top of page
  • Writer's pictureDr Maike Neuhaus

21 Essential Books For Your Self-Leadership Journey

Part 1: 7 Books for a Self-Knowledge Deep-Dive

Sometimes I get a little sad when I realise I will never be able to read allllll the books out there that I want to - there just aren’t enough hours in the day! There are so many valuable resources available to access on your self-leadership journey, but here are just a few that have inspired me, and that I hope can help you too.

Because self-leadership can be divided into three components - self-knowledge, self-goal setting and self-regulation, we will start with self-knowledge and books that focus on this area, although all sections overlap and intersect - because we are, after all, messy humans! Be sure to check back on the blog for recommendations in the following areas, too.

21 Essential Books For Your Self-Leadership Journey
21 Essential Books For Your Self-Leadership Journey

Self-Knowledge: 7 Books to Motivate, Inspire and Enhance your Self-Awareness

1. Daring Greatly – Brené Brown

Let’s be honest, I would pretty much recommend anything Brené has written. Her 10+ years of research into vulnerability has transformed the way we look at it - from, as a culture, viewing it as a weakness, to viewing it as a strength - and one that takes true courage to embody. A key quote she refers to in her book:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly." Theodore Roosevelt

Brené writes: "When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives." Purpose and meaning...sounds like some of the foundations of self-leadership to me ;) Brene calls for all of us to have the courage to ‘be seen’, and embrace the uncertainty to step into the arena in our everyday lives, knowing true vulnerability can also bring with it love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation and creativity.

Available on Amazon.

2. Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor Frankl

A powerful book on acknowledging that while we may not always have control over our circumstances, we can choose our attitude and how we respond. Viktor Frankl was born in Vienna and was a prominent psychiatrist before entering the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz.

This background gave him a unique perspective on how people coped and responded to their conditions, noticing those who comforted others or gave away their last piece of bread survived the longest. Inner decisions, not just external circumstances alone, determined what type of person the camp prisoner became.

The belief in one’s deepest desire to search for meaning and purpose is Viktor Frankl’s philosophy, and that finding significance in living is a way to transcend the inevitable suffering - Viktor and his sister were the only survivors of the concentration camps out of their entire family - losing their mother, father, brother and Viktor’s wife.

This is a timeless book, one that encourages deep reflection on our own meaning and purpose in life.

Available on Amazon.

3. Flourish - Dr. Martin Seligman

Dr. Seligman is a psychologist and internationally bestselling author of Authentic Happiness (also another great read). His work has been ground breaking in the area of positive psychology, and this book offers new theories on what helps people to get the most out of life with a focus on individual satisfaction and global purpose - leading them to truly Flourish.

A mix of stories and ideas, this book provides inspiration and motivation for how we can all bring wellbeing into our lives.

Available on Amazon.

4. On Becoming a Person – Carl R. Rodgers

This book is a summary of Dr. Rodgers’ experience as a psychologist - and while that may sound dry to some, and you may wonder if it is just for people working in the field of counselling or similar - I would disagree.

Dr. Rodgers challenges many of the traditional psychology concepts and encourages alternative viewpoints, and his book is for anyone interested in the transformation of self. He dives into exploring the path to personal growth, and encourages self-understanding of our own limitations as well as potential - focusing on the psychology of growth and potential in each person - which can make us more flexible and successful in relationships, creativity, and less open to suggestion and control by others.

“The trick is to realize that you have never become, but you are always becoming; and that, like every other process, becoming is messy, filled with contradictory feelings and beliefs that must be freely analyzed through and not forcefully controlled by someone on the outside.”--Carl Rodgers

Available on Amazon.

5. Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization – Scott Barry Kaufman

“A bold reimagining of Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs--and new insights for realizing your full potential and living your most creative, fulfilled, and connected life.”


Kaufman integrates Maslow’s theories with his own ideas and research on attachment, connection, purpose and the building blocks for a life well-lived. His new hierarchy of needs helps to provide a ‘roadmap’ for finding true happiness and contentment through a focus on becoming the best version of ourselves - what he coins ‘self-actualisation’.

Previously thought to be an individual pursuit, Masow reimagines self-actualisation to involve a merging between the self and the world - at our highest level of human potential we show a deep integration of self-development and self-sacrifice to connect with humanity. Transcend focuses on how our greatest level of human potential connects us to our highest creative self, but also to one another.

Available on Amazon.

6. Do What You Are – Barbara Barron & Kelly Tieger

For those of you looking to start careers, change careers or evaluate your current career - this book is for you. So much has changed in the workplace - not just because of global pandemics, and the ongoing development of new technology, but the change of populations, generations and global economy.

We can work in so many different ways - online, hybrid, within physical and ‘virtual’ teams or by ourselves. With so many options, how can we choose a path that best suits our strengths and values?

Based on personality type (Myers-Briggs), this book identifies corresponding career options that are popular with those ‘types’ - highlighting work-related strengths and weaknesses. There are case studies and workbooks-type exercises to reflect on that can help to you adapt, shift or change completely into a role that takes into account your individual preferences and strengths.

Available on Amazon.

7. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear - Elizabeth Gilbert

Well known for her memoir-turned-movie ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, Elizabeth Gilbert is a generous and empathic writer who, with this book, seems like she is almost looking into your mind and heart and listing out your fears and ‘reasons why’ not to act on your dreams.

“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you—is a fine art, in and of itself.”

- Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic encourages you to embrace curiosity, face fear, and look within yourself for motivation and inspiration for a life ‘well-lived’.

Available on Amazon.

As I said - this is by no means the full list of ALL POSSIBLE resources out there, but hopefully they help to provide you with a starting point to jump off into the beautiful adventure ahead. If you have a book that you are drawn to, recommend or find inspiring in the area of self-knowledge, then be sure to let me know in our community on Facebook and Instagram - we love to learn and grow together.

Maike x

PS: If you are interested in connecting with like-minded individuals on their own self-leadership journey, and be part of a community of people looking to thrive and embrace their best selves, then come and join our socials – we’d love to have you. Don’t forget to sign up to my monthly newsletter, and get free access to our most recent free self-leadership resource.

PPS: If you are seeking more guidance on how to activate and harness your own self-leadership (we have all been there, trust me!) to create a life you love, join the waitlist to get access to our next FRESH START group – due to open in January 2022 – to access comprehensive evidence-based information, coaching and a wonderfully supportive community online.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page