The best personal development books to master our intentions

Who am I?

I have a passion for helping people realize being better through sharing my thoughts and experiences to guide them on their path. My curiosity of understanding “why people do what they do?” started when I was 13. The search for this questions evolving answer led me on an educational, career, and personal journey that authored a unique perspective to move people forward. Working with people for over 25 years through clinical therapy, personal coaching, and now through my company Rhodes Smith Consulting, I see patterns in the struggle to transform. Books offer me new perspectives or reinforce old ones in expanding my knowledge and helping people master their own intentions. Enjoy!

I wrote...

Intention: Building Capabilities to Transform Your Story

By Ian D. Brooks,

Book cover of Intention: Building Capabilities to Transform Your Story

What is my book about?

Have you ever wanted to expand who you are and move past the ‘box’ you’re in, but don’t know how? Intention provides steps to transform personal stories by focusing on your capabilities to move forward. It integrates research, experience, and fictional imagery to illuminate a path for transformation in a digestible way.

Intention contains five parts, each offering questions that elicit inner dialogue for application. On your way to solving a specific concern now, you’ll build capabilities to address any future change. Intention shows that successful transformations – from leaders influencing teams, losing weight, to just being better – start with you. In the end, you are challenged to use the book as a guide to master your intentions and create new possibilities for your story.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Prince

By Niccolò Machiavelli, Tim Parks (translator),

Book cover of The Prince

Why this book?

One of our greatest abilities is to evolve, which is based on our need for survival. Historical references provide a great measure of this experience for our personal clarity. Written in 1532, Niccolò Machiavelli penned The Prince as a leadership guide for Lorenzo the Magnificent and any new princes and royals. Irrespective of the title, the book's theme is of accepting that one’s aims – such as glory and survival in this case – can justify the use of any means to achieve those ends. When we are transforming our stories, we often focus solely on the outcome irrespective of impact. Though written for 16th-century society, this book provides a perspective to consider when building the foundations of change – in the pursuit of buildings capabilities – based on want, indulgence, and survival.

The Art of Quiet Influence: Timeless Wisdom for Leading Without Authority

By Jocelyn Davis,

Book cover of The Art of Quiet Influence: Timeless Wisdom for Leading Without Authority

Why this book?

When we’re transforming our stories, we’re not only asking ourselves to do something different, but we’re also asking the people, places, and things around us to evolve as well. The Art of Quiet Influence fosters awareness of self by bringing in Western and Eastern philosophical wisdom – from Confucius to Rumi to Buddha to Gandhi – to shed light on influencing best practices. While the title implies an influence of others, it emphasizes knowing yourself through your mind, body, and soul prior to seeking changes for anyone else. The book offers a focused presence where output is more important than outcomes and the use of words outweighs yelling and domination. Such inner peace and calmness allow us to be authentic in our abilities to transform.

Connecting with Self and Others

By Sherod Miller, Daniel Wackman, Elam Nunnally, Phyllis Miller

Book cover of Connecting with Self and Others

Why this book?

Do you know what mental stories you bring to the table that influence a situation with others? Are you arguing to win or to collaboratively solve? Connecting: With Self and Others is a textbook that teaches readers about themselves and how to interact with others. The awareness creates the space and tips for readers to take stock in who they are and how to communicate effectively. The narratives of transformation offer opportunities to experience the world in new contexts. This can be a challenge if we are not conscious of who we are and how to best navigate the tug and pull of the environment to keep us where we are. This book helps create awareness in connecting with ourselves and the environment in an authentic way that is critical in transforming.

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know

By Malcolm Gladwell,

Book cover of Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know

Why this book?

How well do we know someone? Malcom Gladwell asks readers to explore biases in a way that begins to question the personal interactions we have each day. Using examples based on prejudice, assumption, fear, false trust, and preconceived notion, the book exposes the nature of human connection and an internal battle we face when interacting with or judging others. Our unconscious actions are built from survival instinct and previous experiences that become exposed when we meet someone new or cannot reconcile someone’s actions with whom we thought they were. This inability to understand others impacts how we navigate our lives and decern perceived threats that often result in wrong actions being taken. This book begs us to look deeper into the assumptions we carry within ourselves when Talking to Strangers.

Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation

By Edward L. Deci, Richard Flaste,

Book cover of Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation

Why this book?

Understanding ourselves starts with understanding our motivations and shifting our thoughts toward internal empowerment. Why We Do What We Do offers an exploration into acting with autonomy and understanding how to manage ourselves consciously. Our internal empowerment is achieved through reframing success where the focus is placed on creating space for outcomes, balancing motivation through experience, and managing the pressures of the external environment. I am a firm believer that you can build a plan, but your path is your path. Allowance for the personal freedom to explore your path given autonomy and competence is core to motivation. This book elicits a perspective toward making changes in a way that’s true to your choices and managing the noise that surrounds you. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in life satisfaction, the human brain, and motivation?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about life satisfaction, the human brain, and motivation.

Life Satisfaction Explore 120 books about life satisfaction
The Human Brain Explore 7 books about the human brain
Motivation Explore 19 books about motivation

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Inclusify, Yes, Chef, and Family Lexicon if you like this list.