To keep things upbeat and fresh, I’d like to depart from the typical essay every so often. In the next two entries, I’ll give you my list of the Top 10 Self-Help Books I’ve come across over the years, starting here with general topics, and ending next with the MI (mental illness-focused).
When I was 25, I bought How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People, my first foray into remodeling myself. Les Giblin’s slim yet powerful book carried me through my 20s, and I re-read it every couple of years during that rocky time. It was originally published in 1953, and as far as I’m concerned, it should stay in print until eternity stops.
In 14 short chapters, he unlocks the secrets to personal fulfillment, with titles such as “How to Use the Technique Called White Magic.” To quote Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “To be able to listen to others in a sympathetic and understanding manner is perhaps the most effective mechanism in the world for getting along with people and tying up their friendship for good. Too few people practice the ‘white magic’ of being good listeners.”
Giblin gives us “Seven Ways to Practice Listening,” and not only that, tells us why it’s in our best interest to adopt the strategies he reveals. In each section of the book, he details effective human relations techniques, and at the end of the chapter, sums up its main points. Who would’ve thought to “help the other fellow like himself” (to deal with troublemakers)? Or to “adopt the attitude and action you want the other fellow to express?” (To guarantee another person will respond favorably to you.)
The bottom line: I’ve had this book on my shelf for close to 20 years, and it’s still in good condition and a trusty reference. Best yet, it’s available on Amazon.com for under $10.
Next, I’ll share with you the #1 self-help book I’ve ever bought, which isn’t touchy-feely, but offers practical solutions for overcoming stumbling blocks. Don Greene, Ph.D’s Fight Your Fear and Win I found while browsing the local independent bookshop three years ago. You take his “Seven Skills Survey” (by hand, in the book, or online. It’s not hard to complete and score physically; however, the Web site computes your responses and gives you your individual profile as soon as you complete the test.
Relax; there are no right or wrong answers. Greene, a performance coach, tells us that, “In as little as three weeks you can acquire the skill that puts your dream within reach.” Note: he didn’t say you’d achieve your goal in three weeks; however, you’ll be well on your way.
What holds us back? A low score on any of the seven skills: determination, energy, perspective, courage, focus, poise and resilience. He devotes a chapter to each skill, and walks you through the actions to take to boost yourself in that area. For each skill, he gives a 21-day plan for strengthening that ability.