It can be difficult to determine what books you should read to jumpstart your journey of change or transformation. All of the thousands of options available on the market today are enough to make anyone’s head spin.
Your time is your life. We know how valuable getting the right book the first time can be.
The following list contains what we believe to be the five most influential personal development books ever written.
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey
This piece covers the seven fundamental principles that can be applied universally to transform your life. The author of the book is Stephen Covey, a world-renowned author, public speaker, consultant and entrepreneur.
Mr. Covey is simply one of the best; especially when it comes to the wisdom of living a principle based lifestyle.
In addition to radically overhauling your own life, the seven habits will teach you the fundamental steps to positively influencing the lives of all others in and around your circle of influence.
The infamous 7 steps are as follows:
- Be Proactive
- Begin with the End in Mind
- Put First Things First
- Think Win/Win
- Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
- Sharpen the Saw
The wisdom inherent in these 7 habits may not be noticeable immediately. But we can assure you, this is one of the most powerful books on personal change and productivity on the market today – and it was written over two decades ago.
You absolutely owe it to yourself to check out this book if you haven’t already.
In our opinion, of the 7 steps, the most transformational is step number one. Step one really cuts through a lot of the negative programming we might have received as children and teaches us the one thing we could do – even if we chose to do nothing else, that would radically change our lives.
Our least favorite thing about the book is step number two, which has to do with visualization. Of course this could be simply due to lack of talent in that area or other personal reasons.
Overall this is a book we keep pulling out, dusting off, and referring back to throughout the years. It is the one book you could decide to live your life by — if you so chose. For these reasons, we would absolutely recommend reading this book — multiple times in fact.
“What to Say When You Talk to Yourself” by Shad Helmstetter PhD
Everything starts with a thought. Every action, positive and negative is a fruit of a seed that was planted in the mind. This book takes a hard look at our self-talk — that internal dialogue running constantly in our heads — where it came from (programming) and how what we say affects us as human beings.
Personal development author and life coach, Dr. Helmstetter really shines here. Of all of the books he has written this one is undoubtedly his most famous work. It is also our favorite.
Dr. Helmstetter really forces the audience to look inside the mind for the motivation to change and be successful. He breaks down step by step how our lives are created from the thoughts we think about it.
His famous cause-and-effect thought chain that results in our action is as follows:
- Programming creates beliefs
- Beliefs create attitudes
- Attitudes create feelings
- Feelings determine actions
From this place of self-awareness, Dr. Helmstetter gives us the 5 levels we must go through to take control of our lives and harness the power to change.
We just love the Five Levels of Self-Talk. They meet you where you are and provide the vehicle to help you move to a higher level of awareness and action.
There is a little bit of a caveat when it comes to reading this book. It is extremely long for the subject matter provided. It would have been possible for the author to make the same points in half the pages — maybe even less.
Do not let this discourage you from the reading. It is long – but at the end it is worth it. Trust us, you’ll be happy you spent the time. We absolutely recommend checking this book out.
“The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz
Agreements are the beliefs and feelings we have accumulated in the course of our lifetimes. Those beliefs tend to act as catalysts for our reactions to life and its situations.
In “The Four Agreements” Don Miguel Ruiz details 4 new agreements we can make that have the power to transform our relationships, decrease resistance to others’ actions and ideas and improve the overall quality of life.
Ruiz is a Nagual, an ancient Toltec Master, who learned this wisdom via the passing of centuries old tradition from person to person. He is an internationally known best selling author of several highly transformational personal development books.
This book really gets to the heart and soul of interpersonal conflict and what can be done to resolve it. The principles are so simple and easy to understand—but extremely powerful.
The “Four Agreements” according to Ruiz are:
- Be Impeccable With Your Word
- Don’t Take Anything Personally
- Don’t Make Assumptions
- Always Do Your Best
Of the four agreements, one and two are not only our favorites, but they are the most powerful. These two alone (especially number one) are truly enough to change the course of one’s life where relationships and change are concerned.
Being impeccable with your word means wisdom in the use of your speech, whether you’re discussing yourself or others. Ruiz takes a spiritual approach to explain this principle in detail.
As for our least favorite part of this book? Well, we don’t have a least favorite. This little book is a game changer for all the reasons above and some. This is definitely one you don’t want to miss.
“Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill
“You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.” – Napoleon Hill
This book offers a no-nonsense approach to changing your thoughts in order to change the whole of your life’s circumstances (specifically in the area of finances).
Napoleon Hill is a world-famous new thought author. He wrote extensively on the topic of success and is said to be one of the greatest authors in the genre of all time.
“Think and Grow Rich” is based on principles of faith, desire and visualization for material manifestation.
Hill firmly believed that we live in a world of abundance and everyone could have all they desired if they just knew the proper way of going about obtaining it. This book is the instruction manual to teach one just how to go about it.
One of the best things about this book is the ease and simplicity of the read. It was one we felt could easily be read in an afternoon, if one so desired.
Some of the topics in this book do tend to stretch the imagination into the realms of the metaphysical. If this does not scare you away and you are in need of financial assistance, this book might just be what you’ve been looking for.
We would absolutely recommend to the open minded individual with the drive to do the work contained.
“Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson
This is a book about the importance of the rat race. But not the rat race as we are accustomed to hearing it. In Johnson’s rat race, the cheese we chase is symbolic of all of our wishes and desires in life.
This little book shows us how to adapt to a changing environment and work with life on life’s terms in order to obtain and maintain all that we could ever desire or think of.
Spencer Johnson is the New York Times best selling author of approximately 3 dozen books. His insights are crystal clear and the knowledge he imparts in this and other books is extremely rewarding.
“Who Moved my Cheese” takes us through an allegory of life, where four characters live in a maze and must adapt to its changing environment to continue to obtain and maintain their “cheese” or the golden carrot.
This book covers a myriad of deeply important topics in the area of growth and change, including fear, resistance, consequences, when to let go of old beliefs and behavior patterns and so much more.
This book is a quick read—you can finish it in one sitting—and is completely life affirming. We would be remiss if we didn’t recommend you read this book at least once in your lifetime.
So there you have it. The top 5 personal development texts of all time—at least in our opinion. Save a little time and a lot of money by picking up one of these classics. You’ll be happy you did.