5 Must-Read Professional and Personal Development Books

I'm sure you've heard this before, but a reminder is always good. Two critical success factors in personal and professional development are (1) choosing the right kind of people with whom to associate and (2) reading books that will stretch you personally and professionally.

Regarding the people with whom we associate, Jim Rohn said it best: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Who we choose to hang out with is one of the most important critical success factors for our personal and professional development because who we hang out with shapes our outlook, attitude, and character.

Another critical success factor that shapes our outlook, attitude, and character, as well as our mindset and philosophy, are the books we read. Because of this, I've made reading professional and personal development books an integral part of my daily recipe for success.

I've read some great professional and personal development books this year and want to share a few with you.

(Note: Each book has an affiliate link attached to it.)

ESV Study BibleSo you've probably heard of the Bible. There is no greater book in history than the Bible because the Bible is God's Word. But even if you don't believe that, I'd encourage you to read the Bible simply because no other book has shaped the world like the Bible. What's more, no other book has changed as many people's lives as the Bible. The link here is to a Study Bible, which I strongly recommend because a good Study Bible will help you gain an understanding of the context and culture of each book in the Bible. Also, I'd recommend starting with two specific books of the Bible — The Gospel of John and the Book of Proverbs. If I could only recommend one book, it would be the Bible.

Personal Development Books - The Difference by Jean Chatzky

I read The Difference a few years ago, but since it was one of my favorite personal development books of all time, I had to pull it out again. This book explains why some people seem to possess the innate ability to rise above negative circumstances and ascend the financial, social, and corporate ladders. According to Jean Chatzky, what these people have is “The Difference.” And the good news is each of us can have it too!

Personal Development Books - Wisdom Meet Passion by Dan Miller and Jared Angaza

Two of my favorite people on the planet, Dan Miller and his son Jared Angaza, address the unique dichotomy between the wisdom of Baby Boomers and the passion of GenY. The key question addressed in Wisdom Meets Passion is how can these two dynamics work together in harmony to become critical success factors for both life and career. This was one of the most inspirational reads for me this year (and I'm a Gen Xers).

Personal Development Books - A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller

After writing a successful memoir, Donald Miller's life stalled. But when two movie producers proposed turning his memoir into a movie, he found himself in a new story filled with possibility and meaning. A Million Miles In A Thousand Years shares how the two critical success factors of one's life can be boiled down to “writing” and “living” better stories. One of the most interesting personal development books I read this year.

Personal Development Books - Quiet by Susan Cain

I haven't read this book yet, but I'm recommending Quiet because Kathy (my wife) has said so many good things about it. According to Susan Cain, introverts prefer listening to speaking and reading to partying. They innovate and create but dislike self-promotion. They favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue these people and how much we lose in doing so.