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Your Better Self with Akanna: My Top 10 Books So Far

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Akanna OkekeAt the beginning of the year, one of my readers made a request in the comments section, underneath my article: This Year, Do the ONE THING.

This comment was made by Tutu:

Meanwhile, can you do a post on your all time favourite books. Trying to build my 2018 list. Thank you.

I started taking personal growth and development seriously around September of 2015, and one of the personal growth activities which I’ve avidly participated in since then is reading books – books aimed at addressing crucial areas of life where we all need to develop in order to become better versions of ourselves.

It is from these books – the ones I’ve read so far – that I draw out this list of my top ten books.
I hope it’s not coming too late; after all we’re still well within the first quarter of 2018.

So, this article is dedicated to Tutu and all other readers who may want to build a book list for this year.  I hope that you find my recommendations helpful!

More Than Enough by Dave Ramsey
This was my intro to Dave Ramsey, the personal finance guru. I remember getting all excited.  I thought I was the only one who had discovered this man.  I went about telling anyone I was in a discussion with about him.  I soon discovered that he had been around for a very long time, helping people with their finances – even through a ‘school’ called Financial Peace University – and I had to have been living under a rock not to have heard of him.

This book of his isn’t really directly focused on finances.  It is focused more on wholesome living – living through your values and vision – which is the foundation for having more than enough of everything in your life, including finances!

Talent is Never Enough by John C. Maxwell
I like this book because it does the opposite of what society does, which is not to glorify talent over character.

Here, Maxwell teaches that merely having talent is never enough.  Many talented people fail to reach their potential because they think simply being talented will take them there.  And so they find that others, who are not as talented as they are, beat them at their own game.

This is because they’ve ignored the main ‘supporters’ of talent, such as: Belief which lifts talent; Passion which energizes talent; Initiative which activates talent; Focus which directs talent; Preparation which positions talent; Practice which sharpens talent; Character which protects talent; and about six other such values needed to guide talent onto reaching its full potential.

Very good read of a book!

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Need I say more about this book?  My last two articles were based on it.

First, it taught me that love is more a verb than a noun.  You have to speak it through your actions.  And those actions translate into the five love languages of: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch.

And by the way, I owe you guys a big Thank You for the wonderful suggestions you gave me in the comments section of my last article: So, This is My Love Language”.

There were lots of helpful, practical tips which I intend to use in my relationship, all thanks to you guys!

The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson
This book is great for whenever you’re about to embark on a new venture – something you’ve never done before, but you feel really really called to do.

It helps you to navigate through the challenging times of starting a new venture and breaking through resistance – resistance even from those closest to you, who either do not understand what you’re doing or feel that their comfort zones are threatened by your mere attempt to step out of yours.

It tells a beautiful tale about a guy called “Ordinary” from the land of “Familiar”, who decided to embrace his ‘Big Dream’ and move away to pursue it.  But he was met with resistance from his uncle, mom, best friend and the invisible “Wall of Fear”.

The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann
This is a very simple, short, yet powerful read.  It explores the 5 laws of stratospheric success, which are the laws of: Value, Compensation, Influence, Authenticity and Receptivity.

To be truly successful, you have to understand how the world really works.  And it works based on these laws and principles of creating value, touching people’s lives, putting the interests of others first, being real and having the humility to stay open to receiving.

I did an article based on this book (here).  And I guess it was good enough to attract a comment from one of the book’s authors. So, go ahead and check it out!

Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
I think the whole of Nigeria should read this book.  Our culture (broadly speaking) is one that doesn’t respect the boundaries others.  We are way too much in other people’s businesses and that’s not a good thing at all.

This book teaches you how to set your own boundaries – saying NO when you ought to – and how to respect other people’s boundaries.

My article: “Three Things You Are Responsible For in Life” was inspired by this book.  Have a quick read!

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
Two words for this book: EYE OPENER.

It shows you how your actions or inaction over time culminate into the situations you find yourself in today.  This concept is what is called the compound effect.

So, if instead of packing a lunch box to work, you decide to eat out every day at a very cheap canteen.  Well, after about five years, you don’t want to count how much money you’ve spent or could have saved.

Hardy teaches how to make major life changes over time through minor every day choices, because the compound effect is always at work and will make you seem like an overnight success when it hits its critical point, the same way it can make you seem like an overnight failure deserving of pity because “life was unfair” to you.

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This is a classic and a must-read for all.
It’s important to learn how to relate with other people and make friends with them.  Nothing of great significance is ever achieved alone.  We all need people – friends – for such things and they aren’t always thinking along those lines of achieving such great significant things when we first meet them.  A lot of work has to go into winning them over to our way of thinking while remaining genuine and putting their interests first, before ours.

This book teaches how to effectively do that, and has been doing so for many years now.

My articles: 6 Ways to Make People Like You and How to Lose Friends & Not Influence Peoplewere inspired by this book. You may read them again, but you’re much better off reading – even studying – the book itself.

The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
This was the focus of my first few articles this year.
I like the lesson here: Instead of changing a whole bunch of things in the name of New Year’s resolutions or setting goals, why don’t you focus on just one thing by asking yourself: What is the one thing I can focus on such that by doing it, all the other things will become easier or even unnecessary?”

In my article: “The ONE THING You Should Do, I suggest that you focus on personal development as your ‘one thing’ because “when you put yourself together, your whole world will fall into place.”

The Tanach
Nothing fancy here, just the Hebrew Old Testament Bible.
The bible, in my opinion, is the best personal development book out there.  It teaches you the essence of human existence, which is to: connect, communicate, collaborate and create.  And it goes ahead to show you how to best do these.

It is highly misunderstood however, especially with the many attempts at translating it to the English language.  Reading the Hebrew-to-English translation makes a huge difference, even from the first page.

While we know the first line to read “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, this one reads “In the beginning of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth”.

Just pause and consider those two statements carefully and you’ll see that there’s a whole world of difference between them.

Since I don’t read Hebrew, I asked a Jewish rabbi to recommend an English translation close enough to the Hebrew.  He recommended the Tanach Stone Edition as a “good and accurate foundation for understanding God’s word.”

So, there you go! Those are my top 10 personal development books so far. The list will definitely change from time to time as I keep on learning and growing.

There are actually some that would have made the cut had I only finished reading them by now, such as Rabbi Daniel Lapin’sThou Shall Prosper: The Ten Commandments for Making Money, which is mind blowing and one book not to rush through, but to digest.

I’d have to update my list every once in a while – perhaps upon request from any of my readers – but until then, Tutu and other readers alike, I hope this helps!

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