Personal Growth Books

“Personal development is the belief that you are worth the effort, time and energy needed to develop yourself.” ―Denis Waitley

Man's Search for Meaning - 9.5/10

Meditations - 9/10

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World - 9/10

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success - 9/10

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead - 9/10

The Lessons of History - 9/10

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics - 9/10

White Fragility - 9/10

The Obstacle is the Way - 8.5/10

Tools of Titans - 8.5/10

Tribe of Mentors - 8.5/10

E.Q. 2.0 - 8/10

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to You Biggest Challenges - 8/10

Mastery - 8/10

Talent Code - 7.5/10


by Viktor Frankle

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"He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."

"The greatest task for anyone is to find meaning in his or her life."

"You cannot control what happens in your life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you."

"The way in which a man takes up his cross gives him ample opportunity to add a deeper meaning to his life."

"What you have experience, no pwer on earth can take from you."

Why this book?

Few books have impacted my life as much as this one. It has been especially applicable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vicktor describes his life in a concentration camp and how his mental fortitude allowed him to not only survive, but take his experience to positively impact millions of people was we was liberated. Whenever I face a challenging circumstance, I reflect on this book and the power of the mind and perspective.


by Marcus Aurelius

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"By focusing on those things that are whin his power and detaching himself from things that are not, he attains the inner peace."

"There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

"Read carefully and do not be satisfied with a superficial understanding of a book."

"If it Is difficult to accomplish something by yourself, do not think it is impossible for man; but if anything is possible for man and comfortable to his nature, think that this can be attained by you too."

"If any man is able to convince me and show me that I do not act or think right, I will gladly change; for I seek the truth by which no man was ever injured. But he is injured who abides in his error and ignorance."

Why this book?

Don’t let its size fool you. While it may not contain many pages, it is a dense book that will cause you to frequently pause and reflect. I nearly burned through an entire highlighter marking this book. Stoicism is a valuable mindset, and Marcus Aurelius was one of the master stoics. I immediately read this after completing Man's Search for Meaning. Reading both allows you to see an ancient and modern application of stoicism. This book applies to nearly every life situation and can help when faces the stresses of a career.


Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

by David Epstein

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"Eventual elites typically devote less time early on to deliberate practice in the activity in which they will eventually become experts. Instead, they undergo what researchers call a 'sampling period.'"

"Highly credentialed experts can become so narrow minded that they actually get worse with experience, even while becoming more confident - a dangerous combination."

"Rather than obsessively focusing on a narrow topic, creative achievers tend to have broad interests. This breadth often supports insights that cannot be attributed to domain specific expertise alone."

"Don't commit to anything in the future, but just look at the optinos available now, and choose those that will give you the most promising range of options afterwards."

"There is no tool that cannot be dropped, reimagined, or repurposed to navigate an unfamiliar challenge."

Why this book?

Do we need to specialize to succeed? This book throws cold water on the specialization movement we are witnessing in the sports world. This does not mean deliberate practice and homing specific skills is unnecessary or a waste of time, they are necessary to excel in a given arena. But there is great value in pocessing a range of skills. Additionally, when starting out, wether it be a child ready to begin organized sports or a new graduate seeking their first "real world" job, we benefit from a "sampling period." This book uses research to show the benefits of developing a range of skills and experiences to excel in your career endeavors.


by Carol Dweck

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Fixed Mindset

  • Your qualities are carved in stone and haracteristics are fixed.

  • Is afraid of failure and avoid risks

  • Looks for excuses

  • Values success above all and looks down on people

  • "I can't do it"

Growth Mindset

  • Basic qualities can be cultivated through effort.

  • Encourages learning and effort

  • Looks for answers and solutions

  • Recignizes it takes time to develop

  • "I can't do it yet"

"You are not a failure until you start to blame"

Why this book?

This was one of two books the Emory University DPT program gave its graduates. It very succinctly provides two paths you can take in your career and personal life. You can view life from a growth mindset, one that sees opportunity in everything, or a fixed mindset, one that believes the cards are dealt and we cannot change as people. It was a great book to read prior to the start of the rigors of residency

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Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

by Brené Brown

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"What we know matters, but who we are matters more."

"There is no equation where taking risks, braving uncertainty, and opening ourselves up to emotional exposure equal weakness."

"Experiencing vulnerability isn't a choice - the only choice we have is how we're going to respond when we are confronted with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure."

"The way we talk to ourselves determines how we feel and how vulnerable we can be."

  • Guilt is "I did something bad"

  • Shame is "I am bad"

"We experience belonging when we feel part of something bigger than ourselves. True belonging only happens when we present our real selves. Our sense of belonging can only be equal to our self-acceptance."

Why this book?

