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The Best Self Development, Business and Personal Growth Books of 2018

By | Advice, Entrepreneurship, Writing
Reading Time: 12 minutes

The Best Self Development, Business and Personal Growth Books of 2018

Ahhhhh, the nerd inside me loves nothing more than to shut off the world and go deep into books. If you’ve ever followed my Instagram, you’d know I’m a little obsessive.

Okay, totally obsessive is more like it. Here’s why:

The knowledge, wisdom and reflective aspect of reading has transformed my life — and Barnes and Noble is my version of a delicious slice of heaven.

At the end of every year, I like to reflect and think back to the books I read and how they impacted me. On any given year, I’ll read between 50-100 books —depending on what I’m working on and which season of my life and business I may be in.

In other words, I read quite a lot. By the way, remember the 10 pages a day rule: if you read ten pages every single day, you’ll read around 12-20 books per year.

Start small, and watch what happens.

According to the Washington Post, only 19 percent of adults read for leisure these days. One of the best parts about reading books is what you don’t do when you make the decision to read: less television, social media and distraction.

So, what were my favorite books of 2018? This is a personal list I choose to share with you, and is not based on anything except my level of learning, enjoyment and connection to the material. This is not a list about literary genius, and all of these works are non-fiction.

These are in no particular order, and few of these authors have been on the Academy podcast which I’ll link to under each section.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

21 Lessons For The 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

best books 2018What is happening in the world today?
Who can we trust for objective information?
Are things as bad as people say they are?

These are all questions I’ve asked, and been frustrated in trying to answer. Part of me wants to ignore it altogether, and the other part wants to dive deep and see how I can contribute to a solution. But awareness is always the first step.

Enter Professor Yuval Noah Harari —author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, two bestselling and thrilling books examining where we came from and where we’re going.

In 21 Lessons For The 21st Century, he deep dives into where we are today to paint a clear picture and how today’s choices will shift us going forward. I love this work, because it makes me think. It challenges me. Nothing is off the table here, including the dominance of Big Data, AI, Religion and the future of life and work.

If you’re someone who feels lost in finding objective sources of information and want at least some clarity about where we are (and how that may impact you) —don’t miss out on this one.

In a world divulged by irrelevant information, clarity is power – Yuval Noah Harari

READ THIS IF:

You want an objective view of what’s happening in today’s world and want to spend time thinking about the world’s greatest problems and opportunities.

The Courage To Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi

best books 2018I heard Tucker Max speak glowingly of The Courage To Be Disliked on the James Altucher podcast, and I had to get it. The title alone grabbed me, and I realized this book had already been a sensation in Japan.

Told through a conversation between a young Man and a aged philosopher, it’s a refreshing format on the topics of change, transformation, courage, relationships and finding joy in life. It speaks about what gets in the way of our growth and how to navigate our lives.

The backbone of the book’s philosophy comes from Adlerian philosophy, which was something I’d never heard of. A colleague of Freud, Alfred Adler believed in developing oneself individually while balancing the holistic nature of a connected community.

Looking back, I’m realizing I need to read this again: it’s a deep read, but the way it’s told allows it to be a fast one. There’s a lot of wisdom within each sentence. It’s a philosophy mets self development type of book, and absolutely worth reading.

The courage to be happy also includes the courage to be disliked. When you have gained that courage, your interpersonal relationships will all at once change into things of lightness. – Ichiro Kishimi

READ THIS IF:

You’re looking for a refreshing take on change, courage and navigating the complexities of life.

12 Rules For Life by Jordan Peterson

best books 2018

Jordan Peterson has become an online sensation —and for many, can be quite polarizing. While I’m not here to discuss the politics around him, there is no doubt he is smart, studied and produces great work that makes you think.

12 rules For Life is a blend of philosophy, history and advice strikes a chord for its simplicity and great examples to drive the point home. Chapter titles include “Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping” and “Set Your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize the World”.

What I love about his work is how simple it truly is. However, as humans…we tend to complicate everything. Peterson’s advice that changing the world starts with cleaning our room may seem obvious, but is it really? I don’t think so: self-reliance is always the first step in authentic leadership. So many people want to change the world, but what about starting with the person in the mirror?

Strengthen the individual. Start with yourself. Take care with yourself. Define who you are. Refine your personality. Choose your destination and articulate your being. – Jordan Peterson

READ THIS IF:

You want a blend of life advice with philosophy, history and all types of examples told in a meaningful way.

The Third Door by Alex Banayan

best books 2018I was standing there in Barnes and Noble (which is kind of my second home to be honest) when I saw the Third Door. And then I couldn’t put it down. Alex Banayan, who’s been on the show —has an incredible story of taking chances and putting himself on the line.

This allowed him to meet Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Steve Wozniak and countless others to distill the best advice on getting started with a career and a dream.

What caught me with this book was the powerful storytelling —combined with the raw enthusiasm jumping off the page. The premise is simple: in life, there are a few ways to operate:

One, we can do what everyone else does: waiting in line.
Two, we can be high rollers and VIP’s: we pay to skip the line.

