Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. – Groucho Marx
Everyone has a list of books that have influenced them. In the past year I have read or listened to somewhere around 50 self improvement books and I have created a list of the top books that I personally have been inspired by. Without further ado, I will go through the list and explain how and why the book has influenced me and provide a link to where you can get the book for yourself and hopefully be inspired as well. All of the links will take you to Amazon where you can purchase the book being referenced.
1. Be Obsessed or Be Average – This book is definitely not for everyone, but if anyone has ever told you that you’re obsessive, impulsive, determined, or pretty much anything that relates to those adjectives, this book is probably for you. I recommend the audio version, as Grant Cardone does a great job narrating the book. What you’ll learn from this book is how to go all in and take a shot at your life goals. The biggest take away that I received from the book is writing my goals every single day. You can read more about this book in my post about goal writing.
2. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future – Ashlee Vance does a great job inspiring the reader with Elon Musk’s determination, brilliance, and idealism. This may have been the best book that I have ever read, but I’m also a relatively huge Elon Musk fan. This is another book that will inspire the reader to dream big, work hard, and never give up as Elon Musk chasing his dream of reaching and colonizing Mars. This is a must read for practically anyone in my opinion.
3. The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg outlines the importance of habit formation in this instant classic. Duhigg calls a three step process to habit formation a “habit loop” which involves a trigger, the activity to form the habit, and a reward for the habit. Because of this book, along with Habit Stacking by SJ Scott, caused me to outline practically every single task of my day in a Word document, which I print out and follow practically everyday.
4. Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki does a great job using story telling to keep your attention throughout this timeless classic. I just wrote a post about humility, and I am embarrassed to admit that the fact that practically everyone for the past 20 years has recommended reading this one actually kept me from reading it. It took for me to see it as a buy-one-get-one on Audible for me to pick it up. I wish I would have picked it up sooner. I can see why everyone recommends it as a classic. Not only are the principles great, but as it walks through a child learning how to truly build wealth, you start to identify with the characters in the book. Great character development that isn’t typically available in books that are also educational. I also agree with the main principle (invest in assets, not liabilities). Its simplicity is likely what makes this book so effective. Buy this book in any and every form available, although I did enjoy listening to it, as it almost seems like you’re hearing a story told by your wise grandpa about when he was a child.
5. Just Listen – I just listened to Just Listen last week (sorry, I had to). Mark Goulston, a prominent psychiatrist, offers advice on how to influence practically anyone, from your boss, your employees, to your children and spouse. Much of this is relatively obvious information, however what I liked about the book is that it walks the reader through different scenarios that the content can be practically applied. I honestly would recommend reading this book once a year to make sure the content stays fresh in your mind.
6. High Performance Habits – Brendan Burchard is a famous life-coach and he does a great job simplifying what his personal experience as well as research has indicated to be the top 6 most important habits. In the Amazon link above quotes part of the book. It states that “to become a high performer, you must seek clarity, generate energy, raise necessity, increase productivity, develop influence, and demonstrate courage”. This book made my top five because I believe the 6 habits that he outlined are critical to high performance in any profession and Brendan has great real world experience to back up the information that he provides in the book.
7. 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself – This is a great practical guide by Steve Chandler. It’s setup so that each page or two is a new tactic to keep motivated so it is a great book to keep on your desk to read 1 technique at a time. I keep it on my desk at work and pick it up and read one of them occasionally when I have an extra moment that I feel that I need a little extra motivation. Steve Chandler seems to effectively combine tidbits from practically every other self-development book into this concise and neat little package. I recommend buying this one on Audible as well as in print so you can keep the book handy when you’ll need it most.
8. Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, both Navy Seals, write about their experience in combat as well as in business to demonstrate characteristics that are critical to leadership. The setup is fairly simple as one of the two walks through a mission they went through as a Seal and then the corresponding business application. If you liked American Sniper or Lone Survivor and you’re interested in self-development as well, you’ll likely love this book. The key takeaway for me was essentially how to not blame others for the situation I’m in and take extreme ownership of my life. It definitely will provide you with an attitude adjustment. Regardless, this is a definite must buy for anyone who is looking for extra motivation. I recommend the audio version since both narrators are the writers and they do a great job helping you relate to the situations they were in.
9. Grit – In this book, Angela Duckworth outlines why intelligence is overrated. Passion and perseverance are said to be twice as important as IQ to producing sustained success. I liked this book because I always have thought that I was gritty, only to find out that, while I am passionate, I am not very gritty after all. I need to work on my long-term focus. This book provides useful tips to develop, not only your own grit, but help others, such as your children, develop grit as well. As a father of two small children and another on the way I definitely appreciate all the help I can get. Pick this book up and give it a read. You may find it convicting like I did.
10. You Are a Badass – Jen Sincero does an awesome job bringing positive energy and great audio on this little motivating book. I was very hesitant to read this one, because it seemed geared towards women more, but I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. I do think female readers would connect slightly better, but I still recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a more lighthearted pick-me-up. One minor negative is that there is some cursing in the book which made it harder for me to listen to in the car if kids were around. Another word of advice, buy the audio version, Jen Sincero narrates it and she does a great job keeping your interest.
11. Deep Work – This book was written by Cal Newport, and it essentially goes against grain of a society that emphasized connectivity. In this book it discusses the importance of deep concentration and how it will set employees apart from everyone else in an increasingly distracted world. Personally, the biggest thing I gained from this book was the knowledge that the first few hours of the day are often the most creative and productive for your mind. I have changed my routine to allow me to take advantage of this creativity before I get hit with the hustle and bustle of the busy workday.
12. What Every BODY is Saying – Written by Joe Navarro, an FBI agent who specialized in interrogations, this book is important because it helps the reader learn body language that can reveal the true emotions of the people you interact with daily. People oftentimes get very good and hiding what they mean verbally, and even facially, but the body often tells the true story and oftentimes is harder to master. After reading this book I was able to predict who was going to deliver bad news in meetings before they even spoke, and pick up on cues that certain individuals were uncomfortable with certain topics came up in meetings. It’s a great read if you really want to know what is going on in someones mind, especially if you sense they aren’t being completely honest with you.
There you have it folks, my list of influential books. I have a few others that I likely will add to the list, but if you read or listen to all these books, I have a hard time believing that it wouldn’t absolutely rearrange your entire way of thinking. I hope you gain as much from these books as I have, and thanks for reading.
P.S. If you’re interested in audiobooks, you can get free audiobooks by using my link below if it’s the first time that you’re signing up. Happy listening friends!