Self-help and personal development material is one of those things that’s either embraced with open arms, or pushed away like a bad meal. I prefer the former. And I’m guessing that if you’re reading this article right now, you’re (at least) thinking about embracing this list of self-help books below.
So, without further ado, here are 15 of the best self-help books available today. Hopefully they’ll help you make as many positive strides towards your own personal development as they have for me.
Let’s kick this party off with a quick little exercise: imagine for a moment that you’re working on something—a project, perhaps—and this thing you’re working on; it happens to be something you absolutely love doing. It’s also something you’re damn good at, too … How do you feel when you’re doing this type of work? Does it make you feel good? Does it energize you? Do hours seem to fly by like minutes? If yes, then you’re probably in what’s known as a “flow” state. Wondering how you might be able to bring more flow into your life? Pickup this book.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for couple of decades, chances are you’ve heard of ”The 7 Habits” by the late great Stephen Covey — but have you actually read it and put it to use as the self-help book it was meant to be used as? If not, then now’s the time to consider doing that. The power of this book comes from the timeless principles (or habits) it’s based off of. Each of the habits laid out in this book are designed to act as individual prescriptions for effectiveness in every area of life: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
I learned a super crucial self-help lesson from “Willpower”. Here it is: There are basically two qualities that correlate with success: one of them is intelligence and the other is self-control. So far scientists haven’t figured out what to do about intelligence, but they have re-discovered how to improve self-control. That’s what this book is about — improving impulse control — which is probably the most under-estimated aspect of self-help that there is. Get this book. It’ll change the way you live your life.
Think of the ONE thing you ultimately want to do with your life, career, or business over the long-run. Once you’ve got that in your mind, think about how many dominoes you need to line up—and then knock down—in order to achieve it. Simple right? Actually, yeah. It is. But just because it’s simple doesn’t make it easy. That’s why “The ONE Thing” is such a powerful book. According to the authors, the key to success is figuring out your ONE most important goal — in your business, career, health, relationships, and every other area of life that matters to you — and knocking down one domino at a time until you’ve achieved that ONE goal.
Get this: “Pyscho Cybernetics” was written by a plastic surgeon who decided that one day, he wanted to help his patients see their beauty from the inside-out as opposed to the outside-in, which is presumably why most of them walked into his office. This is a surprisingly powerful little self-help book that’s packed with practical advice on improving confidence, overcoming fear, and more.
The interesting thing about habits, is that once we develop them, they go about totally un-noticed in our day-to-day activities. For example: you probably don’t think about how many simultaneous actions go into reversing your car out of the garage and into the street safely and smoothly… you just do it. That’s a habit. But so is smoking. “The Power of Habit” teaches you how to be deliberate about building better habits that serve you both in life and in business.
“Meditations” is filled with Stoic wisdom that’s just as applicable to the world we live in today, as it was when it was when it was first written 1,800 years ago. The remarkable thing about the advice in this book, and the reason it shows up on this list, is because a vast portion of the spiritual principles that were practiced and written down so many centuries ago, have since been confirmed by science to be effective on our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Find out more by picking up a copy of this age-old text to see if you can bring a little old-school Stoic wisdom to the 21st century.
Yah know — you can have some of the greatest, most innovative ideas in the world — and have every single one of them flop due to a lack of ability to EXECUTE. If you lack the willingness + capability to get things done with effectiveness + efficiency, it doesn’t matter how great your ideas are because when it’s all said and done, success depends upon consistent action. Which is exactly why David Allen’s “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” makes for such a crucial read.
Decades before we had the science and research to prove the power of Emotional Intelligence, Dale Carnegie had already written the definitive guide on how to leverage it to our lives and in our businesses. “How To Win Friends and Influence People” is one of those self-help books that seriously needs to be in everyone’s collection. I’ve lost count how many friends I’ve gotten copies of it for.
Still teetering on which box to check under the “Religious Preference” category?—Or whether to check any of the boxes at all? It’s not as big of a deal as it used to be.
In ”Waking Up”, neuroscientist Sam Harris breaks down the science behind how the brain relates to consciousness — and how that relates to spirituality — showing us that you can, indeed be spiritual without religion.
“Leaders Eat Last” is a self-help book disguised as a leadership book. In the book, author Simon Sinek lays out actionable insights about why leaders need to replace the old “carrot & stick” models of management with more sustainable approaches, that are grounded in empathy and designed to boost engagement and a sense of camaraderie that’s missing in the modern workplace… Pick this book up if you plan on — or already are — leading a career or business that’s comprised of teams of people that depend on working together in order to succeed.
Some people say that the only way to get ahead in life is to crush our enemies and claw our way to the top. Followers of this way of thinking believe it doesn’t matter how many fingers you need to step on to get to the top, it just matters that you get to the top. This is non-sense. And in his book, ”Give and Take”, author Adam Grant has the research to prove it. Grant says that the true drivers of success are centered not around taking, but giving.
The reason why “Never Eat Alone” — a book about connecting with people — is on this list because everything in life happens through people. And in this book, author Keith Ferrazzi breaks down the science behind building meaningful relationships. My biggest take-away? Stop trying to “network” with people to get what you want, and start trying to add value instead. Just read the book. It’s a game changer.
This is a book about success… and how there’s a lot more to it than being smart and working hard. Maybe you’ve heard of Gladwell’s famous 10,000 hour rule and how it relates to success – but even then – there’s still so much more to learn about how successful people became so successful in the first place. “Outliers” is a must-read title if you’re looking for some self-help literature that’s focused on the subtleties and nuances that contributed to the success of icons like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
If you’re a skeptic by nature, then this is the book for you. “10% Happier” was written by news anchor, Dan Harris. In the book, he chronicles his run-ins with over-the-top self-help gurus (like the quacks behind The Secret)—and cross-references their claims with science to determine whether they held up or not. Along the way, he uncovers the intersection of where science meets spirituality. Good stuff.
Which book will you read first?
Now that you’ve got this big ole’ list of self-help books — there’s only one question left: Which one do you read first? Should you go out and get all of them immediately? Should you read them all at once? So many options. So little time. Ultimately, it’s totally your decision what you do with this list and how you apply it to your life and career.
But if I may, here’s what I would suggest you consider as you get started:
– Subscribe to a book summary site, like FlashBooks to get the key-takeaways from the books on this list.
– If you’d prefer to read an entire book, I would highly suggest that you read just ONE book at a time. Sometimes, when we see something new and exciting, we have tendency to want to do/learn/read it all at once… and as we all know, this is nearly impossible to do without stressing ourselves out. So, choose a book. And then commit to reading it from start to finish.
– Finally, if you’re in a super rush, checkout some YouTube video book summaries, like this one.
Dean Bokhari is best-selling author and host of Meaningful*FM (MeaningfulHQ.com),one of the web’s most popular personal development podcasts.