When I meet successful people, I ask them what they’re reading. These recommended books on personal development and business led to massive momentum toward my goals.
In 2018, I read voraciously and saw big results. Below are some of my favorite books from the year in the categories of personal development, business development, and pure joy! Check them out.
Books for Personal Development
Awaken the Giant Within
Why read it? It’s time to stop making excuses and start creating the life you want.
Think and Grow Rich!: The Original Version, Restored and Revised™
Why read it? You’re serious about shifting your money mindset.
The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It
Why read it? You struggle with imposter syndrome.
Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself
Why read it? You feel like you are heavily influenced by others emotions, behaviors, and needs.
Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One
Why read it? You want to shift from one career to another.
Getting Real: Ten Truth Skills You Need to Live an Authentic Life
Why read it? You’re interested in open, honest, authentic communication
Books for Business
Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine
Why read it? You want a simple accounting system for your business that makes sure you have sustainable growth, get paid for the hard work you do, and have fun.
The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you
Why read it? You’re launching new products or programs and you need to know how to interview your ideal clients
By Michael E. Gerber – The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (1st Edition) (2.7.1995)
Why read it? You want a business model that’s replicable and can help you make good money without working around the clock
Books for Pleasure
The Name of the Wind
Why read it? You love a good fantasy novel
Lion Hearted: The Life and Death of Cecil & the Future of Africa’s Iconic Cats
Why read it? You’re interested in animal conservation and wildlife in Africa
What about Your Saucepans?
Why read it? You want to know more about Dominican culture.
As a blond foreigner, I get a lot of attention here in the Dominican Republic. I’m always hearing new pick up lines or comments designed to get my attention.
Some of my favorites (from this week):
*Would you like a private Uber driver?
*Oh, how God has blessed you!
*CITTAAAAA (short for “mamacita”… I think)
But here’s the thing: I really hated this attention when I arrived. And I hated it even more after six months. It’s not until recently that I developed a sense of humor about it. After that happened, I got to enjoy everything I LOVE about this country without all the stress of something I can’t control. What freedom!
This reminds me a LOT of starting my business.
When I began, the things I couldn’t control made me so uncomfortable. I had to CHOOSE to show up again and again until, one day, things felt slightly less scary. As time went on, the things that used to send me into a panic became no big deal.
This is the way the comfort zone works. When you commit to creating something new in your life (whether it’s living in a new culture or starting a business), you feel uncomfortable. Beginning is scary and staying with your decision can be even scarier! Your stress levels get higher until slowly — over time — the fear around the change subsides.
There’s a word for this: Acclimation (I talk a lot about this in my forthcoming book “Life Beyond Should”). Stay with what you’ve chosen and your comfort zone will expand.
This applies to SO MANY THINGS:
*Starting a new relationship after a really hard breakup
*Starting a business
*And a lot more
Have courage and stick with your process!
I hope the pickup lines I shared will remind you to keep your sense of humor in the face of your own challenges. Whatever you’re working on creating (or adjusting to), you will hit your stride.
Embrace the Adventure,
Do you think success requires hard work? A friend asked me this last week, and I answered:
“Success requires consistent and dedicated work, but whether it’s hard depends on your mindset.”
I am sick of hard work. Hard work makes me feel exhausted. It makes me dread getting out of bed in the morning — even to work on a business I love! It turns my creativity and inspiration into a chore.
Instead, I focused on how to make my consistent and dedicated work feel amazing for me.
Some of my favorite methods:
1. Breaking up hard work with dance parties
2. Co-working with different people every day of the week
3. Creating partnerships with people I admire to launch cool new workshops and programs
4. Working from places that feel luxurious to me (beautiful hotel lobbies, cafes where I can get my favorite tea, on my personal retreats abroad)
5. Checking in with myself on a quarterly basis to make sure my programs, retreats, and work relationships make my heart sing (if not, I change things up!).
My favorite methods of all involve other entrepreneurs who inspire me. When I consistently connect with those people, I want to work and create new things. The ideas come easily, I enjoy the accountability and support I receive, and I get to celebrate reaching my goals with people I adore. Hard work is nonexistent.