But there’s also a third way: we can ditch the line altogether, reinvent the rules and play our own game to get what we want. This is the mindset of rebels, trailblazers and industry titans who chose to carve their own path, and The Third Door will inspire you to do the same.

If you actually want to make a difference in the world, if you want to live a life of inspiration, adventure, and wild success—you need to grab on to that exponential life—and hold on to it with all you’ve got. – Alex Banayan

READ THIS IF:

You’re wanting a page-turning adventure full of advice from some of the world’s best minds.

The Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden

best books 2018If we want to launch a business, we need more motivation — right?
If we want to make more money, we need more motivation — right?
If we want to thrive in relationships, we need more motivation — right?

Wrong. This myth holds so many people back as they “wait” to feel like doing something, and if they’re not motivated…

They quit. This is why I loved The Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden: we need more people who are dishing out the real advice around what it takes to succeed. Way too common is those who are relying on extrinsic motivation instead of choosing to create it every single day. Motivational videos are a dime a dozen, but can you execute on the days you want to stay in bed?

This core message is deeply in line with my work, and how I help people achieve results long term. Because if you think you always need motivation, you’ll miss out on the power of growing when you don’t feel like it.

The problem with waiting for motivation to strike is that it almost never comes with enough voltage to get you started. – Jeff Haden

READ THIS IF:

You’ve felt stuck relying on motivation to achieve your goals and dreams and need to get your power back.

Audience Of One by Srivinas Rao

best books 2018When we’re creating something —a message, our platform or any type of endeavor, we can get caught up in doing it for the wrong reasons. We can think we’re being selfless when we’re creating for others —but in Audience Of One, Srinivas Rao takes a different approach.

Using great stories of artists such as David Bowie, the book creates a compelling argument around creating for one person: ourselves. In other words, true creativity is found when we’re able to detach from others expectations and pour our heart and souls into the work.

One of the reasons I loved this book (along with his first one, How To Be Unmistakable) —the way the book is packaged and presented makes it an easy read.

The second half of the book acts like a “how to” on getting our creative work done in an ever distracted world. I was writing my next book when I read this and it helped me focus and re-center on what matters —and will do the same for you.

This includes great tips for focused work, using our environment and habits to shape our creativity and releasing the noise and pressure we so often put on ourselves.

We must learn to let go of our attachments and expectations if we’re going to derive satisfaction from our work and create art that we’re proud to put our signature on. – Srivinas Rao

READ THIS IF:

You’re feeling stuck creatively and spinning your wheels and/or can’t find the time to do the work you care about.

WILD Habits by Tara Mackey

best books 2018

Tara Mackey’s story is incredible: one of resilience, and overcoming adversity against all odds—including being put on 14 prescription drugs and choosing one day to quit.

Cold turkey.

Her podcast episode blew me away because of how she overcame a deeply troubling childhood to now inspire and empower women all over the world as a successful entrepreneur, author and CEO.

I’m always amazed at what people can create coming form having their back up against the wall. This is why I love bringing people on the Academy to dig into their stories, and show you it’s possible no matter what has happened.

Her second book, WILD Habits —is all about how to build this foundation for ourselves and step into who we really are. WILD stands for: willingness, intuition, love, and discipline.

In my coaching, I’ve found this acronym to be essential for not only achievement —but feeling inner freedom, peace and clarity. I especially love the inclusion of discipline which many people get wrong, to me it’s always been about not breaking promises to ourselves (and others.)

In short, your habits will determine the quality of your life, and if you and I can stack more powerful habits into our lives —the more likely we are to love our lives.

My habits used to get me in trouble, now my habits are building blocks that have shaped my life and helped me grow —responsible for every business achievement and my personal health and mental well being. – Tara Mackey

READ THIS IF:

You’re ready to get back to a place of deep alignment…and stop feeling stuck and like nothing is ever working.

The 1% Rule by Tommy Baker

best books 2018 tommy bakerWait, you’re going to promote your own book on this post!? Of course, because I believe in it. The 1% Rule was written for those who were tired of setting life-changing goals only to wake up a few weeks later with nothing to show for it but wasted enthusiasm.

Furthermore, I wanted to give people their power back. At the end of the day, the process is what makes you who you are, not the outcome. Any big outcome in life is momentary (and surprisingly anti-climatic.)

When you put something out into the world, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s been incredible to watch The 1% Rule impact so many people around the world and give them a blueprint to reverse engineer their success and believe in themselves and their dreams again.

When the what and the why are vivid, the how starts to reveal itself. – The 1% Rule

READ THIS IF:

You’re able to create a bold vision or goal(s) for your life —but lose all hope when you think of “HOW” to make those happen.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

When looking to change our behavior, we should stack a bunch of success habits on top of one another —right? Kind of. The problem with this approach is habit change takes time, and since our brains are wired for extreme efficiency —it becomes easy to revert back to normal.

best books 2018I consider Atomic Habits to be a more academic version of The 1% Rule, as we cover very similar topics. James Clear is a great writer and researcher who simplifies the complexities of behavioral change with topics such as making habits ridiculously easy, shifting your environment for success, and much more.

I loved the audio version of the book and finished it in a day. The book became a quick New York Times Bestseller, so that should tell you something.

