Great Books on Personal Ambition

There is no shortage of books out there with advice on how to find success and fulfillment in life. Because of all the research being done in a number of areas – psychology, economics, sociology, neuroscience, biology – we are learning a lot about ourselves and how to make the most of our talents. Here are a few books on personal ambition incorporating some of that research.

4 Great Books To Add To Your Must-Read List

1. Grit by Angela Duckworth

In this book, Duckworth emphasizes the importance of endurance and perseverance in finding our life’s calling. Many people think that simply having a passion or enthusiasm for something is enough. But, Duckworth says, passion is common, perseverance is not. Having passion is important, but it is just the beginning, the prologue to the rest of our careers, their growth and development.

When our enthusiasm flags, we lose interest – all too easily, not realizing that to really reach fulfillment, we need to have grit and resilience. In fact, Duckworth says, grit and passion are more important to academic achievement than intelligence.

2. Essentialism by Greg McKeown

This book is all about focusing on what is truly important. It is about establishing priorities and weeding out all of the distractions. When we make big decisions, we need to apply the most specific, relevant criteria, similar to when conducting an online search, McKeown says.

When looking at your career, you need to focus on questions like what you are passionate about, what your talents are, and how you can meet a significant need.

3. The Shallows by Nicholas Carr

This is a book about the Internet and how it affects our cognitive functions, reducing our ability to focus, to think on a deeper level, and to be creative. It also affects decision making. As we jump from website to website, we simply become passive receptacles of information, rather than active users of it.

4. Deep Work by Cal Newport

This is another book about focus, about developing specialized skills and deep thinking, all necessary in today’s economy. Newport makes the case that productivity is not about being busy but about focus, concentrating on what is important for an extended period of time.

In the book he gives tips on how to do this, ways of cutting out the distractions so that you can do deep thinking – cutting out the social media, doing work by batching, and handling boredom.

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