Never Stop Learning: 7 of My Favorite Books to Unlock Your Potential

I strongly believe that in order to truly unlock your potential as a person you need to constantly be learning new things.

There are many ways to do this, including reading lots and lots of books, taking classes, watching documentaries or even TV shows, listening to podcasts… you get the idea.

I’ve been a huge reader ever since I was a kid, and I easily consume 5+ books a month, many of them focused on personal growth, business, psychology, and of course some health and fitness-related ones.

So for something different, I thought it might be fun to give you guys an insight on some of the books that have made the biggest difference in my life in the past 5-10 years. Not all of them will be applicable to you and your personal goals, but there might be one or two that end up peaking your interest and ultimately have a big impact on you, just like they did for me.

Here are 7 of my favorite books to unlock your potential in life, business, and health:

The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level

By Gay Hendricks

Ever since this book was first recommended to me about three years ago, I’ve read it (or listened to it) nearly ten times. It has had a profound impact on me and the way I approach my business, relationships, and life in general.

Basically, Hendricks suggests that each and every one of us have false barriers and beliefs that keep us from reaching our full potential. He helps you identify those barriers and recognize the upper limit problem that almost all of us has, then gives a ton of actionable tips on how to overcome them.

Approach this book with an open mind and you’ll undoubtedly get something useful out of it.

The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness

By Jeff Olson

I only recently came across this book even though it was originally published over a decade ago, but it’s one of those books that really holds up over time.

The premise is this: it’s not the big decisions, changes, or life moments that make the biggest difference in whether or not we are successful in meeting our long-term goals, but the little every day things.

So, for example, it’s not avoiding that delicious cake at your cousin’s wedding that will help you get to your target weight—it’s making the daily choice to eat a healthy, veggie-packed lunch 19 out of 20 days and consistently working out and staying active that will make the biggest difference in whether you meet your goal.

It’s not being born with athletic genes that will lead you to accomplish your fitness goals, whether it’s to compete in the Olympics or do your first pull up, it’s putting in the hard work day in and day out that will get you there, no matter where you were when you first started out.

It’s not just one lucky break that will get you your dream job, it’s the years of putting in the hard work that will eventually prove that you, not anyone else, are the best person for the job.

You get the idea. It’s the daily choices and seemingly little things that we think might not really matter at all that actually give us a slight edge over other people and ultimately lead to greater success.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

By Carol Dweck

I wish I’d read this book when I was a kid—it would have helped shape my life for the better. In fact, I wish my parents had read it, my teachers had read it, and just about everyone I’d ever come in contact with had read it.

Alas, I only came across this book last year (it was first released in 2006), but it made a tremendous impact on me. The basic premise of the book is that people generally approach life with either a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset, she suggests, is one in which you view your talents and abilities as fixed and unchangeable. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is one in which you see yourself as constantly growing, changing, and able to learn, improve, and acquire new skills.

I recognized pretty early on in the book that beginning as a very little kid, I’d always been the classic fixed mindset person. Anything I wasn’t good at I immediately would stop wanting to even try, and I always just assumed I should be naturally talented at things. In recent years, I’ve made a very concerted effort to stop that and to be more open to learning and changing, but this book gave me a better context for the outlook I had growing up on life.

I believe everyone, young or old, will get something worthwhile out of this book.

Power Eating

By Susan Klein

To be honest there aren’t that many health or fitness books that I find that riveting, because so many of them are claiming to be the equivalent of the magic pill—the one thing that will help you finally lose that last 15 pounds, or build the muscular body of your dreams, or eat healthy without knowing it, and on and on.

But I really loved Klein’s approach to food in this book, and find myself revisiting it often and referencing it in many of the different nutrition articles we have on the site.

Klein approaches food in a very similar way to how we do here at 12 Minute Athlete: as fuel. Through many successful stories of athletes she’s worked with in the past, Klein shows just how important food is for athletic performance, and how even when your goal is to lose body fat, the last thing you should do is treat food as the enemy.

