Friday, May 11, 2012

Human Potential

As I've said before, investing in yourself is one of the ultimate forms of savings.  There is quite a large body of literature about self-improvement, of which I have read quite a bit.  I'm going to share with you some of my favorites.  Before I do that, however, I would like to turn it on its head.  Improving yourself certainly is in your own self-interest.  As we come off Hubbert's Mesa, we will not be able to rely on machines as much as we have.  Necessarily we will have to rely on ourselves more.  Making sure that everyone is living up to their full potential is the best way to resist collapse.

Now for my short list of the books I've found most helpful in improving myself:

  • Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz

  • This is the second self-help book I ever read, and the first I ever read deliberately. When my family went on a six-week long car trip the summer after sixth grade, I didn't think to bring anything to read. All I could find in our travel trailer was "Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Energy but Were Too Weak to Ask" by Naura Hayden. This book was at the top of her list.

    Back then cybernetics was still a relatively unknown word, and even to this day I'm not sure how many people understand that it is the science of goal-seeking. The basic point of this book is that we all have goal-seeking mechanisms in our psyches, but they are below our conscious awareness and beyond our direct conscious control. This book is about reprogramming ourselves by changing our self-image.

  • Getting Things Done / Making It All Work by David Allen

  • There are a multitude of "time management" books out there. In my opinion these are simply the best. What he describes is not a single system but rather the characteristics of successful systems. Getting Things Done is the simple how-to guide and is more appropriate for people looking for steps to follow. Making It All Work is the follow up that provides a more conceptual framework for people looking to design or tweak their own system.

  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

  • This is the fundamental guide for creating value. Once you get the central theme, it can get a little repetitive, but that's to make sure that you do get the central theme. One of the important things that distinguishes this book from other books on getting rich is that it is completely independent of monetary and political systems. Even if you are just living with one other person on a deserted island, the concepts in this book will serve you well.

  • The NIV Student Bible [Zondervan]

  • I think this is the latest version of the Bible we used when I took a two-year Bible study through CCO. I've looked at a lot of different editions of the Bible. The NIV translation is the one I've found easiest to read. In addition, I found the commentaries in the Student Bible were the most accessible to me when I was just starting out.
I've found these to be the most useful books on developing human potential, and I hope you find them useful as well on the Long Ascent.

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