The past year had its challenges for nearly everyone. At Big Self, we’ve been working on our own processes and structures behind our goals for this year. For all the aspirations, we know that sometimes the right message or the right system–at the right time–can push us to actually get there. Here is our curated list of powerful books packed in succinct and manageable scopes.
No Bad Parts
Richard Schwartz’s Internal Family Systems (IFS) model has been transforming psychology for decades. With No Bad Parts, you learn why IFS has been so effective in areas such as trauma recovery, addiction therapy, and depression treatment―and how this new understanding of consciousness has the potential to radically change our lives. Weighing in at only 216 pages, this book packs a punch for powerful content in a non-overwhelming scope.
Let Your Life Speak
Parker Palmer was already leading a successful life as an academic when he recognized he was burned out and needed a sabbatical. That year-long journey to the Quaker community of Pendle Hill turned out to be much more. He stayed for a decade, absorbing the lessons and ideals of intentional living. We are the beneficiaries of his hard-won wisdom packed into a quiet, inspirational, and profound 128 pages. The author of numerous books, this was our first engagement with him and it made an impact on us all the way back in 2004. We even had him on the Big Self Podcast this past December to learn more about what he’s up to now at age 82
Man's Search for Meaning
This may be the ultimate book for finding purpose and strength in times of despair. Considering Victor Frankl composed this book after surviving Nazi death camps, it does put things in perspective. His ideas of how some survived while others died is relevant to our own ordinary lives. Perhaps this is why it remains relevant and a source of hope and inspiration decade after decade.
While there are many excellent books on habit formation, James Clear captured lightning in a bottle with this multi-million-copy bestseller. Clear’s big idea (wrapped in small steps) is that our problems aren’t with our goals, but with the processes behind them. Known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors, Clear provides accessible examples to form practical solutions to daily life and work. He draws on proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible.
Adams and Anderson have created a stand-out book in a sea of leadership development material. It ties together disparate theory work in a way that presents a coherent and actionable pathway forward, as few leadership books do. We have seen and worked with many leaders in over their heads, some of whom were more aware of it than others. It’s not surprising. The rules are always changing, and the world is more complex than ever. This book also details the difference between what is measurable and the dance of inter-personal dynamics: the science and the art.
The Enneagram Guide to Waking Up
Beatrice Chestnut and Uranio Paes at the CP Enneagram community are pioneers and deeply respected practitioners in the Enneagram field. We love them, and we love this most recently published book of theirs. It is packed with wisdom and the most current and useful insights we have to date on using the Enneagram for growth–not just typing your personality and staying there. The Enneagram is a system, a powerful system and tool growth and this book points us in the right direction.
This dynamic, married duo (Joel Mark Witt and Antonia Dodge) have been hacking personalities as a business for a decade now. When it comes to Myers-Briggs and understanding and interpreting its relevancy, this book is second to none. It also happens to be formatted much like a workbook. Plus, it has its own test. What we were really struck by when we first learned about them–and had them this past November on the Big Self Podcast–was how they use this system as a tool for growth and in combination with other typing and growth systems.
You Can Change Other People
“People change all the time,” write Peter Bregman and Howie Jacobson in their new book. “They make big changes like starting businesses, getting married, moving, or getting a new job. And they make smaller changes like eating healthier, waking up earlier, or listening better. But people change when they choose to change. If they feel like you’re trying to make them change? Forget it.” Drawing on decades of experience helping leaders, employees, and others to change, Bregman and Jacobson offers a straightforward, proven, and repeatable four-step process for helping people make meaningful changes. We also had a delightful conversation with them to kick off this new year.
Jerry Colonna is a professional coach, known for his unique teachings on entrepreneurship and business psychology. He is a co-founder and CEO of the executive coaching and leadership development company, Reboot and is the host of the Reboot Podcast if you’re looking for another great podcast. Among other things, he teaches leaders to embrace extreme challenges (as opposed to avoidance) and take time to discover the 'self' through introspection. Reboot is a must-read in the field of leadership and self-understanding. We had a memorable conversation with him on the Big Self Podcast in June of last year.
Twelve and a Half
We’ve followed Gary V’s work since his Wine Library and reveled in the power of Crush It. His latest book moves the needle in a necessary direction for our time and culture. In this wise and practical book, Gary explores the 12 human ingredients that have led to his success and happiness and provides exercises to help you develop these traits yourself. He also shares what the “half” is—that emotional ingredient of leadership he’s weakest at and makes the most effort to improve. Working through the ideas and exercises in the book, he teaches you how to discover your own “halves” and offers insight on how to strengthen them.
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