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7 Personal Development Books That Will Empower Your Life

7 Personal Development Books That Will Empower Your Life

For more than two years I taught and encouraged homeless individuals. Books always help with that. Recently, I stumbled upon seven great books that have changed my life and the lives of the students I teach. Here is my current list of books that will empower and support you in creating a life that is passionate, curious and constantly evolving.

1. The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Bejamin Zander

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    This wonderful book is written by two musicians driven by a love of music and the need to share it with the world. Unlike many teachers, these brilliant scholars assign the possibility of everyone doing well by determining what that looks like on an individual basis. Each student must write a letter that is to be dated for the end of the semester detailing why they had earned an “A” in the class. When my teaching switched from controlling the information and educational needs to one in which I had people focus on what they could do to earn an “A” in their careers, money challenges and personal lives, the entire course blossomed.

    2. Linchpin by Seth Godin

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      Seth Godin allows the reader to stop waiting for permission to be great. I launched a pilot program that failed for one solid year. Upon reading this book, I figured out how to fail differently. I was being too cautious and refused to try things that were different, uncomfortable or unfamiliar. What I was creating and launching was new which meant my attack had to be new. To paraphrase Godin: If your job description and what you do can be put in a manual that means someone else can do it better and cheaper which means your days at company X are limited.

      3. Taking Responsibility by Nathaniel Branden

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        Although I have been reading his work for years, it was the stem work and the sentence regarding communication and commitment that changed all of my interactions with everyone I knew. Stem work forces those who choose to use it to look at what they do not why they do it. Honestly looking at your behavior takes courage and can lead to some wonderful fresh experiences. We can then choose to change or continue doing what doesn’t work but is familiar and easy.

        4. Money Secrets of the Amish by Lorilee Craker

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          A financial planner in a straw hat- This was the brilliant tagline that let me know this would be something my students and I would love. The Amish ways of self reliance, “not eating the marshmallow”, community support and repurposing items make for very wise life instructions. It is hard to argue finances with a man who has fourteen children, a house he owes free and clear and $200,000 in the bank. Using this book allowed me to experiment with three radical financial philosophies: cash only for one week, no money spent at all for one week and figuring how to get what I need without money changing hands.

          5. Overcoming Underearning by Barbara Stanny

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            As a teacher of financial literacy, I have heard every excuse imaginable regarding why people’s finances are disastrous. Ms. Stanny’s book breaks down five stumbling blocks that make us feel financially powerless. It also reminds us that with some focus, a commitment to changing our behaviors and some simple to use plans, we can create greatness. A perfect combination of spirituality and down to earth tools this wonderful book will make you feel that you can handle the beast that is financial responsibility.

            I saw changes immediately (an increased credit score of more than one hundred points and was able to buy my first home) and continue to reread this book some seven years later. I have shared this book with colleagues and my mother. The greatest quote is contained midway through: “You don’t have a problem to solve; you have a decision to make.”

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            6. And There Was Light by Jacques Lusseyran

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              Lusseyran was a seventeen year old blind youth who challenged the Nazis by organizing and leading fifty–two boys in a resistance movement. Although not an official personal development book, it encourages us all to look at our self imposed limitations and annihilate them.

              7. Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto

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                Gatto’s brilliant manifesto fundamentally changed how I saw education and learning. Whether it is detailing Richard Branson’s sojourn through London unaccompanied by an adult at age four, a nightclub singer who dramatically increased female applicants at MIT or a blind seventeen year old secretly toppling the Nazi regime in France (see book # 6), there are several examples that inspire and empower. What is really pointed out was how hungry we all are for something authentic, daring and real. I often write about burning the manual. This book doesn’t burn the manual it obliterates it.

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                While this is not an extensive list, it provides a great beginning to the power of books and the ways they can change your life and challenge and invigorate your thinking. Read all or a few of them and watch your life expand.

                Featured photo credit: girl reading book at home via picjumbo.com

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                1 19 Golden Pieces of Relationship Advice From the Experts 2 Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know 3 How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship 4 How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future 5 This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone

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                Last Updated on May 21, 2019

                How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

                How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

                For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

                If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

                Example 1

                You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

                You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

                In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

                Example 2

                You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

                People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

                You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

                Example 3

                You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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                The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

                Example 4

                You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

                Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

                If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

                Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

                • Understand your own communication style
                • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
                • Communicate with precision and care
                • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

                1. Understand Your Communication Style

                To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

                In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

                Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

                2. Learn Others Communication Styles

                Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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                If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

                “How do you prefer to receive information?”

                This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

                To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

                3. Exercise Precision and Care

                A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

                On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

                Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

                I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

                I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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                In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

                The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

                Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

                4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

                Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

                In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

                “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

                Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

                Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

                It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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                It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

                It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

                Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

                Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

                The Bottom Line

                When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

                I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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                Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

                Reference

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