I have set tasks that, if completed each day, I can claim victory on being productive. These tasks include easy wins; drinking a few glasses of water or making my bed. The tasks relating to exercise and sleep are more difficult, but are my highest priorities. There is one task that I've been doing poorly with. In fact, it's completion rate for the last month is barely above 10%.

The task is simple enough: "Read a book for 10 minutes." It takes a lot for a book to pull me in or be impactful. Lately, I've been mindful of books that drone on. I drop them when it's unbearable to finish. This is one area of my life where I am ok with not being a completionist.

None the less, I've read more in the last few years than I have in most of my adult life. Nearly all of them being non-fiction and relating directly to business or something I enjoy. It's an amazing feeling when a great book finds you.

Over the past few years, a number of books have stood out. These books have transformed how I view my career and myself. I complied a list of the important books and I share it early on when working with a Mentee. I share this list so often that I thought I would formally document it here. I've included a video from the Author as well as quotes that resonated with me.

1. The Happiness Advantage

By Shawn Achor @shawnachor

On the surface, The Happiness Advantage conveys thoughtful ideas. Concepts like having a positive mindset and not setting goal lines as a requirement to reach happiness (hint: you'll keep setting new goal lines). There is also scientific aspect of positivity being universally good.

The concept that made a lasting impact for me was the importance of creating positive habits that bring yourself joy and slowly work towards self-improvement. Which explains my daily task list.

For me, happiness is the joy we feel striving after our potential.

2. Give and Take

By Adam Grant @AdamMGrant

Give and Take struck a cord with me for various reasons. To this point in my life I have been tremendously lucky. For the most part these experiences have had a net positive effect. However, I've known many occasions that could have been better had I guarded myself by identifying "Takers" in my life. Another lesson I learned through this book was how positive giving could be. It has made me pay more attention to my professional network and look for opportunities to give back. It also reminded me of my bad habit of hedging when I communicate.

Powerless communicators tend to speak less assertively, expressing plenty of doubt and relying heavily on advice from others. They talk in ways that signal vulnerability, revealing their weaknesses and making use of disclaimers, hedges, and hesitations.

3. The Career Manifesto

By Mike Steib @msteib

I have an hard time telling if The Career Manifesto should go first or last. It covers concepts from the other books on this list. It also solidified my habit building and working towards goals.

Another thing I took away with this book is to be mindful of prioritization and optimization during time management.

When I was reading this book, I skipped past the homework of creating tables and plans. At the time, I figured it wasn't applicable to me. Shortly after reading this book, I changed jobs. I was reminded of what I imagined I would write down and retrospectivly could see the value.

Nothing in the world was built by saying no.

We forget that even if we fail, the most likely outcome to follow is that of success.

Go forth and do amazing things. I believe in you, and the world needs you.

That's it

I highly recommend reading these books if you are early in your career. I found great value in them even though I was more than a decade into my own journey.

The videos can help you decide if the books are worth the time investment.

I'd like to leave you with a thought. The main point is to get a little bit better each day. You'll be able to look back and see dramatic improvements if you set out with that simple goal.

Header Image:
Vancouver Public Central Library” is licensed under CC BY 2.0