My biggest break in life came when I was 15 years old and someone I looked up to gave me a piece of advice that changed my life. That individual was a civil engineer, the person with the highest level of education I knew at that point.
He saw that I was uncertain when he asked about my goals for the future, and he told me that I could accomplish any level of success I desired in life so long as I sought mentorship from successful men and women in that specific field.
I did not have such successful people in my circle at that time, so he advised me to seek their mentorship through their books. What follows is a list of my top seven books for success (in no specific order).
1. See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar
In See You at the Top, Zig Ziglar helps the readers understand that individuals should not be defined by their failures. He explains that failures are setbacks that can serve as stepping stones on the journey to success and that failures are only failures if you choose to quit or to give up on your dreams.
Such advice has been priceless during my journey from my previous life circumstances in Haiti to a life full of opportunities as a Medical Officer in the biggest Navy on the face of the earth. I can attest that the road to success is full of setbacks but know from experience that if you dare to travel beyond them, boundless success will be yours. Conversely, if you chose to accept them as your limit, then they are no longer setbacks but failures; the only difference is in your attitude and approach. The decision is yours.
2. Mindset by Carol S. Dweck
If you closely examine the life of successful people, you will eventually realize that they don’t become successful simply because they are lucky, are born in a great environment or because they are smarter. Although the above may help, at the core of every successful man or woman is a positive mindset. When it comes to living a more successful life, a mindset of hope, opportunity, gratitude and abundance makes the difference.
3. Your Way to Success by Tom Butler-Bowden
Your Way to Success is an audiobook I have listened to multiple times. It is truly a goldmine, and one in which the author gives an excellent individual synopsis of 150 success, self-help and prosperity classic books. If I were to recommend just one audiobook on the topic of success, Your Way to Success would be it.
4. The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
“Success is not achieved in a vacuum” is a statement every success seeker should be reminded of. No matter what success means to an individual or the level of success one wants to achieve, at some point, one will have to face the truth that success is based on relationships. Understanding The Laws of Human Nature can make or break these relationships. Whether you agree or disagree with Robert Green, the failure or success in understanding people’s personalities or their human nature can lead to great success or avoidable breakdown in relationships or interaction with others.
5. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Throughout our lives, no matter how fleeting it may be, we have all met with despairs and successes. Some of my first memories have been of hunger and impoverishment, but I have also experienced moments of great successes, and one such moment is Aug. 8, 1998, the day I immigrated to the United States of America from Haiti. The meaning I gave to that day was that once the airplane took off, I felt free from all the misery of the first 20 years of my life. Upon landing in Miami, I instinctively knew that my future opportunities were limitless. I am well aware that the idea of leaving one’s motherland to start over in a distant, foreign land could have had a completely opposite meaning for someone else. What is important in this is to search to give meaning to one’s circumstances based on the awareness of the outcome we seek. For example, until I read Man’s Search for Meaning, I could not seem to figure out why some people have to face extreme, unfortunate circumstances in life without the power, the means or the connections to change those circumstances. However, after reading Man’s Search for Meaning, I came to understand the fact that one may need to learn how to change one’s perspective of the circumstances or seek to develop the awareness to search and to create a different, or more empowering, meaning of the circumstances.
Man’s Search for Meaning has also led me to realize the meaning we give to our circumstances may, in fact, be as important a factor as these circumstances may be.
6. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist is a book that never fails to bring a smile to my face just by thinking of the title. This book is a great reminder that each one of us has, in us, the elements needed to transform our current life into the success we seek to achieve. Unfortunately, some of us don’t have the conviction of belief, the know-how or the awareness of where to look for the success we so desperately seek. The worst part of it all is that the success we are searching for is right there within us, the very last place we so often look. Often times, we will seek high and low, far and near but it never occurs to us to have the awareness to look within.
7. 7 Checklist Items for Success by Jean G. Mathurin, M.D.
For fear of being judged as self-servicing, I resisted adding the 7 Checklist Items to this list at first. I finally decided to add it because I have read numerous success books but wanted to put the key elements of success into one, simple-to-read book that, if I were to find during the time of my most ardent pursuit of success, could have led to my current awareness. While I do understand that I likely have my blind spot – or that “I may not know what I don’t know” – what I do know is that my current life is beyond my wildest dream. I am currently living a life far from the reality of where I started as a shy, young immigrant adult who could not even speak the language of his adopted country and am now in a place of advising others. While I remain humbled by all the blessings of my life, I must admit it sometimes feels like I am in a dream. If indeed my current reality were to be a dream, I wouldn’t want to wake up except for fact to wake up others and to bring to their awareness the fact of what is possible through a simple 7 Checklist Items for Success.
As a child growing up in poverty in Haiti, Dr. Jean Gilnord Mathurin knew he had a better life ahead, but naysayers said otherwise. When his second-grade teacher told Dr. Mathurin that he was from a dumb family and would not amount to anything, Dr. Mathurin decided right there that he would become a physician just to prove her wrong. His friends told him it wasn’t possible. Things didn’t change after he migrated to the US, either. While working as a dishwasher at a casino—with limited English and no money—Dr. Mathurin confided his dream to a co-worker, who told him it wasn’t possible under his circumstances. Jesus would come before he would even become a doctor, his friend would tease. That pessimism further invigorated his desire and ten years later, Dr. Mathurin not only achieved his goal, but found himself having the greatest privilege as a medical officer in the United States Navy.
Dr. Mathurin’s self-help book, 7 Checklist Items for Success: A Guide to a Richer and More Successful Life (May 14, 2018), is a must-read for teens and young adults making their way in the world. And it makes a great holiday gift or stocking stuffer! “I was inspired to write the book after I took a trip to Haiti in June 2016,” says Dr. Mathurin. “I wanted to find a way to motivate young adults of lower socioeconomic status, including my 16- year-old nephew, to show them that they too can be successful by applying the advice in this book.”
Dr. Mathurin offers insight from first-hand experiences and weaves in the wisdom of others, including Warren Buffett and late self-help authors Zig Ziglar and Napoleon Hill. Kirkus Reviews hails 7 Checklist Items for Success, “a book of noble, sincere, and expressive advice for living.”
The views presented are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the United States Department of Defense or the United States Navy.