A short Review of the 9 Personality Development Books I’ve read in 2009

200912251014.jpg Reading…it’s one of the the greatest, most pleasurable, highly blissful indulgences that this ephemeral existence has to offer. Other than Coffee (and Chocolate ofcourse). Sometime back I gave myself a schedule to spend an hour reading everyday. About the same time I began tracking which books I was reading at the All Consuming website and now I parallely do it at Good Reads website as well. I managed to write a couple of reviews of a few books at the Arif & Ali blog. I’ve hardly done justice to some of the fantastic material that I ‘ve covered. I’ve scanned through my list and hello, I’ve almost crossed 50 books since I’ve started tracking them. I’ve not read them all completely. But certainly enough to have a fair idea of what the book contains and whether would it be worth my while to complete it or not. (On that note, one of the best standards I have set for myself is giving myself permission to skip sections of a book or even leaving it incomplete). As I sit here approaching the cusp of 2009, I’ll be posting a series of posts giving a short review of the books I’ve covered in the last year or so. The first in the series of posts covers the Personality Development books I’ve read.

Personality Deveopment:

Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations, Influencer
How do you appraise a fellow employee on his poor work performance effectively? Or how do you tell your boss that he’s not being reasonable in his deadlines that he’s giving? In a personal setting how do you tell a colleague the he’s got Body Odour and Personal Hygiene issues? Crucial Conversations teaches how to step up to such conversations that run high on emotions, have high stakes and conflicting opinions. Crucial Confrontations, teaches you to address failed commitments and Influencer promises you the ability to influence anybody to do anything 99% of the time.

Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations were excellent reads. Influencer fell short of my expectations but nonetheless I am glad I covered it. If you feel you could brush up on your conversational skills, go ahead and give these books a try.

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway
With over 2 million copies sold, this book has it’s place reserved in the classics shelf. Who isn’t afraid? If you say you’re not, then buddy you’re not trying hard enough to stretch out of your comfort zones. I loved certain sections of the book and specially the first chapter which provided the insight that you are always afraid for one and ONLY one reason…ie You’ll not be able to handle it. ie You feel you’ll not be able to handle the situation/scenario that your are scared of . Or in other words you’ll not be in control. Think about it. It’s so true. Be it fear of public speaking or fear to confront an individual on something sensitive, if you’re scared it’s because you’ll feel that you may no longer will be in control of the situation. The best part is, simple Awareness of this is half the battle won. So now that you know why you’re scared, what can you do about it? Absolutely nothing. That’s the whole point, you’ve got to “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway”. However that said, there are many tips and tricks to help you deal with your fears on your way to growth.

When I say No I feel Guilty
The best assertiveness training book I’ve come across. Written sometime in the 70’s this book still rings true today. The only high-irritant that I have with this book is that it takes the theory that you are the ultimate judge of what’s right and what’s wrong way too far. So far that it towards the end it concludes that even nudist camps are okay, as long as you’re okay about it. Having that said, it does having amazing 1, 2, 3 step by step techniques to help you stand up to situations that you would otherwise slink away from. Check out the Bill of Assertive Rights that the book begins with:


I.   You have the right to judge your own behavior, thoughts, and emotions, and to take the responsibility for their initiation and consequences upon yourself.

II.   You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behavior.

III.   You have the right to judge if you are responsible for finding solutions to other people’s problems.

IV : You have the right to change your mind.

V :  You have the right to make mistakes — and be responsible for them.

VI : You have the right to say, “I don’t know,”

VII : You have the right to be independent of the goodwill of others before coping with them.

VIII: You have the right to be  illogical in making decisions.

IX:   You have the right to say, “I don’t understand”

X:   You have the right to say, “I don’t care.”


The Power of Full Engagement
When are you fully engaged towards a task? It’s when your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy reservoirs are at it’s maximum. The Power of Full Engagement, guides you in recognising which energy reservoir is specifically below it’s optimal potential and what routines can you incorporate to ensure that you are running on full tank as much as possible, as far as possible.

50 Prosperity Classics
All of Tom Butler Bowden books are a Must Read. 50 Prosperity Classics is a summary of 50 books that show how to:
1. Attract Wealth,
2. Create Wealth,
3. Manage Wealth,
4. Finally…how to share it.

And in Tom’s inimitable style, very often the summary of the book covered explains the content better than the Author himself. I read this book cover to cover and enjoyed reading the summary of almost each and every book that he listed. The few books from which a couple of lessons that still linger in my memory are:

– James Allen, The Path to Propertiy
– Bill Gates, Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire
– Corad Hilton, Be My Guest
– Muhammad Yunus Banker to the Poor

See the entire list of the books he covers here.

