6 Books to Read This Month to Maximize Your Influence

UPDATED: January 29, 2021
PUBLISHED: January 26, 2018
Our Favorite Personal Development Books, February 2018

Nimble1. Nimble

Make Yourself and Your Company Resilient in the Age of Constant Change

International management consultant Baba Prasad promises that you can have it all—sort of. Even now, amid the avalanche of disruption and rapid flux, it is possible to respond with agility, resilience and creativity. You need only tap into five intelligences: analytical, operational, innovative, communicative and visionary. Executives, entrepreneurs, managers and just about anyone who wants to thrive in an age of uncertainty will find practical advice.

Listen Up or Lose Out2. Listen Up or Lose Out

How to Avoid Miscommunication, Improve Relationships, and Get More Done Faster

No matter what innovations or disruptions come down the chute, communication will always be among the most important skills in business and in life. Husband-and-wife consultants Robert and Dorothy Grover Bolton warn that under the best of circumstances, most people retain only a fraction of what they hear. The solution is active listening. It’s not a new skill, but the Boltons dust it off nicely and show how to master it.

Thinking in Bets3. Thinking in Bets

Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts

A national poker champion-turned-professional speaker and decision strategist, Annie Duke notes that we seldom have all of the facts when making decisions. She warns that even the best choices can be defeated by bad luck, and the worst decisions sometimes work. To get the best odds, she says, learn to “think in bets.” This means letting go of the need for certainty while aiming to accurately assess what you know and what you don’t.

Big Potential4. Big Potential

How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being

The Happiness Guy, SUCCESS columnist Shawn Achor, turns around the success-happiness equation. It is not success that results in happiness, he argues, but the opposite: Happiness breeds success. Building on the ideas of his earlier book The Happiness Advantage, Achor looks to neuroscience, psychology and Big Data for support in Big Potential.

Achor, whose clients include nearly half of the Fortune 100, NASA, the NFL and the NBA, finds that success and happiness arise not only from individual achievement. Happiness, and therefore success, expands as we complement, contribute to and benefit from the achievements of others—co-workers, friends and family members. Success is not a zero-sum game. By helping others, we initiate what Achor calls a Virtuous Cycle that amplifies everyone’s success and happiness.

Endure5. Endure

Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance

This is a perfect book for the armchair athlete. A columnist for Runner’s World magazine, Hutchinson delves into the most extreme endurance sports: marathons, triathlons, Iron Man competitions, mountain climbing, ultra-marathons and so on.

If you ever wonder, How do they do that? Hutchinson has the answers. An elite-class runner himself, as well as a National Magazine Award-winning science reporter, Hutchinson has examined the question for years. He discovers that what we think of as our limits are set by our minds, not our bodies. Under certain circumstances, it is possible to push through to our true physical limits. The book is divided into three parts: the history of endurance research; the stories of people, such as polar explorers, who have exceeded normal limits out of necessity; and the latest cutting-edge techniques, including mindfulness, brain training and electric brain stimulation.

Quirky6. Quirky

The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World

In search of the origin of stupendous inventiveness, Melissa A. Schilling examines the lives and careers of seven historic and contemporary innovators. A chaired business professor at New York University, she literally wrote the book on innovation. Now in its fifth edition, her Strategic Management of Technological Innovation is a leading textbook on the subject in the world. This new book takes a less technical, more accessible approach.

Marie Curie, Benjamin Franklin, Nicola Tesla, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Dean Kamen share above-average intelligence. All or most of them also have or had extreme confidence in their ability to succeed even in the face of failure and criticism, high levels of detachment, and a burning idealism. None of these traits alone are enough, Schilling says, but when all three converge in one person, they deliver the gift of innovation. A few such key innovators in each generation, Schilling says, determine the course of history.

Related: 72 of 2017’s Best Books to Make You Successful​

This article originally appeared in the February 2018 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.