Sunday, June 18, 2006

My fave career self-help books that are not career self-help books

When I was about 10 years old, my mother, sister and I went to our first-ever used book sale. With great literary perspicacity (a trait I had never seen before and can't say I've seen since), my plucky mom picked out 6 or 8 shopping bags full of great books, priced at a dollar a bag, which formed the core of my reading syllabus for the next few years.

One of these books was the 70s classic, "When I Say No, I Feel Guilty." I read it avidly (the concept of "the broken record" still sticks to me... something about how to say "no" without feeling guilty) and from then on was HOOKED on self-help lit! Now, as a world-famous career coach, I continue to explore this realm while getting to deduct it as well.

Many of the books that have helped me most in career development are not specifically career-development books. Perhaps that's why they're so good--they avoid the tedious lists and overenthusiastic stating-the-obvious of a lot of career-specific titles. Here are some of my favorites:

Julia Cameron, "The Artist's Way." This is still the single best book on personal development and transformation I've read. She is definitely channeling something way bigger than she. This is much better than her later title "The Artist's Way at Work."

Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, "Finding Flow." A cogent, readable analysis of what kinds of experiences make life worth living, and how to create them.

Rosamund and Benjamin Zander, "The Art of Possibility." How to see past self-imposed obstacles to create art, happiness and a better life. He's the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and developed many these ideas working with musicians.

Dan Pink "A Whole New Mind." My newest fave read! My clients across the land are grooving to his suggestion that meaningful careers for our time will involve innovative combinations of right- and left-brain skills. (See my previous blogs for a review of this.)

Martin Seligman, "Authentic Happiness." Techniques to retrain your mind to see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty.

Talane Miedaner, "Coach Yourself To Success." One hundred and one tips that, surprisingly, work toward getting your life in synch with what you want.

Srikumar Rao, "Are You Ready to Succeed?" A recent read. How to get out of your own way (notice a recurring theme?). Also reviewed on this blog.

Twyla Tharp, "The Creative Habit." An awesome book, about all kinds of creativity, written by super-choreographer Twyla Tharp. (Fun fact: she works out at Gold's Gym every morning at 5 am. She says, "The workout begins when I get into the cab.")

Don Riso, "The Wisdom of the Enneagram." A personality archetype system for understanding individual passions, preferences and temperaments. Back of, skeptics! The enneagram has made a huge difference in how I understand myself and what careers will work for me. Great for relationships, too.