The Twelve Book Rule by Jim Stovall


Here in the 21st century, we don’t get compensated for how hard we work. We get compensated for how much we know. Becoming an expert on even a very small thing is generally better than having some basic knowledge of a lot of things. A brain surgeon may not know how to change his oil, turn on his vacuum, balance his check book, or run a washing machine. The brain surgeon may know very little about virtually everything, but if he or she knows virtually everything about brain surgery, that person will probably have a profitable, satisfying, and fulfilling life. 

It is a fascinating study to contemplate how much you need to know to be considered an expert in a given field. Our brain surgeon went to school, studied, and interned for over a decade.  

Most things in life do not involve this level of concentrated expertise. You may know absolutely nothing about actuarial tables, natural gas reserves, lift coefficients, major league batting averages, or cake recipes. It is fascinating to talk with people who are experts in these areas and many others and ask them how many textbooks or resources they have really mastered in order to be considered an expert.  

Most people would be surprised to know that in many endeavors of life, the right twelve books will put you into an elite category of knowledge. In many fields, you don’t even have to have elite knowledge. You simply need to know a little more than the average person on the street. Be sure if you’re going to study in a certain field to become an expert that you’re studying the right books.  

The right books are defined and determined only by the top experts in a field. In order to find these books, you’ve got to talk to the experts. In order to find the experts, you’ve got to ask other experts. If you inquire of many people, they will lead you to believe they are an expert or a top performer in their field. This may or may not be true; however, if instead you ask someone in a field who they think the top experts are, you will begin to get many of the same names. And lo and behold, you will find a short list of experts. If you call a handful of these people and ask them for a list of books or resources you should read, you will compile an amazing list. If you read one of these books each month for a year, you will quite likely be an expert within most any field you choose. 

As you go through your day today, decide what area you want to master. Read what the experts in that field read, and shortly you will not be talking to the experts, you will be an expert. 

Today’s the day! 


This and other motivational pieces by bestselling author Jim Stovall can be found in Wisdom for Winners Volume Two, an official publication of the Napoleon Hill Foundation.