By Jatinder Singh, Associate Partner & Mentorship Coach, Lighthouse International
Asking people what their favourite personal development book is can be the equivalent of asking them what's their favourite film - there are different things that we appreciate about each of them, and at the different times in our lives when we encounter them. 🙂 Nevertheless, there are certain books that can resonate deep within us, or they carry a message that is just what we needed to hear at that particular time. Maybe it's because we needed that extra dose of inspiration, or they carry a line or two of wisdom that is vital for us, so as to overcome a challenge that we are encountering.
There are 10 of the most legendary personal development books below, that we've hand-picked from the last decade of working with thousands of career and business professionals.
It would be great to see if you agree with this list - are there any other books you can recommend that are missing from this list? Why would you recommend them? Get voting at the end in our poll...
1. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
"Principles are the territory. Values are maps. When we value correct principles, we have truth -- a knowledge of things as they are.”
Considered by many to be the daddy of personal development books, this book helps people to understand what limits them in achieving their personal effectiveness, and how working with others is so incredibly vital in achieving any goal. It contains the core principles and fundamentals of success that every other personal development book is built upon! It has helped many people to see why trustworthy relationships and a network of good people are the keys to success. After reading it, hopefully you will see why the Ex-President of the United States Bill Clinton values this book so much 🙂
2. The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
This booked really helps people to see the link between personal growth and the drama's that exist in day to day life, through unresolved mental and emotional issues. The author highlights how many of our problems are due to the avoidance of going through the pain of the legitimate growth required to become an adult.
3. Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”
One of the world's most renowned spiritual teachers Eckhart Tolle, helps us to understand why we are not our thoughts, and teaches the reader how to work on living in the present moment. While a challenging book to read at times, and even harder to practice, it has many helped many people to take more control of the distracting thoughts and dramas caused by my mind.
4. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
“The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”
This book was written by one of New York's most famous preachers and one of the strongest proponents of positive thinking. Mr Peale stresses in this book that positive thinking can alleviate self-doubt and improve our well-being. It helped me see that positive thinking was not "airy fairy" but instead based on looking at reality - seeing the positives, rather than concentrating on the negatives.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
This is possibly one of the most humbling books you will read. Written by a concentration camp survivor and psychiatrist, it's an autobiography of how Mr. Frankl used the traumatic events of the camp he lived in - to find meaning in his life. In the process, he was able to help others and help himself. Words cannot really do justice to what this remarkable man endured.
"I've come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy. ”
There is only one Tony Robbins. As one of the most influential personal development authors and coaches in the world, Tony Robbins has inspired millions to realise they are capable of more in their lives - if they are willing to grow and develop. After seeing how passionate Tony Robbins is, I'm confident you will want to have his energy levels!
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
This book is written as a parable about learning to listen to your heart and follow your dreams, regardless of the obstacles that come in the way. This book is a great reminder of just how powerful goals are and to never give up on your dreams.
“When you want to attract something into your life, make sure your actions don’t contradict your desires. Think about what you have asked for, and make sure that your actions are mirroring what you expect to receive and that they’re not contradicting what you‘ve asked for. Act as if you are receiving it. Do exactly what you would do if you were receiving it today, and take actions in your life to reflect that powerful expectation. Make room to receive your desires, and as you do, you are sending out that powerful signal of expectation."
This book is about the "Law of Attraction" and the power of focusing on what we want, not on what we don't want! It helps us to see that there is a science to success which is not a lottery, as many of us I'm sure have thought before!
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve.”
The author was asked to write this book by one of the richest people in the world ever, the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Mr Carnegie himself came from very humble beginnings and wanted Napolean Hill to help others understand the principles of success. One of the key distinctions from this book is that successful people use their creative imagination a lot more effectively than most people.
10. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
"Emotions are what make us human. Make us real. The word 'emotion' stands for energy in motion. Be truthful about your emotions, and use your mind and emotions in your favour, not against yourself.”
While this is more of a personal finance book in nature, the author makes a fantastic point that is highly related to one of the key elements of personal development, namely living with abundance and affluence. How many people say "I can't afford this?" rather than asking proactively "what can I do to afford this?" It's a great read to start thinking more entrepreneurially.
While I have not come close to mastering any of these books, I have tried to continually work on improving myself every day in line with what I have learned from them. The road to self-mastery and constant improvement never ends. Along the way, one of the biggest distinctions I have made is that it is impossible to optimise my life on my own. Virtually every legend has succeeded with the help of other people.
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