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Blake Reichenbach - Aug 3, 2020

4 Personal Development Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

For entrepreneurs, it’s tempting to look to some of the great philosophical and economic minds of the last few centuries for insight about your personal development. We want to be high-brow and sophisticated, learning from only the best and brightest.

As it turns out, though, Dr. Seuss put it pretty succinctly: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Suck on that, Descartes.

Whether you’re thinking about starting your own business, making a change in direction in your career, or looking to make life a bit more rewarding, this curated selection of books is a fantastic starting point. If you take the time to read through these (or just one of them), you’ll be in the right frame of mind to get stuff done and create the life you deserve.

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The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes

Book cover of The School of Greatness by Lewis HowesLewis Howes is well-known in personal development and entrepreneurial circles for his podcast, The School of Greatness, and his speaking engagements. This book embraces the same name as his podcast. It encapsulates many of the key lessons of the podcast, and Howes draws upon the experiences and wisdom of many of his podcast guests and others he has worked with.

What I love about this book is that it doesn’t fall into the pattern of many other entrepreneurial focused books of giving generic advice that’s a one-size-fits-all approach. Howes’ approach to defining greatness– and guiding others to embrace their own greatness– relies upon each individual’s values. Within the first chapter, he gives a brilliant example of a conversation he had with a physical therapist who begrudgingly talked about wanting to work with elite athletes or combat veterans. As Howes spoke with him and peeled back the layers, what the physical therapist ultimately divulged was that what he wanted was to have a slower-paced practice that allowed him to spend time with his family. For him, that was greatness-- that was the most fundamental goal.

From the beginning of this book, Howes dives in with practical examples and illustrations that bring his concepts to life. He includes exercises that you can do directly within the pages of the book, and also offers the activities as free downloads that you can access through his website. It’s an easy, conversational read that anyone– entrepreneur or otherwise– could benefit by reading.

This Book is Great for:

  • Figuring out how to define your long-term vision.
  • Learning from what has been successful for others in the past.
  • Creating an action plan for your goals.
  • Embracing your sense of greatness

Someday is Not a Day in the Week by Sam Horn

Book cover of Someday is not a Day in the Week by Sam Horn

If you’ve been around this website for very long, you’ve probably heard me talk about Sam Horn. Horn is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever had the opportunity to get to know. Speaking with her, it’s evident that her antennae are always up. She’s attentive to the world around her in a way that very few people can understand. If listening were a sport, she’d be captain of the Olympic team.

Within Someday, Horn defines ten action steps, or hacks, that “are designed to elicit epiphanies around your health and happiness.” She takes an approach of wholeness, emphasizing the importance not only of your goals and grit, but also of your physical and mental well-being. Reading through Someday, it’s best to have a journal and pen nearby. I frequently found myself setting the book down to reflect on my thoughts and experiences. On the whole, it is a book that inspires creative thinking and positivity.

Unlike some of the other books on this list, Someday is focused more on personal, internal reflection rather than specific entrepreneurial strategies. That’s not a detractor or a negative qualifying statement in any way– to be a great leader or entrepreneur, you have to have a clear understanding of who you are and what inspires you. That’s what Horn’s book will help you to do!

Someday is Not a Day in the Week is one of the most influential books in my entrepreneurial journey. I recommend it every chance that I get. Through reading this book and having subsequent conversations with Horn, I found a great sense of clarity around my own goals as a creator and entrepreneur. My copy sits in a place of honor in my house, proudly on display (and out of reach of the dogs).

This Book is Great for:

  • Getting a better understanding of what inspires and motivates you.
  • Creating lightbulb or a-ha moments.
  • Thinking deeply about your mission and values.
  • Regaining an optimistic outlook on the big picture.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Book cover of Atomic Habits by James ClearWe often forget our powerful even our tiniest habits are, and James Clear’s book Atomic Habits brings that power to light. I first read this book in 2019 while on my way to Florida for my brother’s wedding. I packed it intending to read it on the beach. Before the plane had even left the runway, however, I had already dived in. If I put it down at all during the flight, it was only for the duration of a quick bathroom run.

Atomic Habits executes on its purpose masterfully. Clear breaks down the science of habits, outlines strategies for forming new habits and reshaping less-productive habits, and clearly defines the power of habits. As Clear explains, a habitual action functions similarly to an investment. Even if you only see a 1% growth each day, that small amount of growth compounds over time. A small investment in a productive habit today can lead to a massive return on investment in the future.

Atomic Habits is the kind of book that you can return to over and over again. I’ve considered re-reading it this summer just to get a refresher and to re-examine my habits again thoughtfully. If you want to improve your productivity and break out of the ruts that hold you back from tapping into your fullest potential, read this book.

This Book is Great for:

  • Operationalizing your habits and routine so that they work for you, not against you.
  • Learning to be smarter about how you spend your time.
  • Understanding how our habits are defining characteristics of our lives.
  • Finding new ways to start generating compounding interest from the ways you already spend your time.

Mind Hacking by Sir John Hargrave

Book Cover of Mind Hacking by John HargraveAs the name suggests, Hargrave constructs a technology metaphor for learning how to recalibrate your thought processes. Within most coding languages, you have what are known as iterative loops, or just loops. With the way that loops work, you take a set of variables and define what should happen for each variable. As an example, if you were to write out your habits in code, a loop may look something like this:

{ % for habit in dailySchedule % }

<step 1> See { { habit.trigger } } </step 1>

<step 2> Engage in { { habit.behavior } } without thinking. </step 2>

{ % if habit == bad % }

{ % set feeling == “guilty” % }

{ % endif % }

<step 3> Realize what you’re doing and go back to your day </step 3>

{ % endfor % }

Assuming that most of my readers aren’t familiar with Jinjava or similar languages, I suppose I should explain this a bit. Basically, what this translates to would be something along the lines of:

  • You have habits in your daily schedule.
  • Periodically, you interact with something that triggers one of those habits.
  • Because these are things that have become automatic parts of our day, we do them without thinking.
  • If it’s a habit that doesn’t benefit us, we probably feel bad about doing it.
  • We recognize that we’re doing something habitually, and so we go back to our day.

With Mind Hacking, Hargrave outlines approaches for recognizing theses behavioral loops we’ve created and explores how we can intervene and redefine these cycles of behavior. It’s an effective way to think about our motivations and identify new opportunities for personal growth.

This Book is Great for:

  • Developing a stronger sense of insight into your own actions.
  • Understanding how to be more mindful and the ways that mindfulness can enhance your performance.
  • Learning to blend logical analysis with creative thinking.

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Written by Blake Reichenbach

He/ Him/ His pronouns. Blake is a writer, gym addict, dog dad, researcher, and general life enthusiast. He's passionate about helping others reach their goals and live happier, more fulfilling lives.

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