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21 Life Changing Autobiographies From Around The World

21 Life Changing Autobiographies From Around The World

Some of the greatest humans have chronicled extremely important events in their life. Reading into how they handle these experiences and how they overcome challenges can be both illuminating and rewarding. These 20 autobiographies will motivate, inspire, and amaze you. Read them, and they will surely change the way you look at life.

1. The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie – Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie

    Andrew Carnegie lived to be one of the greatest businessmen of his generation. His autobiography details his ascent from living on the streets to founding an amazingly successful company. You’ll gain great insights from Carnegie throughout the book.

    2. The Autobiography of Malcolm X –  Malcolm X

    malcolm x

      Malcolm X represents one of the most significant figures in the civil rights movement. His autobiography, published in 1965, allows readers to understand his philosophy on black pride, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism.

      3. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin – Benjamin Franklin

      benjamin franklin

        This autobiography from one of the United States’ founding fathers is a must read by both historical and self-improvement standards. The book reveals the formation of Franklin’s ideas, his youth, and his rise from poverty to riches. Benjamin Franklin represents one of the first true examples of the American dream – the idea that a man can rise to financial independence through plain-old hardwork.

        4. Up From Slavery – Booker T. Washington

        booker t washington

          Booker T. Washington represents an important figure in the struggle for equal rights in America. He firmly believed in education as a path to equality. Take a look into his childhood immersed in a world of slavery and the founding of the ideas that would make him recognized world wide.

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          5. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

          anne frank

            The Diary of a Young Girl details Anne Frank’s life as a fugitive during World War II. The book reveals the experiences of a teenager in the worst of the Holocaust. Her insights, compassion, and spiritual depth serve to deliver a diary beyond her years.

            6. Long Walk To Freedom – Nelson Mandela

            nelson mandela

              Nelson Mandela grew to be a notable South African president. Much of his memoir was written during his 27 years spent unjustly in prison. Long Walk To Freedom puts words to his ideas and deserves a place on your shelf.

              7. A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway

              a moveable feast

                Hemingway remains a creative to be rivaled. Published after his death, A Moveable Feast combines his papers into a work that illustrates his youth in Paris in the 1920s.

                8. Homage To Catalonia – George Orwell

                homage to catalonia

                  In Homage To Catalonia, George Orwell tells the tale of his role in the Spanish war in 1936 where he took up arms against the fascists.

                  9. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

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                  i know why the caged bird sings

                    In I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou vividly accounts her life growing up in the depression as a black woman. The story is both moving and eye-opening.

                    10. Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt

                    angela's ashes

                      Frank McCourt grew up in Brooklyn during the Depression poverty struck. In Angela’s Ashes he tells his powerful story of a drunken father, a loving mother, and a life under extreme poverty.

                      11. A Child Called It – Dave Pelzer

                      dave pelzer

                        In both a horrifying and gripping manner, Dave Pelzer reveals the shadows of a childhood haunted by abuse. The book can be hard to read at times, but ultimately opens one’s eyes to the terrible tragedy that is child abuse.

                        12. All Creatures Great and Small – James Herriot

                        james herriot

                          All Creatures Great and Small is a lighthearted collection of James Herriot’s stories as a veterinarian in Yorkshire Dales. The book is satisfying and easy to pick up. Great for when you’re looking for some light reading.

                          13. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King

                          stephen king

                            Stephen King, one of the bestselling authors of all time, gives a class on writing through a memoir of his life. It’s entertaining for casual readers and illuminating for those looking to improve their writing skills.

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                            14. The Hiding Place – Corrie ten Bloom

                            corrie ten bloom

                              The Hiding Place explains the amazing story of Corrie ten Bloom and her family. Together, they became leaders in the Dutch underground during World War II, hiding Jewish refugees from the Nazis.

                              15. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand

                              unbroken

                                Okay I cheated. This is actually an account of Louis Zamperini by Laura Hillenbrand, so technically it’s not an autobiography. Either way, you need to check it out. The book puts you into the shoes of a man pushed to the limit in the middle of the ocean after a plane crash in World War II. It will both inspire and astound you.

                                16. Night – Elie Weisel

                                elie weisel

                                  In Night, Elie Weisel writes of his experience with his father in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. He discusses his disgust in humanity as his father descends into a helpless state where he, as a teenager, must pick up the slack to take care of him.

                                  17. The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch

                                  the last lecture

                                    In August 2007, the doctors gave Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, a terminal diagnosis for his cancer. He gave his final lecture on September of the same year titled: ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.’ In his book he expands on his ideas of the lecture in a written form. Definitely worth checking out.

                                    18. The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls

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                                    jeannette walls

                                      The Glass Castle tells the story of Jeanette Walls and her childhood. With an uncommitted mother, and a father who loses himself to alcohol, the Walls children are forced to learn to take care of themselves. A great story.

                                      19. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl

                                      man's search

                                        Viktor Frankl lived to tell the tale of his life in four different concentration camps in Germany during World War II. Man’s Search for Meaning guides readers through these experiences and brings them lessons on spiritual survival. This book has some great takeaways and should definitely have a place on your shelf.

                                        20. The Story of My Life – Helen Keller

                                        the story of my life

                                          Helen Keller, a name recognized by nearly everyone in American culture, grew up both blind and deaf. The Story of My Life is her autobiography about overcoming such great obstacles through pain and hardwork.

                                          21. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood – Marjane Satrapi

                                          marjane satrapi

                                            In Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi talks of her life as young girl during the Islamic Revolution. Don’t let the idea that the book is a graphic novel stop you – it remains quite as moving as any other memoir on this list.

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                                            Published on May 18, 2021

                                            How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

                                            How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

                                            We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

                                            The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

                                            Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

                                            Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

                                            Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

                                            There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

                                            Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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                                            Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

                                            We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

                                            Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

                                            A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

                                            The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

                                            Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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                                            Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

                                            Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

                                            Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

                                            While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

                                            Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

                                            These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

                                            Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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                                            Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

                                            Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

                                            Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

                                            Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

                                            Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

                                            Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

                                            As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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                                            This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

                                            Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

                                            Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

                                            These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

                                            Actions Speak Louder Than Words

                                            Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

                                            Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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                                            Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

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                                            Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

                                            Reference

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