Inspiring Reads For 2021: Personal Development and Self Improvement

18 January

Posted by Andy Cooper

2020 was a year of significant change, and for me, of great learning. This year I've resolved to share what I learn, starting with some of my favourite books from 2020. If there was ever a year that I needed to discover that what got me to here will not get me there, 2020 was it. After starting the year feeling bullet-proof, I quickly realised that I was not, and I needed a whole new set of tools to get me through. Reading, listening, and applying became my way of experimenting and learning.

These are the books that made the most impact:


1. Perform Under Pressure by Ceri Evans

I started last year reading this book, and I'm glad I did. Ceri works with people and teams (like the All Blacks, Liverpool FC) and other roles that need to thrive under pressure, and he explains in considerable detail the techniques and approaches that he teaches them. I cannot say anything I do has anywhere near the same degree of life-or-death pressure or public scrutiny, but I appreciated the ability to see inside their world.  I especially liked how he unpacked these for specific roles and situations at the end of the book, which helped me develop a toolbox of techniques to apply to my work.  


2. Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg

I've been following BJ Fogg for a while, so when Amazon offered it to me for less than $3 (on Kindle), I knew it was meant to be. This book and the also excellent Atomic Habits by James Clear will transform how you think about self-change and self-improvement. Adopting the 'tiny habits' formula can make a massive difference to how you feel about and adopt the things you want to do. Of the two books, I would start with Tiny Habits first. It is an easy read, and you can apply it straight away. Using this book, I was able to apply a whole bunch of new habits that helped me this year.


3. Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life by Jim Kwik

The title is a bit of a mouthful, but the back story on Jim Kwik and how he transformed his life through learning and retraining his brain is well worth the read. This is an excellent book for helping to rethink your approach to learning and challenging some of the assumptions and self-limiting beliefs that hold you back. Jim unpacks many accelerated learning techniques that can dramatically improve your learning, retention, and speed. I particularly enjoyed the section on speed reading, which has helped improve my reading without sacrificing too much.


4. Becoming AntiFragile: Learning to Thrive through Disruption, Challenge and Change by Dr Paige Williams

I was fortunate to attend a MasterClass with Paige as a reward for being an early reader of this book. I can say that it is a book for the ages and well worth a read. Paige has distilled many practical and proven techniques to help you move from being fragile to AntiFragile. 


If you're curious and want to develop yourself or even dare I say it, improve the world, then make sure you add these books to your must-read list for 2021. I’ll be sharing more inspirational reads in upcoming articles. Make sure you keep an eye out.