Like most people, I often feel I’m juggling too many things at once, so I’m always seeking ways to work smarter. In the spirit of continuous improvement and growth, this year I’m reading a book a week to help me maximize my efficiency and influence.
Here are 4 books I recently read that I recommend to anyone looking to achieve the next level of professional or personal success:
1. The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It (Kelly McGonigal)
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “tomorrow I will tackle this project” or, “I will visit the gym tomorrow” only to find yourself making the exact same commitment the next day because you haven’t actually followed through yet, this book is for you. It provides just enough science to help you understand why you behave the way you do, balanced with practical techniques for changing your behavior. Whether you’re looking to stop bad habits getting in the way of your success or incorporate new habits into your life so you can achieve your goals more quickly, this book is a must-read.
2. The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism (Olivia Fox Cabane)
This book dispels the perception that charisma is something you’re born with. The author indicates charisma is, in fact, a learnable skill — she breaks it down into three elements (power, warmth, and presence) and provides actionable steps for improving the way people perceive you in these areas.
3. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Robert B. Cialdini)
If you’ve ever agreed to do something and then wondered how on earth the other person got you to say “yes,” you’ll find this book fascinating. It explains six principles of applied psychology used to persuade. You’ll walk away with not only a sense of how to use the techniques, but also the ability to identify when someone is using them on you. The most interesting takeaway for me is how easily we can be manipulated using our desire to appear consistent with our past actions and statements — someone can prime their way to a “yes” on a big request by getting our agreement on a smaller request.
4. How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
This is the classic book for success in business. Though it needs to be read with appreciation for the incredible changes that have occurred in communication since it was originally published, it still provides a framework for forming productive relationships.
I see Carnegie’s methods referenced in many other business and personal development books, yet few convey the basics of creating relationships as effectively as this book. Most of the tips are intuitive, but regardless, the book serves as a great reminder not to overlook the impact of little things, like addressing someone by name and considering someone else’s point of view.