Our Favorite Personal Development Books, August 2017
1. Who Are You, Really?
The Surprising Puzzle of Personality
Most of us still think human personality is a continual tug of war between nature and nurture. Genes versus culture, if you will. According to Brian R. Little, a Canadian academic psychologist currently a fellow at Cambridge University, science has moved far beyond this reductive binary understanding. A third aspect of personality has emerged, Little says—what might be called the follow-your-bliss portion.
The most important shaping of human personality and individual life occurs, he argues, when we reach for our dreams. While explaining what science says now about the key role of personal projects in personality development, Little says it is crucial for people to divert significant time and energy to creative work even at the expense of other important elements of well-being. In other words, follow your dreams and don’t worry so much about making a living. Seeking a balance between the practical and the creative is, ultimately, how you find who you really are.
2. Excuse Me
The Survival Guide to Modern Business Etiquette
When Steve Jobs traded a coat and tie for turtlenecks and jeans, he gave too many younger professionals the idea that the only etiquette that matters anymore is be-yourself casual. This is a huge miscalculation. Etiquette in business is more important than ever, warns Rosanne J. Thomas, founder of Protocol Advisors, an etiquette-training consultancy. Sure, it might not be the same as in the day of the gray-flannel-suit crowd, but good manners are indispensable for avoiding confusion and social blunders in today’s fast-paced workspaces.
The collapse of clear-cut rules of etiquette, the advent of open-plan offices, and increasing connectivity spur energy and creativity. At the same time, the chance of unintentionally offending someone (even your boss) skyrockets. Thomas offers guidance on such up-to-the-minute issues as cellphone use in meetings, proper office attire, electronic manners, business dining, telecommuting and more.
3. Good Enough Now
How Doing the Best We Can With What We Have Is Better Than Nothing
Jessica Pettitt believes waiting to become perfect is a major cause of underachievement, both for individuals and organizations. An educator, consultant, speaker, stand-up comedian and diversity trainer, Pettitt urges people to stop using perfectionism as an excuse for not trying. Don’t worry about failure, just get started. In witty and energetic prose, Pettitt explains how to make that happen: Be true to yourself.
It may be an old idea, but Pettitt brings a fresh perspective. Uncovering your authentic self and following its mandates, Pettitt says, brings about immediate improvement in relationships, work, community, general health and satisfaction. It’s the key to shedding self-doubt and self-limiting misconceptions. By being true to yourself, Pettitt says, you can build on your strengths, compensate for weaknesses, support others, and find success in work and life. To thine own self be true, Shakespeare wrote. Pettitt shows how.
Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us
The millennial generation doesn’t seem dry behind the ears yet, but don’t look now. There’s a very different generation pushing up right behind them, what research psychologist Jean M. Twenge calls “iGen.” Born in the mid-1990s and later, this is the first cohort of true digital natives. There’s never been anything like them before. Parents, educators and employers need to understand them because they are the future.
5. How Do I Get There from Here?
Planning for Retirement When the Old Rules No Longer Apply
For too many people, retirement planning has become a matter of fear and confusion. Many people now working will live until 90, change jobs numerous times, and have not saved enough. George H. Schofield shows how to dispel the fog by making wise decisions, beginning right now, wherever you are along the way. An honest assessment, followed by self-reflective exercises, and tips for meeting unexpected challenges are the heart of his program.
6. The Innovation Code
The Creative Power of Constructive Conflict
Disagreement is the soul of innovation, according to Jeff DeGraff, a professor at the University of Michigan. Known as “the dean of innovation,” DeGraff warns that a harmonious work environment is the worst atmosphere for creativity. Instead DeGraff offers a simple framework for bringing together people with clashing viewpoints and making the most of the resulting “dynamic discord.” Do it his way, and DeGraff promises breakthrough innovations for you and your customers.
This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
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Chauncey Mabe is a freelance writer, book critic, and blogger in Miami, Fla. For 23 years he served as Book Editor and Senior Entertainment Writer at the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. He was Book Blogger for the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, the parent organization of Miami Book Fair International, from 2009 to 2012. He also blogs for the Betsy Hotel South Beach hotel, which sponsors literary events year round. His reviews and feature stories have appeared in publications such as the Toronto Globe & Mail, the Serving House Journal, Inspicio, the Palm Beach Arts Paper, the Baltimore Sun, the Juneau Empire, and the Chicago Tribune.
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