In previous posts, I’ve identified the most influential business books of all time and the best sales books of all time. In this post, I list the books that drive readers to change their lives, improve their lot, and build better careers. Beware of the final (No. 1) book!
While he gets a bit preachy sometimes, Stephen Covey’s road map for living doesn’t just help you develop better habits. It also convinces you that acquiring them will make you a better person.
Best quote: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”
Prior to Dale Carnegie’s classic, mixing business relationships with personal relationships was considered a bit underhanded, like nepotism. After Carnegie, business relationships and personal relationships were seen not just as compatible, but as absolutely inseparable.
Best quote: “The unvarnished truth is that almost all the people you meet feel themselves superior to you in some way, and a sure way to their hearts is to let them realize in some subtle way that you recognize their importance, and recognize it sincerely.”
Napoleon Hill interviewed “40 millionaires” to discover the common thought processes and behaviors that had led to their success. His study of these “best practices” was revolutionary in a world where it was largely assumed that great wealth resulted from a combination of greed and luck.
Best quote: “All the breaks you need in life wait within your imagination. Imagination is the workshop of your mind, capable of turning mind energy into accomplishment and wealth.”
Anthony Robbins is unlike most motivational writers in two ways. First, he treats training the mind and body as a technological challenge rather than moral imperative. Second, he somehow manages to be both an inspirational role model and the most annoying guy on the planet.
Best quote: “If you can’t, you must. If you must, you can.”
Motivational books are usually about taking immediate action. By contrast, this 1902 classic by James Allen is a bit more, well, thoughtful. It explains how your thoughts mold your personality, and how that personality drives you to take action and determines the type of action you’ll take.
Best quote: “The dreamers are the saviors of the world. As the visible world is sustained by the invisible, so men, through all their trials and sins and sordid vocations, are nourished by the beautiful visions of their solitary dreamers.”
Far more than just a sales book, Og Mandino’s faux-biblical parable encourages you to live your life to the fullest by believing in yourself and your ability to help others. Required reading for anybody who sells. Which is just about everybody.
Best quote: “I will live this day as if it is my last. This day is all I have and these hours are now my eternity. I greet this sunrise with cries of joy as a prisoner who is reprieved from death. I lift mine arms with thanks for this priceless gift of a new day.”
I read the 8 best business books of all time (so you don’t have to)—here are the only lessons you need to know CNBCsource