Top 5 Personal Development Books to Enhance Your Life and Career

Top 5 Personal Development Books to Enhance Your Life and Career | Career | Emeritus

“The only journey is the journey within.” This quote by Maria Rilke emphasizes that introspection, inner development, and being your true self are the keys to success in life. In fact, personal development holds the most significance in life. However, this is not an easy journey to undertake. People need guidance, support, and mentorship to find their true selves and embark on the road of transforming their lives. Books are undoubtedly one of the best resources to help guide people down this path. This blog discusses five personal development books you should read for personal growth.

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1. “The Non-Obvious Guide to Emotional Intelligence” by Kerry Goyette

Research suggests that emotional intelligence is one of the top core competencies for leaders. Not only does it help in organizational growth, but it also enables professionals to move up the corporate ladder. Hence, emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in personal development.

“The Non-Obvious Guide to Emotional Intelligence by Aperio founder and CEO Kerry Goyotte is a wonderful guide for leaders who feel stuck in the corporate world. It delves into how leaders can learn and leverage emotional intelligence to manage stress and thrive in competitive environments. Readers can learn emotional intelligence in depth as the book talks about neuroscience and how the human brain functions.

This book teaches essential leadership skills like strategic decision-making, change management, identifying and removing obstacles to growth, and finding the root cause of issues and resolving them. Moreover, the author also explains how leaders can use emotional intelligence tactics to overcome chaos, navigate unpredictability, and prevent fight-or-flight responses. 

What makes it one of the best personal development books are the case studies, actionable items, and self-reflective questions at the end of each chapter. Thus, the book enhances the decision-making ability of the readers. You can listen to the book’s summary here.

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2. “The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company” by Robert Iger and Joel Lovell

This is one of the best personal development books for leaders facing intense pressure. One of the authors, Robert Kiger, former CEO of Walt Disney, delves into his personal and professional journey, explaining how he joined the company during turbulent times and focused on its growth. Kiger emphasizes three key principles: creating the best quality content, embracing technology instead of fighting it, and creating a bigger vision.

“The Ride of a Lifetime” comprises Kiger’s anecdotes through which readers gain both personal and professional development lessons. Some of the key lessons that you can learn from this book are:

  • Motivation and failure come together. You can’t be afraid of failure if you want motivation
  • You can’t fake authority and leadership
  • People don’t want to follow a pessimist; optimism is an essential quality for a leader
  • Focus on bigger possibilities in business instead of playing safe 
  • Courage, decisiveness, focus, optimism, fairness, empathy, and thoughtfulness are the fundamental principles of true leadership

Furthermore, the book highlights the importance of being self-aware for personal development. Kiger also explains the importance of remembering your true self. You can listen to the book’s summary here.

3. “The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything” by Stephen MR Covey

Another must-read in the personal development books list, “The Speed of Trust” explains that trust is the fundamental element for all successful transactions and interpersonal relationships. The author explains the following five waves of trust:

  • Self-trust, which resembles credibility
  • Relationship trust, which is based on good behavior
  • Organizational trust between managers and employees that involves aligning with the organization’s goals
  • Market trust focuses on the reputation of a business or brand
  • Societal trust, which is based on the contribution

Moreover, the book explains that trust is essential to improve personal and organizational performance and build strong relationships. It provides relevant questions for the readers to reflect on their actions and boost credibility.

The book delivers a strong moral message and encourages readers to have strong personal and professional ethics. It also mentions 13 elements essential to building and reciprocating trust, including talking straight, showing loyalty, confronting reality, and practicing accountability. You can listen to the book’s summary here.

4. “The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance” by Timothy Gallwey 

Delivering master performance in tennis is a mental skill. It does not depend solely on physical technique. It requires mental focus and strong self-belief. Similarly, life is an inner battle. The book explains how mental focus and concentration can help you win any battle. The “Inner Game of Tennis” describes tennis as primarily an inner battle between the conscious and unconscious minds of the players. It explains that athletes must strive to maintain a balance between the two minds. Therefore, to deliver the best performance and grow, players need to overcome self-doubt.

The author describes two parts of every game—the inner game and the outer game. Mastering the inner game is more important. Here is how people can become mentally strong:

  • Get a clear picture of your desired outcome
  • Trust your subconscious mind and embrace both success and failures
  • Focus on what is happening rather on how good or bad something is happening

Simply put, psychological and emotional state is crucial for success. You can listen to the book’s summary here.

ALSO READ: What is Career Pathing? Why is it Important for You and Your Company?

5. “Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance” by Atul Gawande

This is another book that tops the list of personal development books. It essentially serves as a guide on how to transform your life and make it more meaningful. The author is a surgeon who delves deep into how doctors struggle to maintain a balance between the best intentions and the best performance. He further explains how this struggle is a universal phenomenon. Therefore, the book explains how people can become better with three attributes:


It involves paying attention to every minute detail.

Doing Right

This requires having integrity and moral values that encourage an individual to do the right thing.


This refers to having the courage to embrace new things and overcome challenges.

You can listen to the book’s summary here.

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Personal development is critical to professional growth in the modern corporate era. Technological advancements and increased competition have made it necessary for professionals to constantly upskill and stay updated with the trends while focusing on soft skills like integrity, emotional intelligence, communication, and motivation. Emeritus’ online career courses can help you acquire relevant technical and soft skills for personal and professional development. Explore these online courses today to enhance your career.

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About the Author

Content Writer, Emeritus Blog
Sneha is a content marketing professional with over four years of experience in helping brands achieve their marketing goals. She crafts research-based, engaging content, making sure to showcase a bit of her creative side in every piece she writes. Sneha spends most of her time writing, reading, or drinking coffee. You will often find her practicing headstands or inversions to clear her mind.
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