Top Five Enduring Self-Help Books

18 April 2017

A motivational speaker once spoke about how the person that you are today and the person you are in five years time – is shaped by just two things – the people you meet and the books you read.

And if you think about it, this is a statement that is hard to refute. Particularly in the realm of self-help books, and it appears that old advice seems to have ongoing and universal application, especially in reference to those iconic self-helpbooks of the 70s and 80s, whose wise words still have plenty of traction in our busy and complex lives today.  We have selected the top five that can still hold their own on the motivational self-help shelves of any self-respecting library or bookshop.

Self-help books can be found every where - be sure to be discerning. (Image courtesy of Getty)

Number One 

7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for the last 25 years has been helping many of us to become if not more efficient, certainly less time wasting. Originally published in 1989, Covey assesses the common habits of key successful people into 7 easy to implement habits for the reader to incorporate into their everyday life.

The seven (7) habits outlined in the book may seem to be stating the obvious but it seems that these 7 habits give readers the skills and tools needed to work much better with others and to make signiifcant progress on their own personal development journey.

Number Two 

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business - Charles Duhigg

Following on from the importance of positive habit forming, comes The Power of Habit. This book looks at the psychological processes behind the habits that form our daily routines. It discusses how our daily habits can become unconsciously engrained by our brains, in order to free up processing power for more important tasks. Duhigg breaks down each habit we form into three steps, which is called “the habit loop”. The three steps are the cue, the routine, and the reward.

The Power of Habit gives the reader a guide as to how to put the habit loop theory into practice and start consciously observing which routines are triggered by which cues, and the rewards for these routines. The book shows that  to establish new habits, this is just a matter of consciously assigning a cue and reward to each routine you wish to create.

Number Three

The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now blends psychology and spirituality in a quest to teach the reader how to see through the illusions created by the false self. The false self, or ego, is the main subject of The Power of Now. The ego is a collection of everything we think we know about ourselves. The Power of Now aims to show the reader how the ego is the source of all fear and anxiety, and that releasing attachment to the ego relieves these tensions. Critics have tagged The Power of Now as Zen philosophy with a New-Age spin – whilst there may be a grain of truth to this descriptor, there can be no denying that ego removal in the workplace is always a good thing.

Number Four 

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t – Jim Collins

This self-help book focuses on the characteristics that take a business from ho-hum to holy moly. It has sold 4 million copies and has principles that apply to everyday life as well as the business world. The core of author Collins’ bestseller is based on seven common characteristics that took average companies and made them outstanding – from good to great.

These characteristics are:

  • Level 5 Leadership
  • First Who, Then What
  • Confront the Brutal Facts: The Stockdale Paradox
  • Hedgehog Concept: The Three Overlapping Circles
  • Culture of Discipline
  • The Flywheel

These seven concepts cover everything from the importance of leadership to assembling the right team members. It also covers setting lofty goals and working as a team to develop a disciplined approach to sustain success.

Number Five 

The Road Less Travelled – Scott Peck

This book presents a gentler and slower approach of implementation of self-discipline practices as the foundation of sustainable personal and spiritual development.

The Road Less Travelled preaches acceptance of life’s ups and downs, and focuses on how to exist peacefully with these realities. The main strategies Peck employs are delayed gratification and acceptance of responsibility. By accepting responsibility for every action of our daily lives, because we are blessed with choice, we eliminate the bad habits and limiting beliefs holding us back from unlocking our potential.

There is always room for personal growth. (Image courtesy of Getty)

Not in our top five but of note-worthy mention is the infamous...

Special Recommendation - How To Win Friends And Influence People – Dale Carnegie

The grand-daddy of them all and published way back in 1936, is How to Win Friends and Influence People. Still a popular book in business, Dale Carnegie's four-part book contains advice on how to create success in business and personal lives. The book is a tool used in Dale Carnegie Training College and modules and includes the following parts:

  • Part One: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
  • Part Two: Six Ways to Make People Like You
  • Part Three: How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
  • Part Four: Be a Leader – How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

Feature image courtesy of Getty.

Tara Young

The experience of travel changes a person. I see my job as highlighting what amazing travel opportunities there are to broaden your knowledge of that great big world beyond your doorstep and what you may learn about yourself on the way.
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