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No matter who they are or what they do, highly successful people read. That’s a trait that has stood the test of time.

I read my first book, Think and Grow Rich, at the age of 26. Reading and studying that book changed my life so dramatically that I’ve read every day since.

But I don’t just read a book; I really study it. It’s not unusual for me to read a paragraph a thousand times. Right now, for instance, I have a book on my desk that is open to a page where I’ve read the same two paragraphs every day for the past 6 to 8 months.

I read this way because I want to really understand the truth of what the author meant, and to do that I have to really think. It’s a habit I picked up from Earl Nightingale, and it has made a huge difference in what I pick up from books.

Hill, Troward, Lincoln, You2, and many more …

People often ask me what my favourite books are. The answer to that question changes over time, depending on what I’m currently studying. While I can’t come up with a definitive list, I can say that I never wander far from books that cover some aspect of personal growth…

Ralph Waldo Emerson, for instance, is one of my favourite authors because he often wrote about achieving goals and desires. You might enjoy a book called Self-Reliance: The Wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson as Inspiration for Daily Living. This book contains many of Emerson’s principal essays, with an introduction by Richard Whelan that clarifies the essence of Emerson’s ideas.

Then there’s Thomas Troward, who is, in my opinion, one of the best writers in the personal development area in the past 500 years. His writing, however, can be pretty deep so I wouldn’t suggest getting his books unless you’re a serious student.

And Robert Collier wrote a phenomenal book called The Secret of the Ages. It covers many of the principles that are in the movie The Secret, and helps you open your mind to achieving wealth, success, health and happiness.

Of course, I also love reading Napoleon Hill. I’ve been studying Think and Grow Rich every day for nearly 55 years! And recently I started re-reading Hill’s fabulous book called The Master Key to Riches. My favourite chapter is on self-discipline, which is one of the greatest traits you can develop if you want to win in life.

You2 by Price Pritchett is another phenomenal book. I fell in love with this book when I first read it, and I’ve been reading it for years. I carry a copy in my case all the time. It’s only 36 pages, but every page takes you to another dimension. This short book will stretch your mind every time you read it.

I also love James Allen’s book, As A Man Thinketh. It’s a tiny book that will stimulate your mind in remarkable ways. I love reading ANYTHING (including biographies) that demonstrates that we can use our mind to be, do or have anything we want.

Reading creates understanding, which leads to success.

You know, I used to blame my circumstances of not making much money on the fact that I didn’t have a formal education or business experience. But once I started reading, I discovered it had nothing to do with either one of those things and everything to do with my self-image.

Don’t let a lack of awareness keep you from excelling in life. Pick one of the books I mentioned in this post or another personal development book that interests you. The important thing is that you gain understanding through education. You can find EVERYTHING you could ever want to know in books.

As you’re reading, keep this in mind …

You already have everything you need to succeed locked up inside you. Reading and studying simply draws out and develops what’s already within. It empowers you to be your best self.

To your success,

Bob Proctor Chairman & Co-Founder Proctor Gallagher Institute