Best Motivational Books of 2017 – Top 3

Best Motivational Books

These 3 books are the best motivational books I have read in 2017. They are not just about motivating me to get out there and do something but also what is behind my motivation and how I can keep going with difficult tasks. As an extra, I have after each mini-review a section on how, for free, you can see if you might like the book or not. Also clicking on the book cover will take you to Amazon where you can read further reviews.

Emotional Agility by Susan David – Best Motivational Books

This book introduced me to a new concept of “Emotional Agility” and how people with a high level of Emotional Agility are able to deal stresses and setbacks in a more effective way than others would. What I like about this book is it gives practical advice that is backed by scientific research. The book talks about how to gain control over your emotions and how to unhook yourself from unhelpful patterns in your thoughts and behaviours.

How can I see if I like it for free?

If you visit her website,, there is currently an offer to receive a free chapter of the book if you sign up for her newsletter. There is also an free quiz on Emotional Agility that you can complete that will give you a free report on how to become more Emotionally Agile.

Best Motivational Books - Emotional Agility - Susan David

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday – Best Motivational Books

As the title suggests this book discusses the ego and how it can be a powerful opponent to achievement. Ryan uses a wide range of examples from many different areas such as literature, philosophy and history to show you how dangerous your ego can be. It is a great insight into humility and how in today’s world that can easily be forgotten. Again I like how practical the book is and helps you get a great insight into not only yourself but others as well.

How can I see if I like it for free?

You can hear Ryan read a chapter from this book on the Tim Ferriss podcast. The chapter is called “What’s Important to You?” and it is episode 179. As you may have read on here, I am a big fan of Tim Ferriss and podcasts! Also Ryan has appeared on an earlier episode, episode 4, if you want to listen to some more.

Best Motivational Books - Ego is the Enemy - Ryan Holiday

Mindset by Carol Dweck – Best Motivational Books

This book was originally published in 2006, the updated edition that I have read was published in 2017. It is a really fascinating book that looks at our mindset, fixed or growth. This mindset can make a big difference to our achievements. It is not just our talent and abilities but how we look at them and believe we attained them. It made me think about how I give praise. As Carol discusses how praising ability and intelligence may actually jeopardise success. A really good book that made me look at motivation in a completely different way. It is not just focussed on managing other people but also yourself and your children.

How can I see if I like it for free?

Carol has given a TED talk on “The power of believing that you can improve“. Have a watch and see if you like the ideas and style that Carol is using. This will give you a good insight if you will like the book or not.

Best Motivational Books - Mindset - Carol DweckWhat are your Best Motivational Books?

These are my Best Motivational Books but what do you think? Are there other books that you think are better than these? Please let me know in the comments.

What Motivates Us

One of my favourite videos on YouTube based on a book that I really love, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink.

What I love about the video is that it gives you all the main points from the book in just over ten minutes. It does in a way that is extremely engaging. It helps that the subject matter is very compelling. Also that the research does not always agree with what you would automatically think. I really like the animation style for this, it grabs your attention and keeps it there. It makes me think about how communication style is so important about getting your message across. The video has almost 16 million views on YouTube, I am not sure how many books Daniel Pink has sold but I am sure it is less than 16 million! If you want to get your message out to as many people as possible you need to think about your audience and see what they would best respond. It might not be the typical approaches like a book. To make a difference you might have to think least a little.

What Motivates Us vs What Motivates You

What I also enjoy from the book/video is makes you really think about motivation and especially your own motivation. It makes you wonder how much of it is an internal to your own personal experiences and heritage. Also how much is down to external factors that you may feel you have little or no control over.

It is this sort of book that made me come with my personal motto, Think Differently…at least a little. The research is out there for nearly all the issues you may come up against in life, you just need to look for it. The information is there in many different formats, it could be a book, a video, a podcast or an app. I find there is nothing better than having one of my beliefs challenged and making me think about life in a different way. Have a watch of the video or have a read of the book and let me know what you think.

What Motivates Us - Drive The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us - Daniel Pink

What Makes You You

What makes you you? It is your unique experience during your life but not only that, it is your heritage, your family. It is not only about what you have done, it is about where you have come from. It is the books you have read, the people you have met, the opportunities that you have taken and the ones you haven’t.

All of this together is what makes you you. So do you know who you are? I didn’t and still don’t but I know a bit more than I did. Something I have done recently made me a lot more interested in this.

DNA Testing

23andMe is a DNA testing service, they send you a kit and they need a saliva sample which then you send off. You get an online report back that tells you if you are at risk of certain diseases and other conditions. While I found this interesting, what I found fascinating was how it could tell what your ancestry is.

