September is self-improvement month, a time to focus on improving yourself to achieve desired goals.
With the help of SUCCESS magazine, we have compiled a list of 25 books—from timeless classics such as James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh to recent bestsellers like Nike swoosh creator Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog—that provide insights on maximizing potential, overcoming fears and recognizing the pivotal moments that can have the greatest impact on your life.
Opportunities for success, wealth and happiness often lie under foot and yet go unnoticed. This little book, originally a speech by Russell Conwell, serves as a reminder not to overlook the abundance right on our doorstep. This timeless work addresses the myth that fame and fortune are waiting somewhere “out there.” Conwell also dispels the notion that men and women of integrity shouldn’t desire money or wealth. He advises readers to begin searching for the diamonds in their lives… at home.
“This little volume” as James Allen refers to it, has been a source of inspiration for millions and has influenced the work of many respected personal-development leaders. And with statements such as, “The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors, that which it loves, and also that which it fears,” Allen paved the way for many contemporary philosophers. At its core is the belief that “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
3. Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!
Within each person is a sleeping giant of greatness. With this book, motivational coach Anthony Robbins seeks to help you “take immediate control of mental, emotional, physical and financial destiny.” This personal-development classic delves into the specifics of goal setting, achieving success in relationships, talking to yourself and discovering your true potential.
The phenomenal success of Chicken Soup for the Soul offers inspiration on many levels. From the tenacity it took to get the first Chicken Soup for the Soul published (Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen were rejected by 140 publishers and their book agent before finding a publisher willing to take a chance on their idea) to the thousands of touching and thought-provoking stories, these books will warm your heart and may help you view life from a new perspective.
5. Grit: The Power of Passion a Perseverance
Pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes or businesspeople—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” Duckworth mines fascinating insights from history and shows what can be gleaned from modern experiments in peak performance.
First published in 1937, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie was an overnight success with staying power. Today, this book is regarded as one of the all-time best for its lessons on dealing with people. It is packed with anecdotes from historical leaders and lessons learned or taught by some of history’s greatest businessmen, making the read as interesting as it is enlightening. And the methods—calling a person by his or her name or looking at the situation from the other’s point of view—work in business and in personal life with family and friends.
7. Leadershift: The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace
Change is so rapid today that leaders must do much more than stay the course to be successful. If they are not nimble and ready to adapt, they won’t survive. The key is to learn how to leadershift. In this book, John C. Maxwell helps leaders gain the ability and willingness to make leadership changes that will positively enhance their organizational and personal growth.
8. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable
In bestsellers such as Purple Cow and Tribes, Seth Godin taught readers show to make remarkable products and spread powerful ideas. But this book is about you—your choices, your future and your potential to make a huge difference in whatever field you choose.
9. Man’s Search for Meaning
Man’s Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, and describing his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about, and then immersively imagining that outcome.
10. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
In this book, Carol Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success, but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment but may actually jeopardize success.
There’s room for you at the top! Zig Ziglar’s message has inspired millions to change their lives by helping them do, be and have more than they dared dream possible. Ziglar offers a nuts-and-bolts approach to developing the self-image, attitudes and habits that make people successful. Learn how to set and achieve goals, how to create momentum that propels you forward in life and why being focused on others is a critical aspect of success.
12. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
Phil Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery. In Shoe Dog, he tells his story at last. At twenty-four, Knight decides that rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, new, dynamic, different. Knight details the many risks he encountered, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors and hostile bankers—as well as his many thrilling triumphs.
While Stephen Covey wasn’t the first to write a book on becoming a better, more effective person, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People marked the beginning of a revitalized interest in personal development. Unlike many authors of books in this genre, Covey doesn’t promise a simple, quick fix for creating a better life. In fact, mastering the seven habits he outlines could take a lifetime. But as with many personal-development efforts, it’s what you learn as you work toward becoming a truly effective person that matters.
In Og Mandino’s classic, ten ancient scrolls hold the key to wealth and happiness in this classic parable. A young camel boy wishing to improve his station in life takes his master’s words to heart: “No other trade or profession has more opportunity for one to rise from poverty to great wealth than that of a salesman.” Desiring success and wealth, the young man sets out to become the greatest salesman in the world.
Thinking big separates the achievers from the average. In this best-selling classic, David Schwartz suggests that it’s not necessarily intelligence or work ethic that move people up the ladder of success, but the personal choice people make to believe that something bigger and better is possible.
16. The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph
We are stuck, stymied, frustrated. But it needn’t be this way. There is a formula for success that has been followed by the icons of history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—a formula that let them turn obstacles into opportunities.
17. The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact
New York Times bestselling authors Chip and Dan Heath explore why certain brief experiences can jolt us and elevate us and change us—and how we can learn to create such extraordinary moments in our lives and work. The book delves into some fascinating mysteries of experience: Why we tend to remember the best or worst moment of an experience, as well as the last moment, and forget the rest.
The belief that positive thoughts lead to a positive reality isn’t a new phenomenon. Decades before The Secret, Norman Vincent Peale wrote The Power of Positive Thinking. The book teaches readers that focused, intentional and unyielding belief is required before they can achieve the lives they desire.
Too often, life doesn’t turn out as expected. And money, or the lack of money, plays a large role in people’s ability to handle life’s ups and downs. Perhaps that’s why, in the 1920s, banks and insurance companies decided to distribute short parables written to educate people on important financial principles. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason began in 1926 as a series of pamphlets, the most famous ones later compiled into one of the best-loved money guides of all time.
In The Seasons of Life, Jim Rohn and Ronald Reynolds draw parallels between life and the changing seasons. When you learn that change is the only guarantee, you can make the most of each season as it comes into your life. It’s possible to learn and grow from every experience. The authors help readers understand that every season is necessary and valuable—even winter, when life seems harsh and your actions unfruitful.
21. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Grown, Here’s How
What is the secret of talent? How do we unlock it? In this groundbreaking work, journalist and New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle provides parents, teachers, coaches, businesspeople—and everyone else—with tools they can use to maximize potential in themselves and others.
22. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art effectively describes the negative force that keeps people from accomplishing their goals. Pressfield says we all encounter it—artists, painters, writers, designers, business owners and anyone else who sets out to accomplish something worthwhile. In this book, not only does Pressfield identify it, but he also details how to overcome it.
Napoleon Hill, inspired by business legend Andrew Carnegie, spent 20 years of his life studying the lives of some of history’s most successful people. The culmination of his research was the in-depth series, The Laws of Success. In 1937, Hill published another book, Think and Grow Rich, founded on the same philosophies of success. This book condensed the wealth of knowledge he’s accumulated into 13 principles for successful living.
The first of Dan Millman’s writings, this book is an inspirational story based largely on his college years. The book delves into the notion that a person can be accomplished and successful without feeling alive or genuinely happy. Millman learns “the way of the peaceful warrior” from a mysterious old man he names Socrates. His mentor leads him through a journey of self-discovery. The lessons the young man endures and later accepts are applicable for anyone searching for greater meaning in life.
For many people, change can be challenging. It can cause fear, anger and the feeling of being out of control. This popular parable by Dr. Spencer Johnson examines change and what happens to those who choose not to embrace it.