My 4 Best Books of 2014 for Finding Your Edge

by Karl Rohde — Get free updates of new posts here. Photo Credit: Karl Rohde


Its hard to think 2015 is already here. With another year down I thought I would share my 4 most recommended books I devoured in 2014. With the social age bearing down on us and the industrial age slipping away the pressure to transform our way at work is higher than ever. These 4 books dig deep into what I believe is paramount insight into a purposeful approach to our life’s work. With the rapid innovations of the social age and the breaking down of the traditional barriers to create something of meaning we are facing a remarkable time that demands a fresh approach. With this in mind press on and check out these books.

There are 3 themes that cut across these 4 books: YOUR CALLING, OVERCOMING YOURSELF AND FINDING YOUR EDGE.

Please note that while I read these in 2014 they were not all published in 2014. Enjoy.

1. Mastery by Robert Greene

Robert Greene is no ordinary writer. As with his previous writings this book carries his signature style: edgy, avante garde, leftfield, confrontational. Contemplating the enormity of his books I quivver with respect. The amount of research that materialises a book like Mastery is staggering to my comprehension. It's 5 years, many interviews and over a hundred books of reasearch in the making. He takes the chaos of the seemingly unrelated and makes it flow with logic and sensibility. While he is renowned for his other epic book, The 48 Laws of Power (#mustread), for me, Mastery would have to be his jewel in the crown. Being his latest book it it corresponds well to his revelations on mastery that we will ultimately do our best work when we become a master. Greene recounts the examples of many a master from way back in history to the present. Understandably the one master he does not recount is himself. Reading this book I’m certain you’ll agree he is a master writer.

Why it rocks: It’s ridiculously well researched and highly practical. If a blend of historic and modern day real life stories mixed with pychological trists and turns carried intrigue this is jam packed. Its like learning from many masters but with the added impetus that its relatable to your own life and the calling we all have to complete our life’s work.

Why you should read it: If purpose, calling, growth, development are things you relate to this is the proverbial Aladdin's cave. This cuts to the core of what separates us from animals, our humanity, creativity and aspiration for the remarkable. Around the globe, people are facing the same problem - that we are born as individuals but are forced to conform to the rules of society if we want to succeed. To see our uniqueness expressed in our achievements, we must first learn the rules - and then change them completely. This book relays those rules.

2. The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

You may not know this but there is a connection between Ryan Holiday and Robert Greene. Robert was a mentor to Ryan. This book is a remarkable text and has a similar grit and style to that of Robert Greene. In short, its a book on stoicism; a modern remix however. The title was derived from a maxim by the renowned stoic, philosopher emperor of Rome, Marcus Aurelius: The impediment to action advances action. This book is a stark reminder that the things that teach us most are the struggles and hurdles we have to overcome. A life of luxury does little to temper the soul and develop our character. The framing of challenges and obstacles as something to pursue and be grateful for is an empowering reframe of circumstances. To see the hard things in our lives as a blessing is profound for our mental vitality. With this mindset fear is put in its place allowing us to gain strength from each hurdle we overcome.

It’s almost a cliché at this point, but the observation that the way to strengthen an arch is to put weight on it—because it binds the stones together, and only with tension does it hold weight—is a great metaphor. The path of least resistance is a terrible teacher. We can’t afford to shy away from the things that intimidate us. We don’t need to take our weaknesses for granted. --Ryan Holiday

Why it rocks: In effect this is a “how to” manual in dealing with obstacles. It presents a method and a framework for understanding, appreciating and acting upon the challenges life throws at us. Its relevant to all of us and carries a sense of being timeless wisdom to apply.

Why you should read it: Obstacles are everywhere. They are a part of our everyday life. Seeing them as a gift is a crucial life skill when we consider that all great achievements and masters learnt the art of overcoming the odds they faced. Its OK to be discouraged but its not OK to quit. If you want to learn the art of persistence this is it. If getting through the battle to do your best work is important this is oil for your armour

3. Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

Building on his eponymous book, The War of Art (#mustread), Pressfield takes his idea of beating resistance to the next level and he calls this “turning pro”.

“When we're living as amateurs,” Pressfield states, “we're running away from our calling — meaning our work, our destiny, the obligation to become our truest and highest selves.” --Steven Pressfield

This treatise illustrates where most of us are and perhaps where most of us want to go. Yes, what we are all seeking is our own voice, our own truth and our own authenticity, but we’re terrified. He expounds the folly of the amatuer mindset and how we sell out to keep safe, be cool with the tribe and how failure is an addiction. The transition to becoming a pro and living in line with our magnetic North requires grit and a decision to which we must commit to daily. Our dreams are eroded one day at a time. The intention of artists is to get better, to go deeper, to work closer and closer to the bone.

Why it rocks: Its brutal. A cold shower on a winters morning. There is no softener here. This is straight, served cold. This articulates the gap between boring and captivating making it a cinch to know where you sit. If you’ve ever wondered about being more-than this will lay out the price we all must pay. Turning pro is not for everyone but reading this you’ll soon find out if the endeavor is for you.

Why you should read it: If being entrepreneurial in any shape or form is on your map this consolidates the essential mindset that’s required.

The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida

This book cuts to the core of what it means to be a man and to live the masculine experience with deep truth and honest fulfilment. It expounds upon the three foundational elements to manhood: woman, work and sexual desire. This is a monumental work of poetic genius. No, its not just for men. It encapsulates feminine psychology in a way that man and woman alike can gain a deeper understanding of the dynamic that takes romantic relationships to a higher level. Its a pragmatic guide to life that separates the meaningless from the profound and how to break through our bullshit and be better, more attractive people. This is a hardcore dive into the spirit of bravely living with integrity, authenticity and freedom.

Why it rocks: The problems in our lives like a lack of meaning, loneliness, boredom, dealing with the mundane and losing ourselves are addressed with a depth of perception rarely spoken about in our society. It pushes the reader to find their edge. That place where fear rises, denial reduces and growth begins. That place where our gifts start to emerge, where our work becomes purposeful and where our mark is made.

Why you should read it: If you’re looking for your edge, start here. If you need a reminder to crack on and do your best work this will reignite your senses to know where your edge begins and how to play closer to it as a means to living closer to your true self.

Happy reading!

If you decided to read one of these books as you head into 2015, please let me know. Leave a comment in the box below. If you liked this post please share on your social networks, email to a few friends or reply to this to email me. Connect with me on Google+, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn*