How to Acquire the Knowledge of 20 Personal Development Books in Under 5 Minutes

Have you ever noticed that, no matter how good a course you attend or a book you read is, only one insight tends to stick in your mind? It’s crazy, we might get a handful of great lessons yet only one stays with us.

The good news is, though, this is usually enough. You can do a lot with one piece of actionable wisdom. It can add a new dimension to your work, it can break a habit that could free you from a lifelong addiction and it can help you let go of old patterns of thinking that held you back.

So, in recognition of the way our brains work, I decided to gather 20 of my favorite personal development books and breakdown their most salient points into just one take away message.

It’s a broad range. You’ll find traditional self-help classics such as Think and Grow Rich alongside lifestyle guides like Paul McKenna’s I can Make you Thin. I’ve also thrown in a couple of business related books like Richard Branson’s Business Stripped Bare and saved a surprise for you at the end.

Of course, I’d be countering my own logic if I thought you’d remember all twenty insights. However, I know that within them, they’ll be one that will jump out and have a profoundly positive impact on your life in the coming months.

Think and Grow Rich (Napoleon Hill) – Write down a crystal clear statement regarding the amount of money you desire, what you will do to achieve this sum and how soon you wish to attain it. Feed your mind on it daily either through repetition or frequent viewing.

You’ll see it when you Believe it (Wayne Dyer) – Most people live their lives only believing something about themselves or their abilities after they’ve achieved it. To distinguish yourself from the masses, you must believe in yourself or your idea even when there is no physical proof or reason for you to do so.

The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle) – All suffering originates from not living in the moment. If you can let go of all your regrets from the past, fear about the future and calm your racing thoughts, then a life of peace and happiness will be yours.

The Power of your Subconscious Mind (Joseph Murphy) – You are connected to infinite intelligence through your subconscious mind. Learn to use this power positively by having a simple faith that you live a healthy, happy, exciting and love filled life.

As a Man Thinketh (James Allen) – You don’t get what you want, you get what you are. Your habitual thinking will reveal itself through the events and outcomes of your life so take time to master the realm of thought.

Pyscho-Cybernetics (Maxwell Maltz) – Your subconscious mind works likes a guided missile. Give it clear and frequent instructions about what you want from your life and it will course adjust to bring you to your desired destination.

The Magic of Believing (Claude Bristol) – The magic thread running through all religions, miraculous healings and ancient rituals is the power of belief. To use it successfully, you must have a strong emotional conviction in the outcome you want to occur being realised.

Never too Late to be Great (Tom Butler-Bowdon) – With advances in modern medicine and changes in lifestyle, you have multiple chances to be great at something (or many things) in your lifetime. Take a long term view of your life and you’ll realise your success is virtually guaranteed.

The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield) – You don’t need to steal your energy from other people by being controlling or manipulative in your relationships. Instead, there is an abundance of it in the Universe and you can access it at any time by connecting within.

Excuse me, your Life is Waiting (Lynn Grabhorn) – The energy you live with is the key to being successful and living the life you want. Therefore, on a daily basis you must find ways to feel great and avoid negative states.

Man’s Search for Meaning (Victor Frankl) – As long as you have a purpose for your life, you can endure almost any circumstance. Find this purpose through work you are passionate about, your loved ones or a commitment to bear your suffering with dignity.

The 80/20 Principle (Richard Koch) – Life doesn’t work on a 50/50 basis when it comes to efforts and results (you don’t get out what you put in). Instead, the relationship is skewed and some of your efforts will reap extraordinary results (20{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c} effort for 80{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c} result). Find out where these exceptions lie and focus your time here.

Willpower (Roy Baumeister) – Your willpower can be exhausted and needs to be replenished. Be aware of this and tackle major life challenges like stopping smoking and losing weight one at a time.

I Can Make you Thin (Paul McKenna) – Only eat when you are feeling hungry and stop when you are full. Follow this rule religiously and what you eat won’t be such an issue.

Easy Way to Stop Smoking (Allen Carr) – All the benefits ascribed to smoking are purely psychological. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by stopping and, once this penny drops, becoming a non-smoker will be easy.

The Game (Neil Strauss) – Becoming attractive to the opposite sex is a skill that can be learned. Irrespective of your appearance, wealth or previous success in dating, if you can create a belief that you’re valuable then women will want to be with you.

How to Get Rich (Felix Dennis) – Ownership is the key. Own the entirety of the company you work for (as opposed to being an employee or holding a minority share) and you will command a fortune when all of your hard work pays off.

Business Stripped Bare (Richard Branson) – You don’t have to follow the rules to be successful in business and there are no barriers to entry. All you need is your gut instinct and the wisdom to learn from your experiences.

It’s not how Good you Are, It’s how Good you want to Be (Paul Arden) – You become rich and powerful by wanting to be rich and powerful. In a world where mediocrity is the norm, a simple desire for greatness will set you head and shoulders above the masses.

Escape The System (Joe Barnes) – Free yourself from the negative influence of your societies conditioning and the possibilities for your life are limitless. You feeling like you don’t belong or ‘fit it’ is actually message that you have a unique and important destiny.

* * * * * Special Offer for Pick The Brain Readers * * * * *

If you liked the sound of ‘Escape The System’ (number 20 on the list) then you can pick up the shorter version for FREE by clicking the link below.

Escape The System: 50 Insights to Help you Live an Extraordinary Life

Or if you want to go right ahead and buy the full book then you can find it on Amazon here.

Joe Barnes is an author, speaker and coach. Having grown up a misfit, he now helps people identify, and then have the confidence, to go for what they truly want in life. You can learn more about his work at the Screw The System website.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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