Here’s the sitch.
You’ve been thrown back in time. Somewhere where Kings and Kingdoms and Knights are still a thing. Not like today but like the ones in Game of Thrones. The cool ones.
When you arrive, you’re naked. You end up in the middle of a field and you’re a bit sizzled because we haven’t quite worked out the ins and outs of time travel yet.
You walk up to a farmers house.
‘What are you doing here?’
‘I’m from the future.’
‘What’s the future?’
‘Do you have any spare clothes?’
You offer to help on the farm in exchange for clothes. Why? Because you read Influence by Robert Chaldini and know about the law of reciprocity.
The farmer agrees.
You help around the farm for a few weeks. Then decide it’s time to head into town.
The farmer taught you some good things. But it’s time to try something else.
You find a library. It’s bare. And the English in the books is broken but you can still make it out. You help others to read. They appreciate it.
Everyone starts coming to you as a source of knowledge.
‘I can’t seem to get my troops to follow me into battle.’
‘Well, how are you treating them?’
‘I train them hard and often.’
‘Are you doing the training?’
‘Of course not, I’m a leader, not a solider.’
‘Perhaps you should consider leading with actions, rather than words.’
The Commander comes back a few days later.
‘What you said worked,’ he says, ‘where did you learn such things?’
‘In a book called Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink.’
‘Willink? I’ve never heard the name,’ the Commander says, ‘but if you see him, let him know I must know more of his techniques.’
You keep making friends in the town. You know everyone’s name.
Paul the baker.
Mary the shoemaker.
John the blacksmith.
When Samuel needs new shoes you send him to Mary. And when Jacob wants a new piece of armour, you always recommend John.
‘Morning John,’ you say heading through the streets.
You remember how someone’s name is the sweetest thing they can ever hear from How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
An election is coming up. The King is getting old and wants to pass on the crown. He has no sons or relatives.
Your name gets thrown in the hat. You’ve only been in town for a year. But it’s been a good year.
‘We have a new King!’
‘How could this have happened?’ you wonder.
Then you remember back to all the actions you took in the past year. Helping the farmer, sharing your knowledge, making friends and connecting them to each other.
All these things came from books you read.
But you realise it wasn’t only because you read them. It was because you put them into practice.
Someone’s life’s work spread across the pages, absorbed into your head, then spread throughout and look what happened.
Remember how you helped others to read?
The people appreciated it. Why? Because they were learning. They were gaining knowledge.
It’s in our DNA to seek knowledge. It’s why reading self-help books can be addictive.
Each one sheds a little more light on what we could be doing better. But it’s like the coin stuck down the back of your couch, the closer you get, the more it inches away.
And so you keep reading, and reading, and reading. But never quite satisfying your thirst.
Then you realise.
There is no book which is going to help you become yourself. Because the books are simply the tool.
And what good is a tool which doesn’t get used?
But now you know. You know what’s possible when you use the tools available to you.
You can become the King of your own Kingdom.
Get ready. Being a King is hard. There will be times where you don’t know what to do next. That’s when it’s time to reach back into your toolbox.
Don’t have the right tool for the job? No worry. There are plenty more down at the hardware store.