It’s no secret that I love to read. I’m not sure what I would do without my Kindle and my library card. (Nerd alert!) Books have the power to sharpen your mind, expand your thinking, and entertain your imagination. I also consider authors to be like passive mentors. Books give you direct access to their wisdom, insight, and knowledge that you can enjoy with a cup of coffee or right before bed.
Since I’ve been getting more requests for book recommendations, I thought I would share some of my favorite books on personal development, creativity, and business. These are some of my most recent (and all-time) favorites, in no particular order. Each one of these books challenged me to think and act differently in a compelling and supportive way. DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with any of these books, my purpose for this post is to equip you with some book resources to grow your leadership skills in your life, creativity, and business.
Books on Personal Development
If I could have a coffee date with anything, it would be Brene Brown. I admire her work as a shame/vulnerability/courage researcher because it has helped me (and millions of others) recognize the value of being authentic and cultivating gratitude. Her latest, Rising Strong, is about courage — the grit it takes to get back up when you are “marred and face down in the dirt” and the importance of it. Brene shares tools like creating your “shitty first draft” to overcome perfectionism and writing the names of people’s whose opinion actually matter on a post-it note. Her whole process is framed with the rumbling, the reckoning, and the revolution to guide us to lean into our discomfort, process our thoughts and emotions in a real and healthy way, and come out the other side more aware, more courageous, and ultimately, more human. This is a game changer for how we process emotions, communicate with others, and how we see ourselves and others with the best intentions.
Additional Resources: “The Power of Vulnerability” | Ted Talk by Brene Brown
As a coach, it’s fascinating to learn about people's unique personalities, motivations, and wiring. Personality tests like Myers-Briggs, DISC, and Strengths Finder are tools to help you identify your preferences. “How the World Sees You” combines personal development with branding/marketing to create an assessment that clarifies your value in terms of how other people benefit and appreciate you. I thought it was a cool perspective to understand how other people (family, peers, clients, etc) view you. The assessment blends your two distinct advantages (innovation, passion, power, prestige, mystique, alert, and trust), and creates your distinct archetype (I’m the catalyst), and also gives you tips and coaching on how to work and market according to your sweet spot.
I read this book after I went through my own “do over” when I transitioned from a classroom teacher into a coach. Transitions are usually messy and hard to navigate, but Do Over gives practical advice in a hilarious and easy-to-read way. Jon talks about how every career transition may require one of four things: relationships, skills, character, and hustle. It’ll walk you through how to identify which type of career transition you’re in, plus some great coaching exercises (my fave!) to guide you through to the next step. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to be intentional and not just survive, but thrive in a career transition.
A while back, I struggled with saying no and had a disease to please. I think it’s something that women who want it all and do it all can relate to. “The Best Yes” is so refreshing because emphasized that the best yes we can say, is saying yes to the best opportunities that God has for us. No more overwhelmed schedules and underwhelmed souls. I think it’s hard to know when to say yes or no when I’m not clear on my priorities. This book helped me to determine what those are, how powerful a small no can be, and the permission to let go of trying it do it all, and focus on creating opportunities for my best yes.
This was another super timely book that helped me prioritize my work, but more importantly, my rest. Our culture is very go, go, go but God commands us to work AND to rest. I mean, He even did it himself. I learned a lot about the Sabbath and its implications in our lives. When we allow ourselves to work and rest, we are whole, and it makes a huge difference when we allow ourselves to live from a work of groundedness instead of running on empty.
Elizabeth Gilbert knows a thing or two about creativity — she’s committed to her craft of writing and penned the wildly successful memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. Her newest book, Big Magic, is all about the creative process, how creativity is this thing we all have access to, and how to overcome common fears/misconceptions to start living a creative life. My biggest takeaway from this book is understanding that your identity is separate from your creative work. Yes, your work is super important, but it’s not who are you. If you can see your work as an honor, a privilege, and something that you get to do, and something that you have to do, you’ll commit to creating an expressive habit — no matter what.
