we lose hope.

    Kinda silly, when you think about it, huh?

    Thanks for the uplifting and encouraging post, it put a little more motivational fuel in my tank. 😉

  • Avil Beckford February 25, 2010, 2:58 pm


    It’s so important to feed the mind, and there are so many books out there that were written long ago and just waiting to be rediscovered. I am happy to fill your tank with motivational fuel. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.


  • Hulbert February 25, 2010, 4:14 pm

    Hi Avil, I agree that these books are timeless because they contain thoughts that resonate to the core of the human mind, despite what year it happens to be. Thanks for sharing these brief outlines of the books as they have helped me rediscover some ideas that I have forgotten about life.

  • Avil Beckford February 25, 2010, 6:30 pm


    Goethe said that everything has been thought of before but the trick is to remember them and that is so true. We need constant reminders. I am enjoying the way people are commenting. Avil

  • Carlon February 25, 2010, 11:26 pm

    Great post Avil.

    I studied Chinese philosophy in college and really enjoyed the Analects of Confucius. I particularly liked the idea of 3 people walking (三人行). When three people are walking one can be your teacher and you take form him that which is good and reject that which is bad.

    A timeless idea.

    Is also liked the part where he warns you not to trust someone with a “too-smiley face”.

    Practical and timeless, too.

  • Avil Beckford February 26, 2010, 12:28 pm


    Thanks for sharing! What about Japanese philosophy, do you know anything about it? There is lots we can learn from Eastern Philosophy. The Book of Five Rings deals with Japanese Philosophy. Thank you for taking the time to comment.


    • Carlon February 28, 2010, 8:08 am

      I’ve never read 5 Rings, but I’ll have to check it out. I know a bit about Japanese philosophy as it relates to Zen Buddhism. I’ve read an English translation of Dogen’s Shōbōgenzō. It’s interesting. I studied more Chinese and Indian philosophy personally.

      I studied Eastern and comparative philosophy in college, so I think there is a lot we can learn from Eastern philosophy.

      But I admit a lot of those books are not so accessible and some translations are pretty bad. I can’t tell you how many bad translations of the Tao De Ching are out there.

      I find The Dhammapada – sayings of the Buddha – to be a pretty accessible book.

      In Western philosophy, I totally recommend The Enchiridion (Handbook) by Epictetus. It’s very short and had a great influence on me. One of my projects is to one day put out an annotated version of it. I think the advice is timeless.

  • Avil Beckford February 28, 2010, 8:19 am


    Thanks for the information. I will check out Enchiridion. I tried to read about I-Ching and the book was so incredibly difficult to read that I put it down. I will attempt to read it another time.

    I agree with you and there is a lot that we can learn from eastern philosophy.

    Thank you for all the great information!

    Avil Beckford @avilbeckford

  • Meryl Evans March 1, 2010, 8:21 am

    Great post from Avil. I’ve only read Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Thanks for saving us time by sharing key points from these books.

    • Avil Beckford March 1, 2010, 9:42 am


      Believe it or not one of the goals of my blog is to review books off the beaten path proving that we can use yesterday’s ideas to solve today’s problem.

      I am just getting back to that goal. I have read so many books that are timeless that many may not know about. I am currently reading The Enchiridion by Epitectus that Carlon suggested in the comments for this post. We can learn so much from others.

      A few years ago when I was publishing Ambeck Edge my company’s newsletter, 5 Ideas extracted from the book was my signature . My readers liked it so I am using it on my blog when I review books.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.