If you’re a nutrition and health geek like I am, it’s a super interesting read.

The Art of Mental Training: A Guide to Performance Excellence

By DC Gonzalez

I really enjoyed this book on mental training and achieving peak performance, so if you’re into those things you probably will too. It’s not a long read, but there are lots of great takeaways, and the although the book is written from a sports psychology perspective, the lessons are applicable in nearly any area of life.

Gonzalez offers a lot of hidden gems in this book, and I’ve listened to it several times only to get something new out of it every listen. One of my favorite things about it was Gonzalez’s approach to goal setting, which he broke down into extremely manageable steps that even the most overwhelmed person could probably handle (this post is actually based on his goal setting principles).

Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Entrepreneur

By Derek Sivers

This is a little book that won’t take you very long to read (I listened to it on audiobook and I think it’s only an hour long), but if you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, or have aspirations to be one someday, it’s really worth a read.

In it, Sivers details his own story about accidentally growing a hobby into a million-dollar business (I know, if only we could all make that mistake), and what lessons he learned along the way. It makes you think long and hard about what’s really important to you in life—is it really money, or is it your time, what you’re creating, your level of freedom, or something else entirely?

It’s a thought provoking book and one I revisit every year or so.

The 4-Hour Workweek

By Tim Ferriss

I’m sure just about everyone has heard of this book by now, but I couldn’t not mention it here since it had such a big impact on how I approached my business and lifestyle at a young age.

The book is huge and addresses many, many different subjects, but on the whole it will really make you think about how to set up your lifestyle in the way that you want. It caters to entrepreneurs, but even if you’re happy with your 9-to-5 job you’ll still get something out of it. Definitely recommended for anyone who wants to live an interesting, fulfilling life now rather than waiting until retirement.

What are some of your favorite books? Let us know in the comments!

Photo credit: Gpoo

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13 thoughts on “Never Stop Learning: 7 of My Favorite Books to Unlock Your Potential”

  1. Great post!

    Definitely going to check out the Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

    Some of my favorite books are:

    The way of the Seal and Unbeatable Mind by Mark Divine


    The book of 5 rings by Miyamoto Musashi

  2. Hi Krista a really useful booklist. Thanks!!

    Really enjoy receiving your regular emails & workout ideas, keep moving forward

  3. You are a badass by Jen Sincero. Totally awesome book that was so easy to read, with lots of actions to get you living the life you really want

  4. Thanks for the post and the recommendations Krysta. I like Stephen Dull’s book recommendations also. A book I recently picked up and really enjoyed is “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday.

  5. Great article Krista….
    Lately the great motivational speaker…”Brian Tracy” material (everyone could view him on YouTube) has been keeping me going….Brian has even improved with age so his later material is even much more enthusiastic and fun to view…

    I was only aware of the Jeff Olsen and Tim Ferriss books listed here…
    Tim Ferriss has some good ideas (I did like the 4 Hour Workweek back in 2008 when it came out) but as time went on I noticed in his follow up books he exaggerates everything (we know the “4 hour workweek” is an exaggeration in itself) and in his talks he tries to try to dazzle/bullshit everyone that the ideas/concepts he drops during his talks he developed or innovated himself….(he basically takes old long tried and true concepts, renames them and tries to shamefully bullshit everyone he’s a crazy eccentric genius and they are his unique ideas…)….Tim is not particularly physically fit for a mid thirties guy but he writes a rather weak goofy exaggerated fitness book anyway….

    On another note…The photos with you smiling are always great to look at…..The photos where you stare into the camera not smiling make you look like you’re engaging in a staredown before an MMA match…(those sometimes beautiful girls never look attractive in the ring…)…

    • Haha. So true about Tim Ferris’s exaggerations… still, he has a lot of great ideas and he interviews some amazing people.

      Either way, cool about Brian Tracy, I’ve never heard of him.


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