Steven Pressfield writes about the ‘Resistance” — the fear that keeps you from living out your most purposeful life. For anyone who’s ever tried a diet, started a new hobby, or launched a venture, they have experienced the Resistance. This book is so cleverly written, and fun to read, it’s like Steven shines a light on the darkness of the “Resistance” so we know all of its dirty tricks and become better equipped to overcome it. I would recommend this to any creative, or anyone who wants to do something meaningful in their life (which I hope is everyone).
Let’s be real — I’m a huge fan of anything Seth Godin writes. His clear and concise style is so compelling, there’s like bite-sized life nuggets. This book, The Icarus Deception, is based off of the mythological creature Icarus — who had wax wings and was warned by his father not to fly too high because the sun would melt his wings, but also not to fly too low because he’ll get caught in the wind/water crosshair. Seth shares tons of insights — like the difference between (this animal) and (that animal). What I identified with the most was the safety zone. Safe is actually dangerous, because you’re not doing anything. Taking risks is like jumping off a (rope swing?). It’s scary at first because you don’t know what to expect. But after you take the first step and try it, you may find that it’s super fun, and do it again. After time, your safety zone adjusts and the thing you initially thought was scary doesn’t seem so scary after all.
I’ve heard that public speaking is a very common fear. The first time I was invited to speak, I was overwhelmed with the logistics: What do I say? How do I say it? Will I present myself in an engaging and authentic way? My mentor recommended “Communicating For A Change” and it provided the structure of a meaningful message. Andy Stanley walks you through the process of identifying the purpose of the talk, crafting the message around it, and using a specific framework that emphasize connection with the audience and inspiring them to take action. I’ve started to incorporate this structure into my messages, and it’s really helpful in my preparation process to create a meaningful and and applicable talk.
Additional Resource: Creativity Lessons I learned from Public Speaking
This book was highly recommended to me when I first got started with my business, and I can see why. If you’re making the shift from working for someone else to working for yourself, it’s easy to fall into the myth that you can do what your boss does. This book is about recognizing the difference between working in your business as a “technician” (ex. photographer, designer, coach, etc) and working on your business as an “entrepreneur.” It takes one skill set to provide the craft or service as a technician and an entirely different skill set to do the visioning and business savviness of an entrepreneur. It seems like a simple concept, but this book empowered me to think differently as a coach versus a business owner.
Imagine driving along a long country road and seeing black and white cows over, and over, and over again. Then suddenly, to you delight, there’s a purple one! Seth Godin’s book, Purple Book, is a short marketing book that emphasizes the importance of creating”purple cow” customer experiences to help you stand out in a sea of boring. I love his perspective on marketing as chances to serve and delight to do things differently. He writes a lot on themes of challenging the status quo and shares a tons a fun examples of businesses who are being truly remarkable -- delighting customers and turning them into raving fans.
This is an amazing book about leadership and community and how people connect and organize themselves into “tribes” — a group who bonds over an a common idea. For example, The Ravens have their purple and black fans, Taylor Swift has her “Swifties” and Apple customers are loyal to their brand. It’s apart of human nature to cultivate a sense of belonging, so as leaders, we can create an opportunity for people to connect to you, connect to each other, and connect to an idea. For your business, think of it as community marketing and creating opportunities for brand ambassadors to do the marketing for you. This is a fantastic read for anyone who wants to lead.
This book is like a devotional with curated scripture verses and prayers written by fellow Christian creative business owners. It was refreshing to read God’s word and the accompanying prayers on topics like freedom, supporting your spouses’ dream, and serving to give perspective on honoring truth in your life and business. I felt like I was reading some of my own struggles, thoughts, and prayers and I found this to be a helpful resource while blending faith into my life and business.
There you have it. A short list of my library favorites and curation of the best books I’ve read so far on personal development, creativity, and business. I think that reading contributes to personal success and love getting my hands on an interesting book.
Your turn: I would love to hear which book has been your go-to favorite? Or, what’s a book that you recommend for me to read? Write your comments in the box below, would love to expand my collection with your suggestions!