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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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                Last Updated on December 2, 2018

                7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

                7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

                When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

                You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

                1. Connecting them with each other

                Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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                It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

                2. Connect with their emotions

                Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

                For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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                3. Keep going back to the beginning

                Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

                On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

                4. Link to your audience’s motivation

                After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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                Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

                5. Entertain them

                While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

                Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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                6. Appeal to loyalty

                Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

                In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

                7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

                Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

                Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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