Now, most of these books aren’t specifically targeted around improving your communication skills or social confidence. Instead, these books provide you with the discipline and useful mindsets you will need to quickly step up your social game.
In no particular order, here are five badass self-improvement books you should own:
“30 Days of Discipline” by Victor Pride
“30 Days of Discipline” is less of a book to read (I think it’s about a 40-page PDF, if that) and more of a mental ‘bootcamp’ to go through. It’s surprisingly intense and challenging. It focuses on 12 principles and practices that – by following them to the letter for at least 30 days – will create lasting change in the areas that matter in your life.
You will have healthier habits and a better looking body. You will have more pride and self-confidence. You will take your success more seriously. You will have a much clearer idea of what you stand for.
I’m not going to tell you the 12 steps – I’ll let Victor do that. Buy the book, it’s only $15.
It’s a safe bet to say that without the fire lit underneath my ass by practicing “30 Days of Discipline”, I would still be out-of-shape, 15 lbs heavier, moderately depressed, drinking a lot, and without the goals & drive I have today. Starting this blog is a direct result of following the program and realizing I have greater ambitions than just the next time I’m going to eat, sleep, have a beer, or have sex.
Click here to buy “30 Days of Discipline”. You really should.
“Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility” by James P. Carse
There is some seriously concentrated genius in this little book. It’s a 140-page book that can fit in your back pocket. It’s not one that you try to breeze through and move on to the next item on your reading list. Rather, this book is a mantra, something to read and re-consider how you’re approaching your relationships, your personal growth, your career, your spirituality…
The crux of this book is all about the context that we approach our lives with. The context, the perspective we take into a situation absolutely shapes the results we get, how we interpret them, and how we proceed (if at all). Carse sums up the difference pretty succinctly:
“A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.”
As you can probably imagine, the majority of us approach most of our lives as a finite game, with very limited, specific outcomes. Get into a particular college at 18. Make $100,000/year by 28. Get promoted at work.
‘Finite games’ absolutely have a huge place in your life. But, imagine how the richness of your experiences would change just by taking an infinite approach. Consider how you can use infinite games in your efforts to become more socially affable. Which ‘game’ feels more empowering: “Don’t be shy” or “Approach all social interactions with curiosity and humor”?
Start playing more Infinite Games in life and see how interesting things get.
“Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone” by Mark Goulston, M.D.
In my conversations and coaching of shy people (including my own experience), one of the greatest fears I hear is: “What if the conversation dries up? What if I don’t have anything else to say?”. It’s a legitimate concern if your goal is to have awesome social interactions.
One of the great, untold secrets of charismatic personalities isn’t that they are always tremendous talkers, it’s that they are all incredible listeners. By all means, learn to captivate an audience, become an excellent storyteller, and an all-around witty raconteur. But, don’t forget: in conversations, we are our own favorite topic; those who listen to us – rapt with interest – are the people we love to be with.
To illustrate this from history, consider the woman who once dined with both then British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and politician William Gladstone. After dinner, she commented:
“When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But, after sitting next to Mr Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest women in England.”
This right here, that’s pure gold. Read that over again.
TL; DR: Being a good listener is crucial to becoming a memorable, charismatic person.
That’s the key to conversational success and incredible helpful in building lasting friendships, relationships, and professional alliances.
If you want to learn how to do this better, buy “Just Listen” by Mark Goulston, M.D. and really dive into it.
“The Mindful Path through Shyness” by Steve Flowers
As I mentioned in an earlier article on Mindfulness and Shyness, making mindfulness a part of my personal growth practice was crucial to toning down my social anxiety and letting my natural, charismatic personality shine in interactions.
This book digs into what shyness is, how it manifests itself, how we create our own shyness, and – most importantly – what can be done to transform it. The book contains a number of exercises and meditations for you to explore and work into your own practice. Admittedly, some of these are a little hokey but there is a great deal of useful information written in this gem.
For many, it comes down to choosing to focus on and be curious about others, instead of worrying about your anxiety and what everyone thinks of you.
If you want a more in-depth discussion of using Mindfulness to transform your shyness, there’s really no better book to read.
“Psycho-Cybernetics: A New Way to Get More Living out of Life” by Maxwell Maltz
For a self-improvement book that is still considered a classic, this book is old as sin – I think it was first published in 1960. I found a first edition at my grandparent’s house when I was about 20 and it really set the foundation for my entire personal growth practice.
This book isn’t about shyness, charisma, or learning how to become a great communicator. This book is purely foundational, much like “Finite and Infinite Games”.
“Psycho-Cybernetics” is squarely focused on being specific in setting your goals. Maltz created an approach to help develop a positive, clear inner visualization as a means of creating a positive, fulfilling goal. Maltz’s philosophy was that the expectations that your mind creates impacts what your body creates in the physical world. More specifically, he writes that you must have a positive, loving view of yourself when setting goals, or else you’ll continually be stuck with sub-par results.
In one of the most lucid statements in the book, he wrote:
“Your nervous system cannot tell the difference between an imagined experience and a ‘real’ experience.”
With that statement, you can see how important it is to make a course correction if you have a negative self-view and to be very deliberate and specific about the goals you set.