Throughout life, we constantly seek guidance and knowledge to help us grow and become the best versions of ourselves. For many of us, books have played a significant role in this journey, serving as sources of inspiration, wisdom, and practical advice.
Knowledge is power, and it’s no secret that reading is the single most inventive way humans have learned to expand their access to knowledge and power, and free up ideas previously not considered.
Below, I list five of the books that have helped me develop the most, personally and professionally, the success I enjoy today. I share them with you now in the hopes that you will find them as inspiring and impactful as I have.
1. Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged is a novel written by Ayn Rand in 1957. The story is set in a dystopian United States where the country’s most productive citizens, led by the mysterious John Galt, go on strike to protest against the government’s increasing control over their lives and businesses. Through the struggles of its characters, the novel explores themes of individualism, capitalism, and the role of the government in society.
Atlas Shrugged changed my entire way of thinking about businesses, leaders, government, and so much more. I read it first shortly after college and several times since. It offered a completely unique perspective than anything I had ever heard or considered up to that point. The philosophy of Ayn Rand also resonated with me more than any other I had heard before or since.
2. The Magic of Thinking Big
The Magic of Thinking Big is a self-help book written by David J. Schwartz in 1959. The book provides practical strategies for achieving success and reaching one’s full potential by focusing on positive thinking and changing limiting beliefs. Through a combination of motivational anecdotes and concrete advice, the book encourages readers to “think big” and take bold, confident steps toward their goals.
Although I enjoyed the entire book, and truly appreciate “self-help” style, positive-thinking books, there was one part that altered my relationships with people and how I view certain situations. “Is it worth it?” is a key question Schwartz encourages us to use in evaluating the value of our goals and making decisions based on their potential outcomes. He argues that asking this question can help us avoid wasting time and energy on pursuits that are unlikely to bring happiness and fulfillment. Instead, he encourages readers to focus on the things that truly matter to them and to make sure the effort put into their goals is worth it in the long run.
3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a self-help book written by Stephen Covey and first published in 1989. The book outlines seven habits which the author believes are key to personal and professional success, including being proactive, setting clear priorities, and seeking to understand others. Through practical advice and real-life examples, the book helps readers develop the habits they need to become more effective in all areas of their lives, from their relationships and careers to their personal growth and development.
While the inclusion of this book may seem cliché, I truly feel there are important insights in here which we all need to understand, especially for younger people in high school, college, or early in their careers. Two of my favorite lessons include “Putting first things first,” where Covey emphasizes the importance of prioritizing one’s time and energy in a way that aligns with their values and goals. Next, the lesson “Seek to understand, then to be understood” is something I still carry with me to this day. Following this advice has helped me build stronger relationships, resolve conflicts more effectively, and communicate more effectively and authentically with people around me.
4. Think and Grow Rich
Think and Grow Rich is a self-help and personal finance book, written by Napoleon Hill and first published in 1937. The book provides a step-by-step guide for achieving financial success through positive thinking, goal setting, and determination. Based on interviews with successful individuals, including industrialists, inventors, and entrepreneurs, the book offers practical advice and insights for anyone looking to improve their financial situation and make their dreams a reality.
Personally, I love the anecdotal stories about great world, business, and government leaders of the past (and present in the updated version) and how they saw the world or approached things differently than the average person. Learning from these visionaries can help change our own life’s trajectory—for the better.
5. Life’s Greatest Lessons: 20 Things I Want My Kids to Know
Life’s Greatest Lessons is a book by Hal Urban that explores the lessons and values that can be learned from life’s most important experiences. Through a combination of personal anecdotes and philosophical reflections, Urban shows how life’s challenges and triumphs can help us grow and become better people. The book encourages readers to embrace life’s lessons, both positive and negative, and use them as opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery.
Even though the book title is aimed at what kids should know, I think many adults could benefit from the seemingly simple ideas that Hal Urban discusses. It’s full of great ideas that help shape the way we see the world and how we attack every day to better our lives and the lives of those around us.
What Are Your Favorite Books? I’d Love to Hear
In addition to shaping me as a person and investor, these books have been instrumental in helping me achieve my financial goals and live a fulfilling life—especially in my work as a financial advisor. If you have any favorite books that are sources of growth and self-discovery, I’d love to hear about them and possibly add them to my reading list!
Additionally, if you’ve been looking to work with someone who shares a similar philosophy on life, now is a great time to get started. To get in touch, you can reach out to schedule a free introductory meeting online, call us at (248) 220-4321, or email me at email@example.com.
Justin Williamson is a senior partner and co-owner of Center for Wealth Management, an independent, fee-based wealth management company in Troy, Michigan. Justin has been serving clients in the financial services industry since 2001. He spends his days helping his clients achieve their financial goals and make the best decisions for their families so they can spend time on what they love and experience financial peace of mind. Justin is known for his dedication, integrity, personal touch, and ability to simplify complex issues. Justin specializes in serving engineers and other professionals who are close to retirement or recently retired and helping them maximize their benefits and create a retirement plan they can rely on. He is a seasoned public speaker and presents at numerous corporate events each year on retirement planning, Medicare, Social Security, and other financial topics. Justin has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration majoring in Personal Financial Planning from Central Michigan University and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner.
Outside of work, Justin enjoys spending time with his family. He lost his wife of 18 years, Heather, to brain cancer in 2020. He and his son, Carter, and twin daughters, Jaden and Kelsey, work to honor her and make her proud each day. Outside of work, you can usually find him coaching baseball, softball, and basketball, and spending time at their family cabin at Higgins Lake. Learn more about Justin by connecting with him on LinkedIn.