The website gives you your Ancestry Composition and a map that shows you where you have come from. It also gives you an Ancestry Timeline that allows you to see how far back in time this ancestry comes from. It really makes you think how small the chances that you would be born are and how connected you are to people across the world.

I enjoyed the “Your DNA Family” section which shows you people who share some identical segments of DNA with you. It shows how part of you is shared between people in different countries. Also how these people have a shared ancestry with you.

So have a look and see if you want to learn a bit more about where you have come from. Also the connections you have with the people who live near you and also with other people across the world.

What makes you you

Tim Ferriss and Freakonomics

Headphones - Tim Ferriss and Freakonomics

As mentioned previously, I am big fan of thinking differently…at least a little and how I find podcasts to be a great way of doing this. Two of my favourite podcasts are The Tim Ferriss Podcast and Freakonomics. Tim Ferriss and Freakonomics have not only created my favourite two podcasts, they have also written my two favourite books.

Tim Ferriss and Freakonomics - The 4-Hour Work Week - Tim FerrissTim Ferriss and Freakonomics - Think like a Freak - Freakonomics

Tim Ferriss and Freakonomics remixed

So what could be better than mixing them together? Well that’s what has happened a few times. “How to Be Tim Ferriss” is a Freakonomics episode with Stephen Dubner,  one half of the Freakonomics duo, interviewing Tim Ferriss as part of their Self-Improvement Month. Stephen talks about how he knows Tim as the “4-hour-blank” guy which is based on the books Tim has written, The 4-Hour Work Week, The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef. They talk about Tim’s background in Tech Investing and how the title “The 4-Hour Work Week” was chosen. They also discuss lucid dreaming for those interested in this for themselves.

Stephen Dubner has been on The Tim Ferriss Podcast twice, the first time was one of the very early episodes, episode 7.  This is just after the release of Think Like a Freak. It is interesting as the feel of the show has changed a lot from these early episodes.  They again cover some very interesting topics such as Religion and how Stephen ended up choosing his own.  Also Stephen’s feeling on collaboration, mentoring and children/family.

The second appearance by Stephen on The Tim Ferriss Podcast was more recent at the end of 2016.  I think this is much lighter interview than than the first covering topics like “Why cats wiggle their butts before they pounce” and “If he thinks he could take Malcolm Gladwell in a fist fight”. Slight aside, Malcolm Gladwell is the writer of another of my favourite books, Outliers. You might have heard of the book. It discusses the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice required to become world-class at something. Anyway, the podcast does cover some more serious topics as well such as “How to grow a podcast” and “How virtual reality might affect education”.

They are all really enjoyable episodes even though they feel a bit weird. As you are used to either Tim or Stephen asking the questions not being asked them. Have a listen and see what you think.

Books You Have to Read - Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell

Improve Yesterday to Make a Better Tomorrow

“Improve yesterday to make a better tomorrow” is a tactic that I have been using recently where I take a few minutes to think back on what went well and not so well during the previous day.  From this look back, I then write down on the pad I always have with me, 3 to 5 of the most major points that I would like to change. This can be both positive and negative e.g. doing more of something or less of something.


  1. Find somewhere you can have some peace and quiet, I find the best time to do this is after I have done some meditation.
  2. I then close my eyes and re-live the previous day
  3. Do not write anything down until you have finished looking back at the day
  4. You can then write down 3 to 5 concise statements on what you could improve or do more of (I find any less than 3 it doesn’t work as well and more than 5 is too much to focus on)
  5. Once you have written the statements, the next step is to re-live the day in your mind but this time imagine the day as if you had made the changes you have written down

Improve yesterday to make a better tomorrow

It is that simple, what I like to do is write a date on the piece of paper and then look back at it, both a week and a month later and see if I anyone of those changes that I found have stuck. I had previously tried doing this without the re-visualization part and found that hardly any of the changes ever stuck. With the visualization, I find remembering and actioning the statements a lot easier and much more successful. Give it a go and let me know if it works for you.

Improve Yesterday for a Better Tomorrow


How do you come up with good ideas? Well everyone is different but I always find there is only one way to get started and that is…Space.

Not necessarily physical space but walking or sitting in coffee shops with a bit of hustle and bustle can be helpful. You need to give yourself a fighting chance for your brain to be able to think, play and dream. To do this, you are going to have to make a few small changes to find the Space in your life, these aren’t permanent, just a temporary state to allow you to find those ideas.


