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The 31 Best Personal Development Books for 2021

What are the best personal development books that you have read in the past year?  

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2019, 27% of American adults reported that they had not read a book in 12 months. Let’s hope you are not included in the 27%.  

Let’s be brutally honest. If you are not a reader, you are missing out on exciting learning opportunities. As the famous American author, Dr. Seuss, said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” 

 

Well, when you don’t read, the opposite also happens. 

For example, the famous American motivational speaker and author of My Philosophy for Successful Living, Jim Rohn, once said, “The only thing worse than not reading a book in the last ninety days is not reading a book in the last ninety days and thinking that it doesn’t matter.”

Maybe you want to increase your reading to sharpen your skills and broaden your knowledge. Or you could also be looking for ways to establish a consistent reading system. But you wonder, “What should I do?” 

 

Here’s what you can do right away. 

Use a step-by-step checklist to create your personal reading system, and pick a book to start reading this week. “But which book should I start with?” you asked. 

That leads us to the list of the 31 best personal development books that the CBL Team has put together for you

Time to make your choice. Good luck!

7 Books on Management Ideas and Concepts

Personal branding

1- The Practice of Management by Peter F. Drucker. According to the Harvard Business Review, “His writings are landmarks of the managerial profession.” That is to say, this book is one of the best personal development books for serious managers. 

2- Measure What Matters, by venture capitalist John Doerr, is an eye-opener with practical input, case studies, and advice from top-of-the-line CEOs. Simply put, this book discusses the application of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to drive growth and innovation. 

3- The Deming Management Method by Mary Walton, based on the principles of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, focuses on approaches to deal with mistakes and issues.

For instance, Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, said, “W. Edwards Deming is to management what Benjamin Franklin was to the Republican conscience — a guide, a prophet, an instigator. Here in one book is an incisive summary of his wisdom.”

4- The Toyota Way by Jeffrey K. This book discusses Toyota’s business philosophy and shares insights on improving business processes and product quality while cutting costs.

More on Management ideas and Concepts

5- The Truth About Employee Engagement by business expert Patrick Lencioni. Most jobs, no matter how interesting, can sometimes become unbearable. Certainly, this book offers insights into how managers should avoid and deal with this pitfall. 

6- HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Teams: Harvard Business Review has combed through their best business articles and handpicked the top ten for you to read.  

7- Radical Candor by Kim Scott.  As Booklist said, “Her seven-step methodology―listen, clarify, debate, decide, persuade, execute, learn―is the tool by which bosses and employees get work done well. Plus it completely overcomes the paralysis and concerns during appraisal time. An amazing process that should work, when embraced and applied.”  

6 Best Personal Development Books on How to Improve Strategic Thinking Skills

Solving problems at work is a good thing, but it can also get good employees on the naughty list

 1- Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, examines split-second decisions people take based on instincts and biases that have significant consequences. For example, the book defines the difference between poor choices and smart ones and advises how to achieve the latter.

2- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Nobel prize winner and world-famous psychologist Daniel Kahneman. As The Daily Beast put it, “For anyone interested in economics, cognitive science, psychology, and, in short, human behavior, this is the book of the year. Before Malcolm Gladwell and Freakonomics, there was Daniel Kahneman, who invented the field of behavior economics, won a Nobel . . . and now explains how we think and make choices. Here’s an easy choice: read this.”

3- Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows. This is a must-read for those wanting to become better thinkers. For instance, Hunter Lovins, founder and President of Natural Capital Solutions, explainedThinking in Systems is required reading for anyone hoping to run a successful company, community, or country. Learning how to think in systems is now part of change-agent literacy. And this is the best book of its kind.”

But there’s more…

4- HBR Guide to Thinking Strategically by Harvard Business Review. To be specific, this is a practical guide for professionals wanting to learn to focus on big-picture thinking, strategic decision-making, and effective prioritization. 

5- The Art of Strategy by Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J. Nalebuff presents a game-theory view of the world. Specifically, the book shows how having common sense and thinking of counterintuitive measures can help outsmart your competitors.