Brené Brown burst onto the scene with her TedTalk on vulnerability. The success of her talk lead to this book, which provides in-depth insight into why we experience shame and vulnerability. Vulnerability is inescapable and learning how to manage it helps us grow and develop relationships. Shame, which is often used a strategy to manipulate people, only breaks down relationships. It should never be a tactic in debate or education. This book is full of emotion and provides immediate applicable mindsets and strategies.

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by Will and Ariel Durant

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"The imitative majority follows the innovating minority, and this follows the originative individual, in adapting new responses to the demands of environment or survival."

"Intellect is a vital force in history, but it can also be a dissolvent and destructive power."

"No one man, however brilliant or well-informed, can come in one lifetime such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs of institutions of society, for these are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history."

"It is good that new ideas should be heard, for the sake of the few that can be usedl but it Is also good that new ideas should be compelled to go through the mill of objection, opposition, and contumely; this is the trial heat which innovators mist survive before being allowed to enter the human race."

"Consider education not as the painful accumulation of facts and dates and reigns, nor merely the necessary preparation of the individual to earn his keep in the world, but as the transmission of our mental, moral, technical and aesthetic heritage as fully as possible to as many as possible, for the enlargement of man's understanding, control, embellishment, and enjoyment of life."

Why this book?

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The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

by Daniel James Brown

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“It’s not a question of whether you will hurt, or of how much you will hurt; it’s a question of what you will do, and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you.”

“It takes energy to get angry. It eats you up inside. I can't waste my energy like that and expect to get ahead. When they left, it took everything I had in me just to survive. Now I have to stay focused. I've just gotta take care of it myself' Joe Rantz”

“What mattered more than how hard a man rowed was how well everything he did in the boat harmonized with what the other fellows were doing. And a man couldn’t harmonize with his crewmates unless he opened his heart to them. He had to care about his crew.”

“The ability to yield, to bend, to give way, to accommodate, he said, was sometimes a source of strength in men as well as in wood, so long as it was helmed by inner resolve and by principle.”

“Harmony, balance, and rhythm. They’re the three things that stay with you your whole life. Without them civilization is out of whack. And that’s why an oarsman, when he goes out in life, he can fight it, he can handle life. That’s what he gets from rowing.”

Why this book?


White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

by Robin Diangelo

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“While implicit bias is always at play because all humans have bias, inequity can occur simply through homogeneity; if I am not aware of the barriers you face, then I won't see them, much less be motivated to remove them. Not will I be motivated to remove the barriers if they provide an advantage to which I feel entitled."

"Discrimination is action based on prejudice. These actions include ignoring, exclusion, threats, ridicule, slander, and violence.

“The simplistic idea that racism is limited to individual intentional acts committed by unkind people is at the root of virtually all white defensiveness on this topic.”

"It is white people’s responsibility to be less fragile; people of color don’t need to twist themselves into knots trying to navigate us as painlessly as possible.”

"Interrupting racism takes courage and intentionality; the interruption is by definition not passive or compliant."

Why this book?

This book was eye-opening for me. I have never considered myself a racist, yet this book challenges how my thoughts and actions contribute to a systemic issue. When Diangelo refers to systemic racism, she is not saying all whites hold a conscious dislike of people of race, but instead, that we are complicit to a system. "When a racial group's collective prejudice is backed by the power of legal authority and institutional control, it is transformed into racism, a far-reaching system that functions independently from the intentions or self-images of individual actors." White fragility explains why whites often throw up barriers, become defensive, and separate themselves from racism. This book is only the start, but it is a good one. It is our responsibility to self-educate and embrace challenging conversations. We have a lot of work to do.

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The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

by Ryan Holiday

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“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”

“Focus on the moment, not the monsters that may or may not be up ahead.”

“Just because your mind tells you that something is awful or evil or unplanned or otherwise negative doesn’t mean you have to agree. Just because other people say that something is hopeless or crazy or broken to pieces doesn’t mean it is. We decide what story to tell ourselves.”

“Where the head goes, the body follows. Perception precedes action. Right action follows the right perspective.”

“You know what’s better than building things up in your imagination? Building things up in real life.”

Why this book?

If you haven't read any of the stoics, this is a great introduction to Stoicism and emotional regulation. Holiday is a true lifelong learner, having read hundreds of books and publishing multiple before the age of 30. In this book, Holiday discusses the power of Stoicism and finding benefits from challenges. He takes lessons from many leaders who have employed Stoicism - Roosevelt, Lincoln, Shakespear - and succinctly applies them to modern-day life. 

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Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers

by Tim Ferris

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"You don't succeed because you have no weaknesses; you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them."

Let go of what's not working and really assess what is working and 'what can I be excited about?"

"There is a big difference between understanding something and simply knowing its name or labeling it."

"If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present. - Lao Tzu"

"Achieving the extraordinary is not a linear process."

Why this book?