  1. No TV – it can be too easy to be sucked into a binge!
  2. Always have something with you to note down any ideas you might have (Day or Night!)
  3. Meditate
  4. Don’t be afraid to have stupid ideas and write them down
  5. Listen to a podcast on subject you know nothing about
  6. Do something you don’t want to do e.g. cut down that tree that you have been putting off for ever

You don’t have to do all of them. I always find a mixture of these gives me the extra push I need to start thinking. Never waste brain power on trying to work out what is possible or feasible. Just use the Space to think of ideas and write them down. No pressure to make them good, no pressure to see if they will make money or not, just whatever ideas I can think of, I write them down.

Try it and see what you can think of, I bet you will surprise yourself with the sheer number, breadth and depth of ideas that you come up with in the Space that you have created.



There is one tactic and one tool I have been using to try and get on top of this and make myself more productive.

Do something!

The first is “Do Something!” and I mean anything related to the task that you are meant to be doing. Without doubt, I find that taking that first step is always the hardest but once I start I always wonder what I was waiting for.  I have been using this not only for procrastination but for other changes I want to make in my life.  It always reminds of a quote that “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”.

Pomodoro technique

This is a great tool for keeping yourself fresh and motivated to get a task completed. It is a simple structure of alternating working with break times and all you need is a timer. It doesn’t need to look like a tomato!

Lifehacker has a great 101 of how it works. There is a book but it is a hard to find in the UK so I would stick with the 101 from Lifehacker.  Also there is a great web tool that does all the timing for you, Pomodoro Timer. Give it a go and let me know if it works for you.


Podcasts and Thinking Differently…

As mentioned in my previous post, Podcasts are a great way to access free content from some of the world’s experts in various fields.


My favourite app for listening to Podcasts is Pocket Casts (Android / iPhone), it does cost a small amount of money but I have found it gives me the best user experience and it has a great Discover section so I can see what other Podcasts are available that I might enjoy.

Podcasts and “Think Differently…at least a little”

I find that Podcasts help me follow a personal motto that I have which is “Think Differently…at least a little” which means don’t throw away all the knowledge and experience that you have when approaching difficult problems or facing new opportunities but always try and think a bit differently than most people would. Or more simply try and nudge yourself away from thinking the same as everyone else.

As discussed previously, the Tim Ferriss podcast is one of these but another one of these is the Freakonomics podcast.


Two people, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, are behind the books that lead to the Podcast. Their first book, Freakonomics, started it off where they use Economics in a different way than most people would expect. They use it to look at crack dealers, cheating teachers and bizarre baby names. They then published SuperFreakonomics which was pretty much a direct sequel using Economics to find the hidden side of everything.

Podcasts - Freakonomics

The most recent book, Think Like a Freak, is the one that I have found the most useful in my quest to “Think Differently…at least a little”. As it is more of a ‘how-to’ guide of how to think differently and challenge conventional wisdom. One of the main points I took from the book was to “Think like a child” and how this allows you to come up with better ideas and questions.

Podcasts - Think Like a Freak

Again you don’t need to spend money and buy the books straight away, have a listen to the free podcasts see if you like what you hear and go from there.


Mentors for Introverts and Others

From yesterday’s post, how many of you thought of 5 successful people you could speak to? I am guessing a few of you. How many actually spoke to someone or would actually think about speaking to possible mentors? My guess, it would be even fewer. So what should you do?

Well luckily there are a variety of people that have done this work for you, the main person I wanted to mention is Tim Ferriss. 

He has written a variety of books, such as The 4-Hour Work Week and his most recent is Tools of Titans which is sub-titled The Tactics, Routines and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers. But what has this got to do with Mentors?

Mentors - The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich

Well while you don’t get the two-way conversation and tailored advice that you would from a real mentor. You do get to hear the tactics from the best in the world in their fields and for people who can’t or don’t want to speak to real people, they can get great advice that they could not otherwise access.


What is even better is that you can get this advice without even paying a penny by listening to his free podcasts. He has spoken to an amazing amount of people and deconstructed them to get their tactics, tools and routines that you can integrate into your own life, all from a variety of different fields such as Tech, Athletics, Business and many others.


As mentioned in a previous post, meditation is one of the routines that he pulls out from a large percentage of the people he speaks to, have a look back at this post to see how I recommend starting off.



Do you need one? No. Does it make things easier? Yes. Mentors can help you in many different ways, they can allow you to access their networks, give you perspective and just be a listening ear. I have a small exercise that I want you to try. Think of the 5 most successful people that you know, judging successfulness however you want to, and ask them one question ‘if you were starting again from scratch, what would you do?’. No other explanation of the question, which is intentionally a little vague and see what responses you get.