“If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” — Thomas Edison
I’ve put together a comprehensive list of personal development books that I’ve found to be insightful or useful in some way. I see personal Development as making the most of what you’ve got. There are many sayings about how you’re growing or dying, climbing or sliding, and that there is no in-between. Personal development is a path. It’s a journey of growth.
Get Better with Time
Time can be on your side. I’ve seen a lot of people age like a fine wine … they get better with age. It’s because they focus on their personal growth and development. They learn new skills. They improve their mind, body, and emotions. They improve their ability to take on whatever challenges life throws their way. They improve their self-awareness, and learn how to play to their strengths, and limit their liabilities. They manage their emotions with skill, they ask better questions, and they focus on the positive. They stay forward looking despite set backs, and they learn how to read a situation and adapt with skill.
Self-Acceptance vs. Personal Development
It’s worth pointing out that choosing a path of personal development doesn’t mean putting yourself on hold, or accepting yourself at a later point when you’ve reached a goal. That’s the “If-Then-Trap.” … “If only I had xyz, I’d be happy” … “If I change this about myself, then I ‘ll like myself” … etc. You have to bake happiness and self-acceptance into the journey. It’s about balancing growth, and enjoying the journey, while accepting who you are, along the way. Every might oak was once a sapling, and “mighty” is in the eye of the beholder. Behold your mighty self, every step or stage of the way, and impress yourself with what you’re capable of. It all comes back to the question, “Who do you want to be, and what experiences do you want to create?”, and driving from that, while you accept yourself, flaws and all, and with gratitude for what you’ve got.
The Way of Personal Development
There are many ways to grow. At a high-level, I think a helpful frame is to think in terms of motivation, skills, and feedback. Motivation is your drive, skills are your ability, and feedback tells you whether it’s working. At Microsoft, I’ve use peers, mentors, and managers for specific and actionable feedback. I also have a personal sounding board that I trust that gives me deep, effective feedback. The keys to effective feedback are relevant, useful, and actionable.
I focus on personal development through people, projects, and practices. On the people side, I use a lot of mentors and experts. On the projects side, I take on things that grow my skills or I find a way to learn something useful. By making it a part of my work, I get to grow more each day. In terms of practices, I test techniques I learn from people and books.
In my experience, people and books are powerful sources of insight and new ideas, while work and projects are a perfect playground and arena for practicing and performing … a channel for turning insight into action and testing results.
Call to Action
- Explore my list of insightful personal development books.
- Tell me what books I need to know about.
- Tell me *why* I need to know about them.
It’s a living library of personal development books. I’m regularly expanding my library and I regularly recommend books to people, not just at Microsoft, but I regularly interact with fellow lifelong learners beyond Microsoft too.