What I love about it is the simplicity of say, tiny habits —why aiming to do 10 push-ups a day is better to create a fitness routine than starting CrossFit and doing 5 workouts a week.

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. – James Clear

READ THIS IF:

You want to put most of your successful decisions on auto-pilot and finally stick to behaviors long term.

A Tribe Called Bliss by Lori Harder

best books 2018One of the things I love doing is reading books intended for different target audiences. Why? Because I get to connect with other people who I seemingly have little in common with, and yet realize that’s not true at all.

This year, I’ve read more books intended for women than any other year: because I want to deepen my understanding of the unique challenges they go through, so I can do better too.

This includes how competitive women can be with one another, and feel isolated in their pursuits. Lori Harder flipped the script and in A Tribe Called Bliss, talks about why the old model isn’t working. It leaves women alone, frustrated and always in scarcity mode.

Recent research has shown the key to a successful marriage or partnership is each person has significant same-sex relationships they can lean on to share a safe space of trust and support. I’ve found this in my own life by surrounding myself with Men on similar paths.

No matter how much hope and validation you put on someone’s approval or a destination —those are not bliss. If bliss means getting things, permission, validation or reaching a destination, you’ll miss a lifetime full of it. – Lori Harder

READ THIS IF:

You’re feeling disconnected from having a support system or tribe and want to feel the power that comes from having a community of people who have your back.

This Is Marketing by Seth Godin

best books 2018Marketing. This vast world can be overwhelming, confusing and downright frightening —I know from experience of working with the biggest brands during my copywriting career. And if I’m being honest with you: I’m still trying to figure it all out.

Here’s the deal, though: marketing is the lifeblood of any business. You can be the best in the world —but if people don’t know about you, it’s going to be a matter of time until you’re forced to close up shop.

Enter Seth Godin, someone who has transformed my business life and view of marketing. His ideas, his thoughtful words and the way he challenges me to think deeper —are a complete gift. Classic books such as Tribes, Purple Cow and Linchpin are constantly on my must read lists.

This Is Marketing is another brilliant read, designed to empower you (instead of confuse you) to think bigger about your brand, product or service.

Marketers make change. We change people from one emotional state to another. We take people on a journey; we help them become the person they’ve dreamed of becoming, a little bit at a time. – Seth Godin

READ THIS IF:

You want to be empowered to understand marketing, influence and sharing your gifts with the world in an unconventional manner.

Living With The Monks by Jesse Itzler

best books 2018In a non-stop, microwavable, breaking news world —when do we ever stop? Everyone’s busy, you’ll rarely ask someone how they’re doing without them telling you about it. And yet, our personal satisfaction and connection seems to be at an all time low. Our obsession with smartphones means we’re connected externally, yet lacking something much deeper.

Enter Jesse Itzler, trailblazer, entrepreneur and full immersion author who felt burned out and chose to do something about it. But instead of taking a one day digital detox, he went to live with monks in upstate New York for two weeks. His writing is entertaining, fun and informative: it invites questions about our current routines and 24/7 connected culture.

I don’t know about you, but there are days I want to unplug. Living With The Monks becomes a trusted guide and reminder of what really matters —and how the world won’t end if you and I don’t check Instagram 47 times a day.

The power and temptations of the outside world are great. Train yourself from the distractions. They are the enemies of your goals. Learn to move past the distractions, and you will succeed. – Jesse Itzler

READ THIS IF:

You need a funny, riveting reminder of the power of unplugging —and know you need to create some space for yourself.

When by Daniel Pink

best books 2018Daniel Pink is one of my favorite authors on the topic of motivation and why we do what we do —and this is where When: The Scientific Secrets Of Perfect Timing comes in, his latest book.

Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down: it breaks down why timing matters more than we think, and how to use this as leverage for our behavior.

For example, the book breaks down daily timing —when you and I should be doing our most important tasks. Pink’s example of your chances of parole being much, much higher in the morning, than say —before lunch is fascinating. For me personally, it was a reminder to not be so hard on myself and maximize my focused time (with ruthless boundaries.)

I have incredible energy to start my day and choose to use it wisely on things like focused work, writing and what I call big rocks in business. But around 2PM, I start to feel an intense dip —this book reminded me this is normal, and what to do during this time.

It also reminded me of the power of taking intentional breaks to re-charge, as opposed to say, checking email and Instagram, why naps are amazing for us and why niners (29, 39, 49) are more likely to make life changing decisions before a new decade.

Afternoons are the Bermuda Triangles of our days. Across many domains, the trough represents a danger zone for productivity, ethics, and health. – Daniel Pink

READ THIS IF:

You’re having trouble getting your most important work done and want to learn how to leverage timing for big results in life and business.

The Best Self Development, Business and Personal Growth Books of 2018

There’s something for everyone in here, and that’s the point: sometimes, we need a book to spark a creative insight —and sometimes we simply need to be woken up.

If you weren’t able to read a ton this year, don’t fret. Start in 2019 with 10 pages a day, and use Audible and audiobooks to help you learn while on the road.

I’d love to hear from you: which books impacted you the most in 2018?

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Written by Tommy Baker.
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