I remember learning how to read basic words when I was in kindergarten, and when I started primary school, I was able to start reading books. My father would buy me the classics and ask me to read aloud to him and also translate it to our native language so he knows I understand what the story is about. We would also discuss it and I would ask him about things that I need to understand more. Reading books stimulated my mind and brought me to places I’ve never been.
As I got older and my needs have changed, I got to start reading self-help or what you can call personal development books in addition to my favorite stories and novels. Some people cringe when they hear you are reading this type of written work as if you really need some serious help, but for me, personal development books can change one’s life in many ways and for the better. They may not be as popular as novels and a lot didn’t make it to the bestselling books of all time but I think it is high time people should start reading them. I believe they are easy to read, relatable and easy to share as well. A couple of authors I love are Dale Carnegie, whose book “How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking” has helped me as a speaker and Andrew Matthews who puts illustrations and humor in his works. I can read them over and over again.
So, how does reading personal development books change one’s life? Well, it has greatly influenced and changed some of the most influential people of our time. Fact is, according to Tom Corley (author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits Of Wealthy Individuals), the rich people actually read for personal development.
Here’s how reading personal development books has influenced the most successful people of our time and how it can change your life!
1. It can transform your character
A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that the characters in the books we read become the characters of our own. Although the study evolved around people who read fictional book characters, it just makes sense that what we read is really what we could become, and that reading personal development books can also transform one’s character. Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s CEO, for one, loves the book “The Road to Character” by David Brooks. She says it started a wonderful discussion between her and her daughters on how it is important to build inner character as it is important as building a career.
Steve Jobs (I’m sure you know who he is) says he was also greatly influenced by the book “Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen. Steve Jobs, whose name has been synonymous to innovation reads personal development books.
It just makes sense, right? If we become what we read and we make time to read personal development books, our characters can be transformed. There is so much in these personal development books that can transform your character, and always for the better.
2. It can help shape your philosophy
Our philosophies can shape our lives in almost every way. It can influence how we decide, it defines what’s important to us, it can affect our behavior and it is that one thing that can help us get to where we want to be. Warren Buffet, one of the world’s top investors, says the book “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham shaped his investment philosophy. He says it’s “by far the best book about investing ever written” and that it gives invaluable advice. He was only 19 when he got hold that book and it has clearly shaped and helped make him THE Warren Buffet!
3. It can reconstruct your mindset
What if changing your life or direction is as easy as changing your mindset? Everyone has a specific mindset that gives us a perception about every situation. When our mindset is limited, it would rather be challenging to set foot in the direction we want to take. That’s how important our mindset is, and reading personal development books can help reconstruct our mindset. Tyler Leslie, manager of Addicted2Success share how his mindset changed when he first read a personal development book. It gave him a perspective – a more positive one that actually changed his life. He says that you are the one who brings opportunities into your own life. His mindset changed by reading his first personal development book and he is now chasing after his own dreams.
4. It can help you connect with the people
We all have heard of CEOs sharing their favorite books to the people who work with them: HP CEO Meg Whitman has made “Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works” a required reading to HP Employees, and Apple CEO Tim Cook hands out the book “Competing against time” to the new hires but reading personal development books does more than that. There are many personal development books that just talks about how to connect and influence people. Lee Iacocca, the former CEO of Chrysler, loves the book “How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie” which he says to have some good advice on being a leader. Iacocca also said that “it applied to presidents and kings as well as to ordinary businesspeople”. Iacocca is popular for the revival of the Chrysler Corporation in the 1980’s because of his leadership and he eventually authored the book “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?”
5. It can help fire up your dream
Everyone wants to go from where they are now to where they really want to be. And sometimes, most of the times rather, we need the right information in order to get started – that’s how personal development books can help us. Dale Partridge, one of the co-founders of Sevenly, enumerated the books that he read while he made his first million. A man of success at just the age of 28, Partridge put 9 personal development books in his list which included Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap… And Others Don’t, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them, and People Will Follow You and The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design to name a few.
If you haven’t started reading any personal development books yet, you may check out these books authored by Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People), Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich), Andrew Matthews (Follow Your Heart: Finding Purpose in Your Life and Work), and Stephen R. Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) to start with.