Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner
Werner's book gives an account of his musical journey and how he learned to "let go" and love the creative process. Each copy comes with a CD of focusing exercises that have really helped me in high pressure playing situations.
The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance by W. Timothy Gallwey
Yes, I know there is an Inner Game of Music book by Gallwey and Barry Green. It's a great book in its own right, but the original Inner Game allows the musician to draw a few more conclusions for themselves in the translation from sports to music. Classic read and highly recommended if you suffer from stage fright!
Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss
I know, I know. Dr. Seuss? Reading was important in my home growing up, but I remember the Little Golden Books, Shel Silverstein and others, rather than books by Dr. Seuss. Sometimes, the most simple of books offer the clearest, most meaningful lessons.
Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
I started listening to Dave Ramsey several years ago on the radio. For those of you who have no idea who Ramsey is, I urge you to Google him. He has some very sound financial practices, especially for those trying to get out from under a mountain of debt. Part of that process is finding work that challenges and stimulates you. Ramsey recommends Johnson's book as a short read to help those seeking a change in career paths. I find it also good for helping me reinforce my own career decisions.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Like the Inner Game series, the 7 Habits series is well known and highly recommended by many. I include it here because it was the first one I read. I suggest reading it every so often, as the 7 Habits apply differently as lives change.
Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist by Michael J. Fox
I admire Fox for his work ethic in the face of an exhausting disability. He continues to act, and has become the face of Parkinson's Disease in the United States. I am a pessimist by nature, and any story of facing and beating seemingly insurmountable odds is one I look forward to reading!
127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston
If you don't know about Aron Ralston, I won't spoil it by telling you here. Just know that when faced with the most dire of circumstances, he chose life over death in a poignant way. Check it out.
What it Takes to Be #1 by Vince Lombardi
Lombardi is a legend in the coaching world, and his motivational methods have been adopted into many other disciplines. This is a key hole peek into the philosophy of the coach who led the Green Bay Packers to victories in Super Bowls I and II.
This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, et al.
This I Believe is based on a 1950s radio program hosted by journalist Edward R. Murrow. Each day brought essays from the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, and Leonard Bernstein as well as anyone able to distill the guiding principles by which they lived. Allison and Gediman introduced the concept again in 2004, citing the goal as "not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.”
If I have an opportunity to share in other beliefs, it might serve as a prompt to help me define my own.
Drive by Daniel Pink
Pink's book is great for those looking to harness untapped energy and motivation in today's high speed, plugged in world. He outlines different types of motivation and helps the reader determine which types of motivation are most effective. It is a thoughtful look at the business world and the concept of "carrot vs stick." It's a fascinating read!
I urge you to take one or two (the Seuss counts for half credit, :] ) when you're looking for that extra bit of motivation in tough times. I have MANY others, so look for other lists to come.