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Top 10 Books for Promoting Personal Growth

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

Poor Charlie's Almanack by Charlie Munger - 10/10

If you only ever read one book, this should be it. No book contains more wisdom or practical advice. Charlie Munger is among the handful of people that I would want at my dream dinner table. Poor Charlie's Almanack is a culmination of Munger's most influential speeches. It closes with an essay recounting the mental models and psychological tendencies Munger finds most impactful in daily life. Munger is a true lifelong learner and he uses this book to impart as much of his wisdom as he can. He reflects on his successes, his failings, and the mentors who have influenced him. The margins contain insights from influential thinkers, business leaders, and historical events. You could re-read this book every year and glean new insights. I cannot think of a single person who would not benefit from reading this book.

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl - 9.5/10

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. Whenever I face a challenging circumstance, I reflect on this book and the power of the mind and perspective.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius - 9/10

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 facing the stresses of a career.

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

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 are unnecessary or a waste of time, they are necessary to excel in a given arena. But there is great value in processing a range of skills. Additionally, when starting out, whether it is 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.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck - 9/10

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.


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

Brené Brown burst onto the scene with her TedTalk on vulnerability. The success of her talk leads 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 as 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.


White Fragility by Robin Diangelo- 9/10

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.


The Gifts of Imperfections by Brené Brown - 9/10

This is the third Brené Brown book I have read (Daring Greatly and Dare to Lead). This one is the most compact of the three but no less valuable. I had something underlined on every other page. We often define success by the wealth and possessions we obtain, the progression of our careers, and the overall business of our lives. Wholehearted living challenges this position. The traditional view of success is full of the following traits: perfection, numbing, certainty, exhaustion, self-sufficiency, being cool, fitting in, judgment, and scarcity. Conversely, Wholehearted living focused on worthiness, rest, play, trust, faith, intuition, hope, authenticity, love, belonging, joy, gratitude, and creativity. Brown provides stories and research to substantiate recommendations and steps to living a Wholehearted life. This book is full of gut punches and challenging moments. It makes you question where your priorities lie, but in a good way.

Make it Stick by Peter Brown - 8.5/10

This is an outstanding book on learning strategies. It focuses on evidence-based approaches like spacing, retrieval, generation, mnemonics, and other techniques. I have applied these principles for my personal learning and for educating patients and residents. The book provides a theoretical foundation along with the practical application. This book is near the top of my recommendation list for students and teachers but everyone can benefit from its content.

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday- 8.5/10

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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