6- Think and Grow Rich. Napoleon Hill’s timeless classic needs no introduction. Referring to this book, Daymond John, Founder and CEO of FUBU apparel, said, “I read it every two or three years to keep my drive going.”

5 Best Personal Development Books on How to Build Good Habits

habits

1- Atomic Habits by James Clear. According to Medium.com, “Atomic Habits is a great book for anyone who is frustrated with the way they can’t seem to kick that one (or two dozen) bad habit(s) and wants to finally achieve health, fitness, financial freedom, great relationships, and a good life.”

2- The Power of Habit by the Award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg discusses the science behind habit formation. As Financial Times said, Few [books] become essential manuals for business and living. The Power of Habit is an exception. Charles Duhigg not only explains how habits are formed but how to kick bad ones and hang on to the good.”

3- High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard focuses on six exclusive and highly-effective habits that serious professionals like you can’t afford to ignore

Here’s more …

4- The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. This book discusses the positive impacts of silence, reading, scribing, and working out, among other habits. Above all, it highlights daily routines that you might need to alter to build better and more productive habits.

5-The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This New York Times Bestseller by Stephen R. Covey is a classic. As Daniel Pink, the author of Drive and When said, “Every so often a book comes along that not only alters the lives of readers but leaves an imprint on the culture itself. The 7 Habits is one of those books.”

6 Books on How to Increase Focus and Boost Productivity

leadership

1- Master Your Focus by Thibaut Meurisse discusses solutions to the inability to focus on tasks for long. Similarly, it shares helpful concentration exercises and tips. 

2- Deep Work by Professor Cal Newport discusses four rules for developing deep work focus. As Bestselling author Seth Godin said, “Cal Newport is a clear voice in a sea of noise, bringing science and passion in equal measure. We don’t need more clicks, more cats, and more emojis. We need brave work, work that happens when we refuse to avert our eyes.”

3- Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. In this book, Psychologist Daniel Goleman discusses how attention is like a muscle that can be developed to be wielded as a powerhouse if you genuinely wish to.  

4- Manage Your Day-to-Day by 99U Director Jocelyn K. Glei. Specifically, this book features valuable insights from more than 20 successful and creative professionals.  

 There’s more…

5- Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt lists nine ways to succeed at work by developing proper focus skills and prioritizing abilities to work on what matters the most

6- Fast Focus by Bestselling author Damon Zahariades shares valuable advice on how to develop laser-sharp focus. With exclusive tips, exercises, anecdotes, and ideas, the book is a one-stop-shop for many attention-related productivity issues. 

7 Best Personal Development Books on How to Master Your Work

reading

1- Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson. According to Seth Godin, author of Linchpin, “This book is a breakthrough, a lyrical, powerful, science-based narrative that actually shows us how to get better (much better) at the things we care about.”

2- Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell discusses a vital question: “What makes high-achievers different? “

3- Mastery by The bestselling author of The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene. In short, this book discusses the behaviors and habits of well-known masters and champions from a variety of fields. 

4- The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman. For example, this book is like a business GPS. As Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired, said, “No matter what they tell you, an MBA is not essential. If you combine reading this book with actually trying stuff, you’ll be far ahead in the business game.”

More on Mastery 

5- Turning Pro. In this book, Steven Pressfield discusses the sacrifices you have to make to move from a novice to a pro stage.  

6- Managing Oneself by Peter Ferdinand Drucker. This book focuses on why you must identify your strengths and weaknesses and acquire self-knowledge. It also demonstrates only a combination of both will help you achieve excellence. 

7- So Good They Can’t Ignore You. In this book, Cal Newport explains what it means “to be so good” at your craft and how to reach that level.

In conclusion, what book are you going to start reading this week? 

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PS: A few posts that you might have missed:

The coach
Coach Teddy Edouard is a lifelong learner, public speaker, writer, blogger and vlogger. He is the founder of Coaching for Better Learning, where he helps people and institutions build systems that lead to lasting improvement, growth, and success. He also teaches professionals how to protect their careers and use artificial intelligence (AI) as a career improvement ally.

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