The Top 10 Self-Help Books Of All-Time

In my lifetime, I’ve read more than 1500 books and I’ve had a particular interest in psychology since I was a teenager. In fact, I liked Psychology enough to get a BA in it at college and I even toyed with the idea of getting a Ph.D and becoming a professional psychologist. So, I’ve read a LOT of books on psychology/self-help in my life. In fact, I’ve probably read more than 99% of the American public. With that in mind, here are my personal faves, in order.

10) John Maxwell: Leadership Gold: Lessons I’ve Learned from a Lifetime of Leading: The book is exactly what it says: lessons about leadership and you really get a sense that Maxwell is standing on the shoulders of giants. This is a guy who has read all these other classic self-help books and he managed to cover niches that the others had missed.

9) Scott Alexander: Rhinoceros Success: This book will motivate you and it will also hammer an important lesson home: the people who win in life are the people who get up off their behinds and do something.

8) Robert Ringer: Winning Through Intimidation: This is a book, not about how to intimidate people, but about how to avoid being intimidated in ways overt and subtle. Once you “see the Matrix,” you start to realize the ways you’re coerced into doing things you really don’t want to do without someone actually pushing you around.

7) Napoleon Hill: Think and Grow Rich: This book was compiled by Napoleon Hill, who learned his lessons from old school legends of industry like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford. I think this is a particularly good book for high school and college kids who want to get an idea of what it takes to be a financial success.

6) Robert Ringer: Looking Out for #1: This book is like a practical guide to rational selfishness. It shows you how to take care of yourself first, without victimizing anyone else. Once that’s done, you’re better able to help other people and yourself.

5) Dale Carnegie: How to Win Friends & Influence People: I first read this back in high school and have reread it 2-3 times since. If your people skills are lacking, this book will teach you all the basic skills you need to deal with other people.

4) Tony Robbins: Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Achievement: This book is the precursor to Awaken the Giant Within. It’s chock full of great information about Neuro-Linguistic-Programming and I’d highly recommend it, but it suffers a bit in comparison to Robbins’ masterpiece.

3) Rick Warren: The Purpose Driven Life: This book is a unique mixture of Christianity and self-help themes — which may be why it has sold more than 25 million copies. Outside of the Bible, this is the best book on Christianity that I’ve ever read and it’s chock full of great advice about how to improve your life.

2) Ayn Rand: Atlas Shrugged: It seems like cheating to stick a work of fiction in the #2 slot, but this tome is as much a vehicle to impart Rand’s philosophy of objectivism as it is a stand-alone story. This book had an ENORMOUS influence on my thinking in my teens.

1) Tony Robbins: Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!: I’m a big believer in neuro-linguistic-programming and Anthony Robbins is a master of explaining it without dropping into that dry, eye glazing academic speak that you get from a lot of other NLP authors. If you read and understand this book, it will change your life.

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