My father was a great believer in motivational ideas. He read motivational books, had motivational slogans and was a believer in goal setting. He was also a very positive minded person which stood in stark contrast to my mother who tended to worry. I'm afraid I took more after my mother's viewpoint in spite of every effort of my father to influence me with a positive outlook. As a young man I worked on developing a goal oriented and positive outlook through reading and later audio tapes as well of inspirational speakers.
I was reminded of this background while sorting a neglected storage area at the house of accumulated materials when I found some motivational materials of mine. One set of materials I found was from the "Success Motivation Institute" of Waco Texas called the "Dynamics of Personal Motivation" which had audio tapes as well as written materials I had studied. I read my list of goals of 1970. I'm not sure I achieved the goal "I will develop a positive attitude of enthusiastic self confidence about all things" but overall I did rather well in selecting worthwhile goals to strive for.
Over my lifetime I've read hundreds of self improvement books and listened to a volume of audio tapes. I have found that great truths remain valid over time. Authors re-discover these truths, describe them in new ways and republish them as new. In the Bible, Ecclesiastes, we read "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." I think that is true.
So, with that in mind, of the many books I've read, here is a short list of ten of the best motivational books I've read. They are not in any particular order or ranking of importance.
- Think and Grow Rich Napoleon Hill written in 1937
The title tends to put one off, but Napoleon Hill collected some of the most important rules about motivation and success in this book. Allowing for the wording he uses to express his ideas, this is a dictionary of valid concepts everyone who wants to be successful should read.
2. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Madino published in 1968
Og Madino has an entertaining way of writing and is a great story teller. He communicates his ideas in story form which is both entertaining and informative.
3. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale 1952
This classic best seller has solid advice about mental attitudes. Keep in mind the most powerful force you have is what you say to yourself and believe.
4. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen 1913
Dated perhaps in its language, it nevertheless anchors clearly the importance of mental attitude and what we tell our selves.
5. Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz 1960
This wonderful book was written by a plastic surgeon who observed patients whose "deformities" he corrected were not benefited unless their attitudes were modified. He demonstrates the enormous power in the truth that the imagination does not distinguish between vividly imagined events and actual events as a learning tool.
6. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl published in 1946
Dr. Frankl survived German concentration camp and in the process observed why some prisoners survived and why some mentally gave up. His book documents the importance of why we must have a purpose in our lives.
7. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie published in 1936
There are few books that remain as valid in it's premises over 80 years as this one. Ignore the title. This is the bible of human nature. I have read and re-read this book to remind me about human nature and how to deal with it. This book should be required reading for everyone on dealing with others.
8. Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins 1993
The wonderful thing Tony Robbins has done in this book is to take basic Neuro Linguistic principles and put them in language everyone can understand. Plus he has collected the fundamentals of living well in an organized manner.
9. How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less by Milo Frank 1990
I included this very thin little book for only one reason. We must learn how to communicate simply and clearly. Brevity is the new requirement for good communication and this little book will tell you how as well as why.
10. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach 1970
Like Antoine de Saint-Exupery's 1943 book The Little Prince, Bach has written an allegory about achievement. Jonathan refuses to accept the stereotyped limitations of the "wise" seagulls about what a seagull is supposed to and how it is supposed to live life. Worse, they refuse to believe him when he tries to tell them about the wonderful world they are missing. Every time you are attacked for your nontraditional views this is the book for you to read.