As entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “The book you don’t read won’t help.” As the year draws to a close, many of us are looking for guidance to keep us moving forward in the new year. We want to feel inspired and focused so we can live happier, more fulfilling lives and achieve our goals.
These Top 10 books can’t accomplish all that without action and real work on the reader’s part, of course. But the concepts and examples they contain should provide more than enough spark to motivate and energize us well into 2017.
1. “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.”
More than talent or luck, grit is what makes the true difference in whether or not you succeed. Through research and a variety of anecdotal stories, Angela Duckworth, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, explores the current science and psychology behind resilience, persistence and mindset to help you better understand how to be successful in the long term.
2. “Be Obsessed or Be Average.”
Grant Cardone has a monster-sized obsession, and he says that if you want to achieve your dreams, you need to be obsessed as well. In “Be Obsessed or Be Average,” he issues a daring call for anyone ready to break through the bland and become exceptional.
Cardone was once broke, jobless and drug-addicted. He tried to follow conventional wisdom but flopped. He learned he had to reject naysayers and focus all his energy on harnessing his obsession to succeed. Once he did, all things became possible.
3. “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.”
Touted as a “generation-defining self-help guide,” this is a deeply honest (and hysterically funny) exploration of why you must identify what is important to you and let go of the rest.
Author Mark Manson suggests prioritizing things that have real meaning and value in your life. He believes that in order to succeed, you must know and accept your limitations. This requires the hard work of embracing your fears, faults and uncertainties.
4. “Hustle: The Power to Charge Your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum.”
Many people believe that hard work alone will allow them to achieve fulfillment. According to “Hustle,” that blueprint will get you a life you neither recognize nor want.
This book by Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits and Jonas Koffler teaches you to look at work and life through a new lens. It encourages you to discover projects you enjoy and find opportunities that support your talents, income and happiness. It emphasizes the idea that you must own your dreams instead of renting them from others.
5. “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.”
Your browser choice may be a great indicator of your predisposition to innovation. It’s one of the many fascinating insights Adam Grant offers in “Originals,” which explores how we can champion new ideas. Grant advocates for readers to buck outdated traditions and learn to speak up without getting silenced.
The book discusses how to build a supportive coalition and provides insights into how to choose the right time to act. As for the browser choice? Let’s just say that rejecting the “default” option is a hallmark of originality.
6. “Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business.”
The way you frame your daily decisions, the ambitions you choose to embrace and the goals you ultimately ignore all play into your productivity. In “Smarter, Faster, Better,” Charles Duhigg explores how you can increase productivity in business and life.
Duhigg examines eight productivity concepts that explain why some people and companies are so effective. Along the way, he shows how your worldview profoundly shapes the choices you make and dictates how productive you will be in life.
7. “The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage.”
Daymond John began his entrepreneurial journey with a $40 budget and a drive to achieve. His lack of resources became one of his biggest business assets. In “The Power of Broke,” John shows how facing hardships helps you learn big lessons faster than you would without those obstacles.
John’s experiences have taught him that diversity can be a gift. If you start with nothing but a deep desire for success, you must stay focused on what is truly important. Being broke gives you the power of authentic creativity that comes from having to hustle for your business.
8. “Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.”
“Designing Your Life” was born out of a popular Stanford University class of the same name, taught by authors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. The class walks students through the “wicked problem” of designing your life and career. The book does the same, minus the tuition. It’s a guide to creating a meaningful and fulfilling life, regardless of who you are or what you do for a living.
Burnett and Evans urge readers to learn to build their lives as a designer would — through experimentation, wayfinding, prototyping and constant iteration. The result will be a life that is creative, productive and filled with surprise.
9. “Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike.”
As a young man fresh out of business school, Phil Knight knew he wanted to do something new and dynamic. Starting with a $50 loan from his father, Knight went on to launch Nike. “Shoe Dog” offers his candid view of what it took to realize that dream.
The importance of relationships emerges as a key factor in building Knight’s vision. He assembled a unique and passionate group whose members came together to build a brand and culture that changed the world.
10. “Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days.”
Every entrepreneur and business leader has been bedeviled by questions such as “Are we going fast enough?” and “What’s the most important place to focus your effort?” Designer Jake Knapp created a five-day sprint process at Google to tackle these very hard truths.
He joined coauthors Braden Kowitz and John Zeratsky at Google Ventures, and together the team completed more than 100 “sprints” with companies. The book version of these all-out efforts is a practical guide for teams of any size and for anyone who sees a big opportunity, problem or idea and needs to get answers today.