Many of these titles challenged my internal status quo, opening my mind to new ideas and opportunities. And together, they gave me a basic framework for living, loving, learning and working successfully.
If you haven’t taken the time to read them, do yourself a favor and do so. It will be time well spent.
- The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck – Pretty much the granddaddy of all self-improvement books, it’s easily one of the best nonfiction works I’ve ever read. By melding love, science, and spirituality into a primer for personal growth, Peck guides the reader through lessons on delaying gratification, accepting responsibility for decisions, dedicating oneself to truth and reality, and creating a balanced lifestyle.
- Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton – The book’s basic point is sound – honesty is the best policy. With a brash, ‘in your face’ writing style, Blanton states that lying is the primary cause of human stress and advocates strict truthfulness as the key to achieving intimacy in relationships and happiness in life.
- The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin – Josh Waitzkin transformed himself from a championship chess master into an elite Tai Chi martial arts practitioner. This book is part autobiography, part chess memoir, and part martial arts philosophy. Essentially, Waitzkin offers his own approach to becoming a student and applying certain disciplines and habits toward learning and eventually mastering any skill.
- The Joy of Simple Living by Jeff Davidson – A great resource for anyone wanting to cut down on the clutter and confusion in their life. Davidson takes a step-by-step, easy to follow approach to simplifying your house, garage, office, car, etc. Not only will you learn to create an orderly home, you’ll gain the knowledge necessary to be a more successful spouse, parent, and worker by learning how to prioritize and simplify.
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini – Arguably the best book on the science of persuasion. Cialdini explains the six psychological principles that drive our powerful impulse to comply to the pressures of others and shows how we can defend ourselves against manipulation (or put these principles to work for our own interests).
- Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Ecker – This book competently discusses the missing link between wanting success and achieving it. If you suspect that your mindset is holding you back from making more money and achieving your goals, you’d be wise to give this title a thorough read.
- Management of the Absurd by Richard Farson – Farson zeros in on the paradoxes of communication, the politics of management, and the dilemmas of change, exploring relationships within organizations and offering a unique perspective on the challenges managers face. I highly recommend this book for anyone in a management or leadership role, including parents and teachers.
- Overachievement by John Eliot – According to Eliot, in order to achieve spectacular success, one must change his or her thoughts about pressure and learn to welcome it, enjoy it, and make it work. Eliot says that goal-setting, relaxation, and visualization, the typical self-help suggestions, just don’t work well for most people. This book provides some great food for thought that attempts to counteract the primary points of other major self-help gurus.
- The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz – This is another classic self-improvement book. Schwartz gives the reader useful, proactive steps for achieving success. He presents a clear-cut program for getting the most out of your job, marriage, family life, and other relationships. In doing so, he proves that you don’t need to be an intellectual or have innate talent to attain great success and satisfaction in life.
- The Irresistible Offer by Mark Joyner – Create an irresistible offer. Present it to people who need it. And sell it almost instantly. A great sales and marketing primer for anyone trying to sell something.
- Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich – This is the book that provoked Adam Shepard to write “Scratch Beginnings.” It’s another first person perspective on poverty in America. In the book, Ehrenreich moves into a trailer and works as a waitress, hotel maid, and Wal-Mart sales clerk. Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and duality. I found it to be an extremely thought-provoking read.
- The Power of Less by Leo Babuta – Babuta’s message is simple: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest. Get on your way to living a simpler life in order to do and achieve the things that are of real value to you and your family. This is my favorite book on the art of simplicity.
- The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell – Gladwell embarks on an intellectual journey to figure out what separates the best, the brightest, and the most successful people from everyone else. He investigates these high achievers by looking closely at their culture, family, generation, and the individual experiences of their upbringing. This book really gets you thinking about success from a totally different perspective.
- Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner – This book just may redefine the way you look at the modern world. Through skillful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and Dubner set out to explore the hidden side of everything from the inner workings of a crack gang to the myths of political campaign finance to the true importance or unimportance of gun control. It’s an eye-opening read.
- Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy – This book is probably exactly what you would expect from a well-written, classic self-improvement book. Tracy’s straightforward advice is accompanied by easy-to-do exercises and enhanced with inspiring stories of successful, highly motivated achievers in many fields.
- The Art of Selling Yourself by Harry Beckwith – Beckwith concentrates on the importance of being a considerate human being as it relates to running a successful business or living a successful life. The title is somewhat deceiving because the book is more about giving than it is about selling… or should I say, it’s about giving as a way to sell yourself. Either way, this book is packed with practical tips and insightful stories.