Embrace the Adventure,
P.S. Happy belated Halloween! I can’t resist putting a picture of my Halloween costume below! My sister-in-law made those crowns and the trident.
Let’s talk about magic.
I find magic when I leave behind “should” and choose the opportunities that light me up.
Case and point: My upcoming retreat to India.
When my colleague Cat and I chose the location for our second retreat, this was MAGIC. We wrote out all the places we could possibly go, and chose the spot that filled us with the most wonder and excitement.
Our decision went against many of the standard “retreat-planning rules.” We chose a location far from the United States, created a longer itinerary, etc… because it felt right.
Trusting yourself sometimes means breaking the rules.
Good thing we did! Our decision worked out beautifully! We now have 10 gorgeous people signed up for the trip of a lifetime (two spots are left — is one of them yours?!)!
You know, people talk a lot about RULES. But often, a rule just represents ONE option.
Many people, like Nelson Mandela, left a legacy by breaking the rules. Still more people found success in business because they went against the norm (check out this article by Forbes!).
It’s important to know the rules, yes. It’s also important to trust yourself enough to break them.
Here’s to less “should,” and more magic!
Embrace the Experience,
After four days on Africa’s highest mountain, we were nearly at the summit. Somewhere over 15,000 feet, I collapsed into my sleeping bag for four hours’ rest before the final push to the top of Kilimanjaro. I checked my resting heart rate: 175 bpm–a level I normally achieved only through my hardest workouts.
So how did I–someone with no mountaineering experience–end up here?
While volunteering in Kenya in 2009, I became fed up–fed up with running out of food, fed up with the sand flies that bit me constantly, and fed up with being on an itty bitty island in the Indian Ocean. So, I decided to take a short vacation. And, because I wanted cooler weather and some exercise, I thought I’d climb Kilimanjaro.
I’ll let you process that for a moment.
Yes, this was honestly the extent of my consideration, simply because I knew so little about the mountain.
It wasn’t until my expedition was booked that I borrowed a fellow volunteer’s guidebook to climbing Kili. And, over the next few days, I became progressively more terrified. One of the Seven Summits, Kilimanjaro stood 19,341 feet high and had a summit success rate of just 66%. I had never hiked above 9,000 feet, had asthma, and was terribly out of shape from sitting around for three months eating chapati. Yet, somehow, I was about to take on this mountain.
Indeed, climbing Kilimanjaro was one of the easiest decisions I ever made…but only because I had no idea what I was getting into.
This post is not about my climb, however, so you don’t need the details (although I will say I made it to the top! Hooray!). All you need to know are these two things:
1.) Reaching the summit of that mountain was one of the top three experiences of my life and
2.) Had I understood what I was doing when I signed up, I might not have done it at all.
How does that sit with you? Are you missing out on something that could be the best experience of your life–climbing a mountain, starting a business, or asking out that person you’ve had a crush on for the last five years–out of fear?
Well, I get it, but I won’t affirm your choice to stay in that idle realm of non-possibility. It simply won’t reap the meaningful experience (not to mention potential rewards!) of action.
It’s true that, most of the time, we are more aware of what a huge challenge will entail and fear is a natural result. So how do we overcome our fear in service of becoming more awesome?
Climbing Kilimanjaro taught me that avoiding a desired experience out of fear is not an option. So, I have intentionally developed effective ways to deal with the stress and anxiety that come with big, juicy goals (like quitting an awesome job to pursue my dreams or performing in front of lots of people!).
Here are my techniques:
I outline my plan: Coaching taught me how to clearly define my goals, as well as their related action items. By breaking down my big ambitions into manageable chunks and setting deadlines, I have a clear path to success and can take those scary first steps. Often, our survival mechanisms sabotage our efforts even before we start. One of my most present survival mechanisms is to freeze and do nothing (except perhaps complaining about my current situation)! By outlining my plan, I can shift into movement. I work with my clients to do this, as well and am so inspired by the progress they make once the path is clear.
I turn to my support network: I need friends, family, and my network of fellow visionaries to keep me moving. Most importantly, I work with my life coaches to build and execute my vision. My coaches are the people who most embrace possibility, support me without a subconscious or conscious agenda of their own, get excited about my big ideas, and nurture my dreams in a positive and loving way.
