5 self help books that changed my life and help me every day

I used to love reading books. I remember constantly reading, staying up way past bedtime to read all sorts of books. Goosebumps, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, there are just so many books I remember thoroughly enjoying. 

… then came tv, sports, the internet and girls…

I probably went 10-15 years without reading a full book!  This includes my undergraduate and Master studies, thank you internet for all of your book summaries. For liability purposes, please support authors, buy books and don’t read summaries like I did. 

Fast forward to adulthood, and then parenthood – there isn’t even time to sleep, let alone read. And if there is time to read, I fell into the question of what do I read??!! That’s why I took the time to make a list of my favorite non-fiction books that help me every day in my daily life, whether it be at work, with family, or with friends. This way, you don’t have to spend your time thinking of what book to read, if you even get to that step. 

You might be wondering, why is this important for investing though?? 

These books will help you learn about yourself, learn about how to deal with and influence other people and most importantly how to efficiently deal with life and all the curveballs it throws at you. Without further adieu, here’s the list:

Book #1 – The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
Key skill: Knowing yourself/becoming self-aware
When is this important: All day, everyday

What is the enneagram?? It’s all about us. I used to think I’m unique and that we are ALL unique snowflakes. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we are not all as unique as we think. In fact, all ~7 billion of us fall into 9 personality types. It seems too crazy to believe, but I read the book and sure enough I perfectly fell into one of the categories. The book deep dives into each of the personality types and then talks about how to change your personality, if that’s what you want to do. In my own words, my key takeaway is that “you are who you are right now”. So if you want to be more assertive, be more assertive. If you want to be more laid back, be more laid back. Your personality may have characterized how you operated in the past, but only your actions today define who you are today. A pretty powerful message. 

Book #2 – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey
Key Skill: How to be more effective
When is is important: All day, everyday

I seriously have 7 of the 7 habits in my mind every day and I know it really helps me hang with my brilliant colleagues (who I hope are reading this and supporting my blog). As an example, one of the habits listed in the book is “start with the end in mind”. If you know where you are going, you can efficiently plan to get there. I can’t tell you how many useless meetings I have sat in over my career where people do not have an end objective. I am often able to make seemingly useless meetings valuable by simply asking the question “what are we trying to get out of this meeting”. This really is an awesome book that is well worth the read and re-read now and again.

Book #3 – Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip and Dan Heath
Key skill: Making decisions effectively
When is this important: For anytime you need to make an important decision or any decision really

Be honest, have you ever felt you were overthinking decisions or flip-flopping between decisions? If you have, how have your decisions turned out? Should you have thought through your decisions more objectively? Maybe. This book gives simple yet meaningful strategies to help make better decisions. Some concepts that I use everyday: 

1) Multi-tracking: Do I need to decide between two options right now? Can I proceed with both options and decide later?

2) Book-ending: Evaluating the practical extremes of an option. Asking the questions, what’s the worst outcome that’s reasonably possible? What’s likely the best outcome? What do I actually think is possible?

Book #4 – How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Key skill: How to connect with other people
When is this important: Every single time you interact with anyone

This book is a classic. Originally published in 1936, this book is still very applicable today and will never become outdated. While I do remember reading this book and thinking, wow a lot of this book is common sense, it’s amazing to see how many people get the little things wrong when it comes to dealing with other people. Some examples of what I call the easy things that people get wrong: not greeting other people with a smile, not addressing the other person by their name and simply not showing a general interest in the other person. 

Book #5 – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
Key skill: Influencing people
When is this important: When you are trying to convince someone to align with you. I am basically living this book all day, every day.

The title of this book really speaks for itself, though I will say it goes into more tactics than How to Win Friends and Influence People.  I tend to focus on the likability principle, mainly because I like being liked. Who doesn’t, right?!?

BONUS – I know I said 5 books, but I think some people may really appreciate this book.

Book #6 – Feeling Good by David Burns
This book is for anyone who has ever felt a bit anxious or depressed or has experienced some self doubt. We all face these things at some point or another in life. My key takeaway from this book is that our thoughts influence our mood AND we have control over our thoughts. It’s a simple message but it has had a profound and lasting impact on me. I highly recommend reading it if any of these few sentences resonated with you. David Burns also has other books, a blog and a podcast. Check it out! 

KEY TAKEAWAY:  Believe it or not, there is one theme that tie all of these books together. You have the power to control more in your life than you think. You can control your actions, attitude, decisions and there are real, sure fire ways better befriend and persuade other people in your life. Most importantly, the research has already been done for us and all of these skills can be learned through reading or listening to these books. Can you find time for it?

Thanks for reading! 

I hope you found this list helpful and consider reading/listening to some or all of these books. Do you have any good books that I missed? Let me know in the comments! Also, if you want to buy any of these books, check out my THINGS I LIKE webpage, they are all under $15.

Best, 
Steve


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