The War of Art
I have a separate blog post on the War of Art here. Nothing’s changed of my opinion. It really does give Procrastination a solid kick in it’s butt.   I so LOVE this book. And as I’ve said earlier, the audio book is even better. If I could I would gift each of my blog readers a copy of this audio book. But because I’m such a stingy scrooge I won’t be doing that. So do go ahead and purchase the audio book. If not all of it, go ahead and purchase just part 1, it’s currently retailing at a discount of $7.49

Mastery has been lying in my shelf for over a year but didn’t get round to completing it till just last week. It’s just what I needed to get my blog writing and exercise schedule back on track. Although it has a cheesy subtitle “The Keys to Success and Long Term Fulfillment”, George Leonard does a brilliant job explaining how we’re now living in such a “excitement” based society. That every moment has to be simply Rapturous, or it’s not good-enough. All the advertising that we’re pounded with (pictures of the cake just being baked, a couple just moving into their apartment, driving out that brand new car) are setting for us that same unrealistic standard. The key out of the trap is “loving the plateau”. ie Being aware of where you stand in your pursuit (writing and fitness in my case) and realising that success comes after long periods of perfecting the same routine over and over again. I received quite a few take backs from this book. If you do read it, look out for the different personality traits that George points out (the Beginner, the Dabbler, the Hacker and the Master) and see where you fit in.

Hopefully if I get round to it, in future posts, I’ll be listing out the books with summaries that I’ve completed in the following genre’s:
– Spirituality
– Economy
– Autobiography
– Social Change
– and Fiction

Till then, take care and keep smiling. :-)


  1. Dear Sir,
    Thanks for sending the mail, when i started reading this book my shoulder were down and after that i recharge.

    Thank you

    Asgar Ali

  2. Hey Arif, this was a good read. I find some of the Sufi comics a bit moralistic and boring ( I like Garfield and Calvin n Hobbes !!! :-)) but the input you give on various topics is quite good.I esp like the feedback on the different books you read and speed reading article.
    Keep the good work going !


  3. Krishna and Ali Asgar,
    Thanks so much for the motivating message. It goes miles in spurring us to continue with our posts :-)

  4. Hi Saira,
    Thanks for the compliments on the post. You’ve got pretty high standards of reading and writing. Coming from you, it’s really something! By the way, read anything interesting lately?

    Thanks for your feedback on the Sufi Comics as well. Calvin and Hobbes is amazing, infact I subscribe to it at http://www.gocomics.com so I get my daily dose of Calvin emailed to me. Have you read FoxTrot, Boondocks, Non-Sequitor. Search for them at Gocomics.com, all are exceptionally good.

  5. I recently finished reading Dilip Hero’s The Longest War, i.e., between Iran and Iraq. I recommend it highly. I should have read it a long time ago, but, better late than never.

  6. arif check this book out Mcmafia by Misha Glenny youll love it or better download the audio book

  7. Dear Arif,
    A simple and great message of Imam Ali ” Follow the principles not the personality”. Sufi comics are lovely. I like them very much.

  8. Thank you for the comment Shahjahan bhai. What an amazing statement isn’t it, that we should follow principles and not people. The Sufi comics are done entirely by my younger brother Ali.

  9. Hey Arif, I had no idea that your younger brother actually creates them! The Sufi comics ie. Suddenly I feel a surge of guilt :-) it’s very easy to leave a comment but I didn’t realise the effort that must go into it…I kinda figured it was some copy paste from the original.
    What have I been reading lately? Well, at the moment going through a book called Many Lives,Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss.Have you read it? It’s interesting but at times I don’t understand how this new knowledge about the after life is supposed to enlighten me. Will review the book and send it to you once I am done-just so I have a conclusion to it!
    Will keep in touch Arif.


  10. Hi Saira,

    No need to feel guilty, I like honest feedbacks! Even I enjoy Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes :) Hopefully you’ll like some of the future Sufi Comics.

    Mohammed Ali

  11. Good stuff Arif Bhai,
    I always feel that I’m a Lay Illiterate when I see some one telling me about books I haven’t read. Good stuff on the Reviewof Personality Books..


  12. Don’t feel like that Asif bhai. Just having read so many books doesn’t mean that I am any smarter, more skillful or in anyway better than before. Reading is one thing. Having the material sink down to one’s mind and heart is something else altogether.

    Remember, a donkey carrying a load of books, is still a donkey. And I am that donkey. :-).

  13. Hey,

    Thanks a lot for this crisp review on so many books. I like to read but I cant really choose what to read. This is a great help.

  14. Thanks Revathy. I suggest start with 50 Self Help Classics by Tom Butler Bowden, it’s a summary of many of the books mentioned here and will guide you which book to pickup next.


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