Books are transformative. Period. I bet much of the growth you’ve experienced has been a result of the books you've read. I can trace so much of my personal development to 5 specific books.
I’ll never forget when I heard it. A reporter on the radio was sharing a recent study about what separated successful people from non-successful people. It wasn’t their IQ or education or upbringing or anything like that. What set successful people apart from non-successful people (according to this study) was the number of publications and books that they read.
10 years ago, after hearing that study, I made a commitment to become a relentless reader. If reading was the x-factor for success then I was going to prioritize reading everyday. Today after reading 100s of books and as my digital and physical library grows, these 5 books continue to stand out as my personal development catalysts. Perhaps they will serve you just as well.
It was like pulling teeth to crack this book. Reading was not yet a habit in my life so listening to music, playing a game or napping took priority. But one day, while still in college, I found myself at the Denver International Airport with nothing else to do but read. I cracked the book and never looked back. I highlighted every inch of this book. This was the first non-fiction, self-help book that transformed me. The book laid one of the strongest foundations in my life. My love for transformative and personal development books was born that day.
The book is focused on helping the reader learn and understand sound habits of thinking. Some of the fundamentals include…
- How to think and dream creatively.
- Turning your attitudes into allies.
- Cure yourself of the fear of failure.
- How to think like a leader.
I forget how my hands found this book but it single-handedly changed the trajectory of my life. Big claim but very true. Discovering and developing our unique strengths is one of the greatest gifts we can give to the world.
The book offers a program to help readers identify their talents, build them into strengths, and enjoy consistent, near-perfect performance. Readers take an Internet-based StrengthsFinder test that reveals your top 5 dominant strengths. Then the book reveals how those strengths can be translated into personal and career success.
I discovered my 5 strengths almost a decade ago and they continue to drive my daily decisions and direction:
4) WOO (Winning Others Over)
Over 7 years ago while having lunch at a Chipotle in Denver, CO, I first read about the personal productivity guru, David Allen, in a Fast Company article. Reading begets better reads. David's productivity methods continue to equip me slay procrastination.
It’s super crucial these days to effectively and efficiently develop strategies to filter and file all the information and to-dos that fly at us everyday. David stresses that only when are minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential.
The epic elements of this book include...
- Why a second thought about anything is wasted energy.
- Apply the “do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it” rule to get your in-box to empty.
- How to effectively plan projects as well as get them unstuck.
- Feel fine about what you’re not doing.
4) Put Your Dream To The Test: 10 Questions That Will Help You See It And Seize It by John C. Maxwell
Once my thinking had been expanded, my strengths understood, and my productivity soaring, I longed to solidify my dream and true purpose in life. Enter John’s masterful book. I had followed John for years and read almost all 60+ of his books since I was a high-schooler, so once Put Your Dream To The Test was released it seemed like perfect timing in my personal development quest.
John describes a dream: "A dream is an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it. A dream worth pursuing is a picture and blueprint of a person’s purpose and potential. Dreams are valuable commodities that propel us forward, give us energy, and make us enthusiastic."
Leverage this book and the following steps to uproot or further crystalize your dream.
1) Complete the book’s pre-work to rank the 10 dream questions.
2) Read Chapter 1.
3) Take 1 week to process.
4) Complete Chapter 1 in My Dream Map, an interactive companion full of practical applications and writing space for personal discovery.
5) Repeat steps 2-4 until the book is complete.
6) Revisit your My Dream Map responses and identify common themes.
Four years ago I returned to my alma mater, Miami University in Oxford, OH, for alumni weekend. While out at a bar, I bumped into my all-time-favorite professor. I shared with him all the dots I had been connecting after reading the previous 4 books. After articulating my passion and vision (derived from my readings), he recommended the most actionable book I’ve ever read. (Forever indebted to you Scott!) The timing could not have been better.
Crush It shows you step by step how to use the power of the Internet to turn your real interests into real businesses. Gray shares practical lessons on social media, transparency, and multi-faceted approaches to personal branding and business. This read compelled me to jump into the blogging world and share my passion and expertise.
Some of the learning gems include...
- How to beat unemployment and create wealth-building opportunities by building and maintaining a personal brand.
- How you can build an online business around your passion without quitting your day job.
- Why transparency and being true to yourself are now winning marketing formulas.
- Strategies for turning attention into money.
- Why the legacy element of the Internet era is so underrated.
Readers are leaders. Read on my friends.
Question: What books have been your personal development catalysts?