5 Essential Books that aren’t on your University reading list:

If you’re going to be successful in life then you need to be committed to CPD, continued PERSONAL development.  Yes I intended to say personal instead of professional.  I believe you make your own luck in this world; if you’re committed to being the best person you can be, you will reap the rewards.  I have previously talked about the importance of gaining experience in developing as a coach coupled with the knowledge to support your practice here.  However they are not the only skills you need to be successful.  You must set goals, be efficient with your time, be great at making friends and understand how people work as human beings as well as the impacts your actions have on others.  This article contains a list of 5 books that I believe are essential reading material not only for S&C coaches, but for anyone who wants to be successful.  I know there are many more significant books out there and indeed in my own library, these are just the ones, which I feel hold the most value.


Please note I am not recommending you read these books.  They are not light reading material.  I suggest you study them.  Go through them slowly with a pencil/highlighter/post-it stickers/whatever works best for you.  Make sure you digest the information thoroughly and are proactive in applying the principals to your life.  I have provided a link to the book on Amazon through each cover picture.  I do not get any profit if you purchase them, however I guarantee you will benefit immensely.  Feel free to comment at the bottom if you’ve already read some of these books, what your opinions are and if you can recommend anything in return, I’d always appreciate it.



7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey – arguably the best book I’ve ever read.  Don’t just take my word for it, this book was not only an international best seller but was named the No.1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century.  My immediate reaction on completing it was “wow I need to read that again”, and indeed I have.  In fact I know a couple of people who read it annually and I aim to do the same.  In this book Stephen Covey presents the necessary ingredients for success; from goal orientation to time management and much more.  There are principals for personal management alongside interpersonal skills that have completely changed the way I operate.  The second principal, “Begin with the end in mind” contains an eye opening visualisation exercise that if you’ve never done before, will truly reveal to you some of your core values as well as what you most want to achieve and how you want to be remembered.  If I were to suggest just 1 book to anyone who wants to be successful, it would be this.  However if you really want to be successful then I shouldn’t need to encourage your thirst for knowledge, you’ll read the whole list and will hopefully recommend a few books to me as an equal exchange 😉



Linchpin by Seth Godin – I was first made aware of this book by Nick Grantham.  If you’re familiar with Seth Godin’s work then you may have seen the odd TED Talk or read other books such as Tribes or Purple Cow.  He is the most influential business blogger in the world and as we are all working in the business of life, his ideas carry a lot of weight to every career path. In his words:

“The linchpin is the individual who can walk into chaos and create order, someone who can invent, connect, create, and make things happen.  Every worthwhile institution has people who can make differences like these.”

This book doesn’t only explain what it means to be a Linchpin but how it is achievable for anyone and the principals on which you can become indispensible.  How you can make your work your art, be inspirational, provide a unique connection between other members of your organisation and that you just need to get it done/ship!  It is by following many of these principals that I am writing this blog.  Failure counts as done so even if what I write is rubbish (please tell me where I can improve) at least I’m shipping every week.


how to win friends

How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie – I’ll be honest with you, my mates ridiculed me a little for reading this book on holiday.  They stated that “I shouldn’t need to read a book to help me make friends” and asked “why I was trying to influence people?”.  Well having read it, I can say that I’m extremely glad I did.  Dale Carnegie set some fundamental laws that I try to stick to on a daily basis.  The most important of which I’ve mentioned in a previous post, that is:

“Don’t criticise, condemn or complain”

As in business, coaching within professional sport (or at any level for that matter) inevitably involves many conflicts of interests and opinions.  It is essential to get along with your colleagues, understand their point of view and earn the trust of everyone whom you are working with.  This book will teach you that the most important elements of this are being sincere, taking a genuine interest in others, listening to what they have to say and that “the only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it”.  I will later dedicate a post to the idea that a huge part of coaching is learning to pick your battles because for sure, you can’t win them all.  Basing how you do so on the principals in this book will guaranteed make you more successful at winning others to your way of thinking.


outliersBounce - by Matthew Syed

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell & Bounce by Matthew Seyed – both of these books are very good and deliver a similar message.  I couldn’t decide between the two so yes, there are in fact 6 books on this list.  They explain through very relevant examples that great success is about the combination of hard work (to the point of obsession) and making the most of your opportunities.  That success is not just a product of hard work but also circumstance and that no one ever makes it alone.  Bounce uses more examples from a sporting context and I have passed it on to a number of my athletes.  However, personally I prefer Malcolm Gladwell’s writing style and have enjoyed both his other titles, the Tipping Point and Blink.  Luckily no one’s saying that I have to choose one over the other so I recommend you read them both!  They are also a lot lighter reading than the other books on this list.



Goals! by Brian Tracey – to be honest this book starts off very reminiscent of the 7 habits.  At first I was just thinking that I should read 7 habits again but I’m very glad I continued.  Brian Tracey defines a fantastic structure of goal setting that really works and will make sure you achieve what you want in life.  Furthermore it will help you figure out what you really want in life and your defining purpose.  I immediately bought into this process when it mentioned methods of setting 5 year goals that I’d discovered for myself a few years ago and have since made a reality.  However, no matter how good you think you are at setting goals, making a plan and achieving your targets, this book will make you better.  I personally carry it with me on most camps and continue to scribble notes in it.  It is currently sitting on my bedside table.  Everyone has dreams, this book will teach you how to turn those dreams to goals by making a concrete plan of action and there’ll soon become reality.


As always, I hope you found this article beneficial.  I can’t stress enough how important I believe the principals in these books are.  I feel I have achieved a lot in the last few years and as these books have significantly influenced the way I operate, I’m sure I owe a lot to what I’ve learnt from them.  Thanks for reading, keep working towards your goals and feel free to comment with any recommendations of your own.  Next on my hit list is “Legacy – What the all blacks can teach us about the business of life” by James Kerr.

goal quote


1 Comment

Filed under Development, Motivation, Strength & Conditioning

One response to “5 Essential Books that aren’t on your University reading list:

  1. Pingback: If you want to be a top level S&C Coach, you need to act now! | Matt Dickens' pureHealth pureSport

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