I write out my fears every day: For eight years, I let my fears sabotage my dreams. Now, I am often still present to those fears. Rather than letting them stop me, however, I get them out on paper. Immediately after waking, I write three pages in stream-of-consciousness fashion (as taught in The Artist’s Way). What comes out on that page is often ugly–my concerns, my limiting beliefs, the worst-case scenarios, profanity, my urge to quit. However, by the time I finish writing, I have often found answers to my pressing questions and feel a catharsis that makes moving forward possible.
I clear: Throughout the day, additional concerns sometimes emerge that make it difficult for me to focus on my work or my clients. To stay present (and thus be my most productive and best self!), I use an exercise I learned through my Accomplishment Coaching program. Clearing allows me to define my fears, concerns or complaints, as well as my judgments around these things. Finally, I put them back into context. In this way, I gain perspective on those runaway thoughts that make life feel out of control.
Fear is not a reason to postpone our goals and dreams. It is an opportunity to evaluate our situation, find our limitations and then develop the practices and call on the team we need to push through.
If we are to reach our goals, we must show up despite our fear. Potential lies in the space of uncertainty.
As a result, you may end up running your own business, finding an amazing romantic partner or hiking just a few feet away from Africa’s last glaciers. And, much like the view from the top of Kilimanjaro, the result may be even more beautiful than you anticipated.
In my former life, I was a journalist—a job I loved because it gave me an intimate look into people’s lives.
Over several years, I had the honor to hear and share many incredible stories. I wrote about a man who transitioned from a life of poverty to CEO of a multi-million dollar social enterprise, a woman who researched neurology at Harvard after a childhood in the Middle East where she could not study science, and many others.
The takeaway from these tales was this: Whatever you can imagine can happen—even if you have no idea how.
As I started my dance and coaching business from scratch, I thought a lot about these amazing people and wondered about how my own life would unfold. I also realized I wanted to have a more active role in designing the outcome.
Through a practice I’ll share with you today, I gave myself the opportunity to do just that.
This practice of writing a Future Story was so effective that I continue to use it to this day. Whenever I work with clients on setting goals (or begin working on a new goal of my own), this Future Story is a critical first step.
The Path Becomes Clear: Sometimes we want something so badly that our minds become cloudy or we become overwhelmed when we try to imagine it. By creating a clear vision, we prepare ourselves to move in the right direction (and often reach our goals sooner than we thought!). We can also more easily recognize our successes when we reach them.
It keeps you going when the goin’ gets tough: Anytime you build something new, there are setbacks. When you feel discouraged, reading your beautiful Future Story and feeling fully present to the new life you are creating can raise your morale and restore your motivation.
Your vision allows people to rally behind you: When you have a big, beautiful goal for your life that aligns with who you are, people can sense your enthusiasm and your clarity. In fact, it’s contagious. By knowing where you’re headed, you can also be clear on the kind of support you want. How would you like your parents to support your vision? Your best friend? Your roommates? Your Future Story allows these people to be informed allies.
You have a guide for decision-making: By getting in touch with the new reality, you can identify the choices that will take you closer to your goals: Does accepting that new job offer in Michigan align with your goal to be a globe-trotting entrepreneur? As motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
Are you ready to write your own Future Story? It’s simple!
Step 1: Choose a measurable goal and a hard deadline (preferably a year or more from now). Do you want to land a big promotion? Teach your first class in Paris? Book your first solo vacation to the Bahamas?
Step 2: Write about the day that your goal is complete. Are you sitting in your new office? Unwinding with a glass of pinot noir after your workshop in France? Sitting on a gorgeous Bahama beach drinking a pina colada? Write about everything you are experiencing in the moment—what you see, what you feel, who is with you, what you are present to. Challenge yourself to write a whole page and make this vision feel as real as possible.
Step 3: Hang it up somewhere you can see it (and share it with me if you’re inspired to)!
As I mentioned, this is one of the most important steps I use in a goal-setting process. To quote the famous feminist journalist Gloria Steinem:
“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”
Have questions or want to know more about Future Stories or the goal-setting process? Just let me know!