Tool of Titans is a book comprising of curated segments from the TIm Ferris Show. The book is full of advice and anecdotes from experts in health, finance, and leadership. The book is divided into the sections 'healthy,' 'wealthy', and 'wisdom.' The pace of the book varies greatly. Some sections cause me to pause and reflect while others I skim through or skip altogether. It is a book that can be tailored to the season of life you are in. This, along with Tribe of Mentors, could be reread multiple times and teach new lessons on each occasion.

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Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World

by Tim Ferris

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"Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask."

"If you want uncommonly clear results, ask uncommonly clear questions."

"The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything."

"The more you run from your fears, the bigger they get, but the more you fo into them, the more they tend to vanish like a mirage."

"Busy is a decision."

Why this book?

Like Tools of TitansTribe of Mentors is a compilation of advice from some of the world's leaders in business, finance, art, athletics, and technology. Tim Ferris sent out 11 questions to every leader in the world he had a desire to learn from. The book is a curation of the responses he received. Many of the responses were from leaders in industries not related to healthcare, but the advice provided was still valuable. It is a thick book, and some of the advice becomes redundant as you near the end, but it is well worth the read.

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Emotional Intelligence 2.0

by Jean Greaves and Travis Bradberry

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“The biggest obstacle to increasing your self-awareness is the tendency to avoid the discomfort that comes from seeing yourself as you really are.”

“Remember, feedback is meant to address the problem, not the person.”

“You do control the thoughts that follow an emotion, and you have a great deal of say in how you react to an emotion—as long as you are aware of it.”

“Good decisions require far more than factual knowledge. They are made using self-knowledge and emotional mastery when they’re needed most.”

“Your brain has a difficult time distinguishing between what you see with your eyes and what you visualize in your mind.”

Why this book?

This book provides foundational knowledge of emotional intelligence. More research has been conducted since the publishing of this book, but many of the primary concepts remain valuable. We cannot simply rely on intelligence for achieving success. There will be the occasional Sheldon Coopers of the world, but the amount of success will still be limited without emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a skill to be developed and refined.


Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges

by Amy Cuddy

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“Presence emerges when we feel personally powerful, which allows us to be acutely attuned to our most sincere selves.”

“preparation is obviously important, but at some point, you must stop preparing content and start preparing mind-set. You have to shift from what you’ll say to how you’ll say it.”

“focus less on the impression you’re making on others and more on the impression you’re making on yourself.”

“Powerful people initiate speech more often, talk more overall, and make more eye contact while they’re speaking than powerless people do. When we feel powerful, we speak more slowly and take more time. We don’t rush. We’re not afraid to pause. We feel entitled to the time we’re using.”

“Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.”

Why this book?

Talk Like Ted provided me detailed, actionable strategies to implement and practice to improve my delivery of a message, especially in a formal setting; Presence is the foundation those strategies are built upon. Like Brené Brown, Amy Cuddy provided a TedTalk on her research that went viral. Cuddy currently sits at #2 on the all-time watched list with 58 million views (Brown is #4). This book expands on her ideas of presence. Presence influences our confidence, both internalization and external perseption. It is one of four books all our residents read and I encourage any student or new graduate to grab a copy. Watch the TedTalk at the very least (same with Brown and Simon Sinek, who sites at #3 all time)



by Robert Greene

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"In order to master a field, you must love the subject and feel a profound connection to it."


"The greatest impediment to creativity is impatience"

"A great mentor instills an overall love of learning, and teaches a protege how to think and reason in any kind of situation - the greatst skill of all"


"It is the choice of where to direct creative energy that makes the master"

"You cannot find anything new if you are unwilling to leave the shore"

Why this book?

Who doesn't want to master their craft? Most new graduates who pursue a residency or an aggressive mentorship/continuing education combination aim to be expert clinicians. This takes time. The apprenticeship model (7 years) has been used for centuries to develop masters. It necessitates formal mentorship - real mentorship, not simply side-by-side treating - deliberate practice, and willingness tobe creative. This book provides examples in a variety of fields to highlight various common themes among masters throughout history. It is an interesting contrast from the book Range. They can co-exist, but it depends on your career goals and the skills you are trying to master. Becoming a master physical therapist is more than perfecting manual therapy.

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The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.

by Daniel Coyle

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"Making progress is a matter of small failures and intense focus."

"Struggle is a biological requirement of deep practice and subsequent learning."

"Master coaches offer small, targeted, highly specific adjustments. They have extraordinary sensitivity to the person they are teaching, customizing each message to each individuals personality."

"Coaching is a long, intimate conversation, a series of signals and responses that move toward a shared goal."

"Help people to become an independent thinker, a problem solver"

Why this book?

The Talent Code explores the biology of improving skills. Coyle visits talent "hot spots" to interview and learn from some of the most successful coaches and the techniques they use. He pairs this with the biological basis for forming and enhancing neural connections for the activities we perform. The book contains some of the key concepts of deliberate practice, flow, coaching psychology, and habit formation. The final chapter loses credibility with the failure of JaMarcus Russell's career, but overall the book provides some good take-aways that can be immediately applied.

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