Polymathy is all about garnering the tools, skills, and passion you already innately have and applying them to your life in an efficient manner. With that being said, there is something SO powerful about understanding why we do what we do.
Where does our curiosity come from? What truly makes us motivated? What are the reasons behind our wants? On a HUMAN level, what is fulfillment?
In this blog, we’ll outline a few of our founder’s favorite books on human behavior. In order to find success, you must first learn about and understand yourself and others.
1️⃣ Freedom from the Known by Jiddu Krishnamurti
This book is interesting due to its author alone. J. Krishnamurti was (and still is) renowned as a spiritual leader, and was even groomed to become a new World Teacher as a teenager. In his thirties, he chose to step away from this Theologically-based path by stating:
“I maintain that truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path.”
Freedom from the Known was published in J.K.’s later life, after years of spreading “the teachings” through speaking tours, group discussions, and issuing publications. He was careful to not call his word “my teachings.” as a way to progress past terminology that could be associated with ego and boundaries.
This book is the culmination of Krishnamurti’s gathered beliefs, and essentially encourages the reader to see past expectations. He argues that, in order to be truly free as individuals, we must be as individuals, living in our own truths, without blindly accepting what our society or peers have planned for us.
Shop Freedom from the Known on Amazon.
2️⃣ The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
As you can tell by the title, Robert Greene gets straight to the point in his book about human behavior. Read The Laws of Human Nature, and you’ll understand why we are the way we are and what we can do about it.
This book isn’t rigidly educational either; it’s made entertaining through a web of carefully gathered and entertaining research. Through the use of ancient teachings, easy-to-follow formatting, and anecdotal examples of historical figures, this book proves the point that we are all connected through a plethora of commonly experienced themes.
In fact, connection is a great word to sum up the teachings of this pick. Greene stresses that, at our core, we feed off our relationships with other people. We need other people to survive, both as a human race and as individuals walking through life. This pull towards connection is who we are; it’s in our nature. By understanding this, we can move on to accepting and benefiting from this basic human need.
Shop The Laws of Human Nature on Amazon.
3️⃣ The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
You may be wondering how stocks relate to human behavior. 🤔
Think of it this way — the human approach to money is a purely psychological thing. In modern society, money is our most valuable tangible resource. The way we hold onto it, respond to it, want it, and try to get it often comes from a place of animalistic desperation. In The Intelligent Investor, the author encourages us to check our drive and instincts towards money, and instead make more methodical choices.
This read is widely renowned, and for good reason. Benjamin Graham, known as the most influential investment advisor of the 20th century, coined and preached the concept of “value investing.” Through this concept, he was able to coach his clients to develop successful careers as long-term investors without much error.
Although Benjamin Graham is no longer with us, you can still gain his guidance through a copy of this book. It was first published in 1949; however, its teachings still hold up today. In fact, Graham’s innovative methods have been proven over time, making this book a more credible source than it was when it was first published. Pretty impressive, huh?
Shop The Intelligent Investor on Amazon.
4️⃣ Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Living and working in the earlier part of the 20th century, Napoleon Hill was a self-help writer WAY before self-help was cool. His life’s work is also a good example of why “try, try again” are good words to live by. After several failed business ventures, foreclosure, divorce, the publication of a critically denounced book — OH,and the Great Depression — Hill finally struck gold with his book Think and Grow Rich in 1937. This gem is now widely considered one of the greatest self-help books of all time.
So, what wisdom lies in Think and Grow Rich, and why should we listen to an author who clearly didn’t glide through life flawlessly?
In this book, Hill ultimately stresses that it’s not WHAT you do, but WHO you are. Success doesn’t always present itself to us in the way we fantasize about or idealize, but it will show up if we can become aligned with it.
This book is big on the concepts of living in harmony and seeking to understand others. According to N.H., connection to others is an asset. When we start to approach relationships differently, more opportunities present themselves. In addition, in order to gain monetary or “physical” success in a lasting way, all parts of your life have to be in harmony.
Long story short — Napoleon Hill put the Law of Attraction on the map.
Shop Think and Grow Rich on Amazon.
5️⃣ The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
It’s the little things. In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell explains why we’ve got the wrong idea about what it takes to make an impact. Gladwell encourages the reader to examine how all massive successes begin. Whether it be a fashion trend, a wildly successful company, a political movement, or even a virus, these figurative “fires” all start with a single spark.
This concept isn’t the beginning and end of the book either — as a matter of fact, it’s far from it. Gladwell drives home his point of quality versus quantity by acknowledging how some ideas stick better than others. Whether it be branding, personality type, or the approach behind our ideas, they must be able to build interest. Queue the connection to human behavior; you must first understand what’s appealing to your audience, or humankind in general. Learn what makes people tick, and the world becomes your oyster.
Beyond these few aforementioned takeaways, this book is chocked full of real-life examples and well-articulated theories. It dances between scientific, psychological, sociological, and marketing perspectives, making this an entertainingand comprehensive read.
Shop The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference on Amazon.
There you have it! As you begin your quest to understand human behavior, any of these five books are a great place to start.
For the record, no matter what you get out of these rich reads, just the practice of reading alone is a step in the right direction. Self-education is one of the cornerstones of becoming a polymath, and is meant to be enjoyed! In our opinion, this activity is one of the fastest ways to expand personal growth. How’s that for an incentive?
Find out how much insight can be gained through reading, and soon you’ll be looking for more recommendations. 👍💯