With lots of love and happy feet,
When did failure become a bad thing? Was it when we entered school and heard about the dreaded “F”? Or when we missed that shot in our first soccer game? For most of us, there was a moment (or several) when we decided failure was something scary, negative and better avoided.
As a coach, I often see people resist failure–and particularly failure related to the things they care about most. When you are committed to something you deeply love–whether it’s a hobby that lights you up, your dream job or taking care of your family–failure stings more deeply and becomes more terrifying.
And, yet, we miss out on so much if we play it safe!
When I started my business, I had a serious wake-up call. If I wanted to grow beyond my current capacities, I would need to put myself out there in a new way. This surely meant I would fail–probably often, and most likely daily. To thrive, I knew I needed to adopt a different perspective. Once I did, failure became less intimidating (and sometimes even a little fun!).
If you’re ready to make big shifts in your life, check out my top recommendations for overcoming resistance to failure:
- Keep it in perspective: Failure is a natural result of action, and action is key to success. If you experienced failure this week, I want to congratulate you! Great work! If you didn’t–why not? What have you been unwilling to try that could be your next step to success? There’s a reason “Fail Faster” became a catchphrase in the Silicon Valley. We learn from each experience.
- Make Failure a Game: In this TED talk, Jane McGonigal speaks about turning goals into games. By creating a culture of play in our challenges, we can eliminate the intensity and seriousness that takes joy out of building something new. I try to fail 10 times each day. I set this goal to encourage myself to try more awesome things, speak to more interesting people, and implement new and potentially rewarding strategies with less resistance. This mindset allows me to own failure, rather than letting failure own me.
- Don’t let failure mean anything about you: Often, failure stings because we take it personally. When you feel this all-too-familiar twinge, ask yourself “What am I making this mean?” The answer may surprise you. In the past, I’ve let failure mean that I was a bad coach, unlovable, or a disappointment to my family. Once I understood these beliefs, I was able to see them for what they were–stories that were simply not true.
- Celebrate your failures (and successes!) with a trusted contact each week: Both failure and success are signs of action–a critical component for creation! Reward yourself for your efforts, and consider what you learned. Ask yourself: What did failure allow me to access this week that I could not have accessed otherwise? I suggest tracking lessons learned so that you can revisit them as you move forward. This is a great way to refine your strategy for success, as well as to track your progress.
If you are failing, you are doing something right. Embrace your experience, learn from each move and have faith in your abilities as a powerful creator. Oh, and don’t forget to smile 🙂
With lots of love and happy feet,
To prepare for this post, I researched reflections, scientific studies and musings about intuition. My assessment? Go with your gut. Here are a few reasons why:
1. People out there take intuition seriously: The U.S. Navy studied it, Myers Briggs incorporates it into its popular personality testing used at top business schools, and Steve Jobs says it’s “more powerful than intellect.” Indeed, there’s a lot of potential value in using your intuition. For instance…
2. Intuition allows you to access the power of your unconscious mind: You’re more observant than you think. Throughout the day, your unconscious mind takes in thousands of bits of data, including sounds, smells, body language, and information on our interactions with the world and people around us. This data is not stored or available to us on a conscious level, however it’s available to our unconscious mind to guide us. Dr. Massimo Pigliucci—Professor of Philosophy at CUNY-City College, co-host of the Rationally Speaking Podcast, and the editor in chief for the online magazine Scientia Salon—put this beautifully in a blog post for Tufts University.
“Rather than being opposed to each other, intuition and rationality are strictly interdependent,” he wrote.
Indeed, some people attribute Isaac Newton’s big breakthrough on the universal law of gravitation to his intuition after he saw an apple fall from a tree. If it worked for Newton, it can work for us, too.
3. Following your intuition is a practice in living in possibility: When we let go of our need to control or to understand the why, we allow more space for creativity, peace, opportunity, and dancing in the moment. If we go with our intuition and commit to make the most of the situations that arise, we learn to be fully present creators. Often, when we commit to achieving something bigger—something beyond our knowing or what we have done before—we are not sure how to create it. The how is not up to us. We must simply listen to intuition, decide, take action and watch how things unfold. Often, opportunities arise that we never could have imagined.