Most people spend most of their life working.
Yet, only a few try to improve how they work.
By working only one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. This is what James Clear calls the accumulative advantage:
“What begins as a small advantage gets bigger over time. One plant only needs a slight edge in the beginning to crowd out the competition and take over the entire forest.”
Reading the right books is the simplest and fastest way to get one percent better each day.
And by learning and applying strategies from the smartest minds, you can improve how you work step by step.
I regret I didn’t make reading a habit earlier. Yet, since I realized the books’ potential, I read every day. Since 2016, I’ve read 161 books.
Here is the list of seven books that will change the way you work, including why they‘re relevant and when you might want to read them.
Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker
This one is a fantastic meta-analysis of the latest scientific findings related to the Western idea of “success.”
Barker combines storytelling with science and shares how you can apply his findings to your work life.
If you question whether you’re on your right career path and look for bulletproof advice, this one is for you.
Most of Barker’s lessons are so simple yet effective that you will be astonished.
“Great mentors and great teachers help you learn faster. Not only should you care about your mentors; the mentors who really make you succeed need to care about you. When you relate to someone you look up to, you get motivated. And when that person makes you feel you can do that too, bang-that produces real results.”
Deep Work by Cal Newport
This book will improve how you work on various levels. After reading Deep Work, I stopped procrastinating and quit Instagram and Snapchat.
Deep work is a must-read for anyone doing any kind of work as it teaches you how to produce your best output. It’s also an excellent read for anyone who struggles to concentrate and achieve great results when life is distracting.
Cal Newport provides concrete, actionable advice on how to focus and engage in, what he calls, deep work. By putting deliberate thought into what you do, you’ll be less inclined to procrastinate.
“Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love — is the sum of what you focus on.”
Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
In Ego is the Enemy, he helps us to get a deeper understanding of who we are. After reading, you’ll understand the anatomy of our success and failure.
The book is not only packed with inspiration that will empower you to produce your best work, but also includes actionable advice on how to live your best life.
It’s an ideal read for anyone who is either early in her career or achieved success and wonders what to do next.
“There’s no one to perform for. There is just work to be done and lessons to be learned, in all that’s around us.”
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
This one is quite different from the rest of the list, but there are a lot of life lessons to learn from this page-turner.
Bad Blood portraits the breathtaking rise and the surprising collapse of a unicorn startup in a way every reader can relate and form her own opinion.
I gasped out loud while reading this thriller-like business book as it shows what happens when a CEO and prioritizes ego above all else.
Bad Blood is worthwhile for anyone struggling with ethical questions or interested in the importance of honest work.
“The way Theranos is operating is like trying to build a bus while you’re driving the bus. Someone is going to get killed.”
The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhou
A consultant shared that she’d read and discussed this book at her Boston Consulting Group book club.
To be honest, I didn’t expect much. I thought it would go along the lines of other mediocre self-help fluff.
Turns out I was wrong.
Julie Zhou might turn into the Peter Drucker of our time. She shares everything from leading teams to managing oneself and nurturing culture.
Throughout the book, she asks powerful self-reflection questions and shares simple, yet applicable principles to excel at work.
This book is a growth bible for anyone who wants to step up from employee to a manager or recently got promoted to managing people.
“What opportunities do you see for me to do more of what I do well? What do you think are the biggest things holding me back from having greater impact?”
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
The title sounds like clickbait, I know. But this book delivers on its promises as you access the brains of world-class performers.
I’ve read all books of Tim Ferriss but found this by far the most inspiring piece. Tools of Titans is an encyclopedia for personal growth and productivity.
The world-class performers in this book share all their strategies on how to become healthy, wealthy, and wise. This sounds like too much to cover in a single book, but the titans deliver the value.
“Losers have goals. Winners have systems.”
Mindset by Carol Dweck
If you’re only going to read one book on the list, you may want to choose this one. Why? It covers how to program your mind to excel at anything.
Dweck demonstrates how success in work, sports, and almost every area of human endeavor is influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities.
This book is a must-read for every person looking for personal growth. After reading this book, you’ll be able to integrate a growth mindset into your life, and you’ll see mistakes as valuable learning opportunities.
“No matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.”
Once you get enough of an answer to act on, stop reading, and start doing.
Applied knowledge is power.