21 Books Will Show You How Successful People Make Decisions Differently

If decisions shape destiny, then learning how to make decisions improves the ability to shape destiny. These 21 books will show you how successful decision making happens. Learning strategies for better decision making could impact real-life outcomes more than IQ.

The Wisdom of the Myths: How Greek Mythology Can Change Your Life

wisdom-of-myths“Heroes, gods, and mortals. The Greek myths are the founding narratives of Western civilization: to understand them is to know the origins of philosophy, literature, art, science, law, and more. Indeed, as Luc Ferry shows in this masterful book, they remain a great store of wisdom, as relevant to our lives today as ever before. No mere legends or clichés (“Herculean task,” “Pandora’s box,” “Achilles heel,” etc.), these classic stories offer profound and manifold lessons, providing the first sustained attempt to answer fundamental human questions concerning “the good life,” the burden of mortality, and how to find one’s place in the world.”

Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger

“Seeking Wisdom is the result of Bevelin’s learning about attaining wisdom. His quest for wisdom originated partly from making mistakes himself and observing those of others but also from the philosophy of super-investor and Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charles Munger. A man whose simplicity and clarity of thought was unequal to anything Bevelin had seen.”

“In the book, he describes ideas and research findings from many different fields. This book is for those who love the constant search for knowledge. It is in the spirit of Charles Munger, who says, “All I want to know is where I’m going to die so I’ll never go there.” There are roads that lead to unhappiness. An understanding of how and why we can “die” should help us avoid them. We can’t eliminate mistakes, but we can prevent those that can really hurt us. Using exemplars of clear thinking and attained wisdom, Bevelin focuses on how our thoughts are influenced, why we make misjudgments and tools to improve our thinking.”

Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions

“The four principles that can help us to overcome our brains’ natural biases to make better, more informed decisions — in our lives, careers, families and organizations.”

“In Decisive, Chip Heath and Dan Heath, the bestselling authors of Made to Stick and Switch, tackle the thorny problem of how to overcome our natural biases and irrational thinking to make better decisions, about our work, lives, companies and careers. the Heath brothers, drawing on extensive studies, stories and research, offer specific, practical tools that can help us to think more clearly about our options, and get out of our heads, to improve our decision making, at work and at home.”

Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware

“In this book by Andy Hunt, you’ll learn how our brains are wired, and how to take advantage of your brain’s architecture. You’ll learn new tricks and tips to learn more, faster, and retain more of what you learn. You need a pragmatic approach to thinking and learning. You need to Refactor Your Wetware.”

“Programmers have to learn constantly; not just the stereotypical new technologies, but also the problem domain of the application, the whims of the user community, the quirks of your teammates, the shifting sands of the industry, and the evolving characteristics of the project itself as it is built. We’ll journey together through bits of cognitive and neuroscience, learning and behavioral theory. You’ll see some surprising aspects of how our brains work, and how you can take advantage of the system to improve your own learning and thinking skills.”

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds

“Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original papers that invented the field of behavioral economics. One of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, Kahneman and Tversky’s extraordinary friendship incited a revolution in Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. In The Undoing Project, Lewis shows how their Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality.”

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

Ellenberg chases mathematical threads through a vast range of time and space, from the everyday to the cosmic, encountering, among other things, baseball, Reaganomics, daring lottery schemes, Voltaire, the replicability crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of non-Euclidean geometry, the coming obesity apocalypse, Antonin Scalia’s views on crime and punishment, the psychology of slime molds, what Facebook can and can’t figure out about you, and the existence of God.

Ellenberg pulls from history as well as from the latest theoretical developments to provide those not trained in math with the knowledge they need. Math, as Ellenberg says, is “an atomic-powered prosthesis that you attach to your common sense, vastly multiplying its reach and strength.” With the tools of mathematics in hand, you can understand the world in a deeper, more meaningful way. How Not to Be Wrong will show you how.

A History of Western Philosophy

Considered to be one of the most important philosophical works of all time, the History of Western Philosophy is a dazzlingly unique exploration of the ideologies of significant philosophers throughout the ages—from Plato and Aristotle through to Spinoza, Kant and the twentieth century. Written by a man who changed the history of philosophy himself, this is an account that has never been rivaled since its first publication over sixty years ago.

Since its first publication in 1945, Lord Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy is still unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace, and its wit. In seventy-six chapters he traces philosophy from the rise of Greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the twentieth century.

Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson

In the tradition of grand sweeping histories such as From Dawn To Decadence, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and A History of God, Hecht champions doubt and questioning as one of the great and noble, if unheralded, intellectual traditions that distinguish the Western mind especially-from Socrates to Galileo and Darwin to Wittgenstein and Hawking. This is an account of the world’s greatest ‘intellectual virtuosos,’ who are also humanity’s greatest doubters and disbelievers, from the ancient Greek philosophers, Jesus, and the Eastern religions, to modern secular equivalents Marx, Freud and Darwin—and their attempts to reconcile the seeming meaninglessness of the universe with the human need for meaning.

Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition

No matter your field, industry, or specialty, as a leader you make a series of crucial decisions every single day. And the harsh truth is that the majority of decisions—no matter how good the intentions behind them—are mismanaged, resulting in a huge toll on organizations, the people they employ, and even the people they serve.

So why is it so hard to make sound decisions? In Think Twice, now in paperback, Michael Mauboussin argues that we often fall victim to simplified mental routines that prevent us from coping with the complex realities inherent in important judgment calls. Yet these cognitive errors are preventable.

In this engaging book, Mauboussin shows us how to recognize and avoid common mental missteps. These include misunderstanding cause-and-effect linkages, not considering enough alternative possibilities in making a decision, and relying too much on experts.

The Odyssey

If the Iliad is the world’s greatest war epic, the Odyssey is literature’s grandest evocation of an everyman’s journey through life. Odysseus’ reliance on his wit and wiliness for survival in his encounters with divine and natural forces during his ten-year voyage home to Ithaca after the Trojan War is at once a timeless human story and an individual test of moral endurance.

Fagles has captured the energy and poetry of Homer’s original in a bold, contemporary idiom, and given us an Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery. Renowned classicist Bernard Knox’s superb introduction and textual commentary provide insightful background information for the general reader and scholar alike, intensifying the strength of Fagles’s translation.

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Every day we make choices—about what to buy or eat, about financial investments or our children’s health and education, even about the causes we champion or the planet itself. Unfortunately, we often choose poorly. Nudge is about how we make these choices and how we can make better ones. Using dozens of eye-opening examples and drawing on decades of behavioral science research, Nobel Prize winner Richard H. Thaler and Harvard Law School professor Cass R. Sunstein show that no choice is ever presented to us in a neutral way, and that we are all susceptible to biases that can lead us to make bad decisions. But by knowing how people think, we can use sensible “choice architecture” to nudge people toward the best decisions for ourselves, our families, and our society, without restricting our freedom of choice.

Thinking in Systems: A Primer

Thinking in Systems, is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global. Edited by the Sustainability Institute’s Diana Wright, this essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing readers how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life.

In a world growing ever more complicated, crowded, and interdependent, Thinking in Systems helps readers avoid confusion and helplessness, the first step toward finding proactive and effective solutions.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation―each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives―and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.

The Wisdom of Crowds

In this fascinating book, New Yorker business columnist James Surowiecki explores a deceptively simple idea: Large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant—better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future.

With boundless erudition and in delightfully clear prose, Surowiecki ranges across fields as diverse as popular culture, psychology, ant biology, behavioral economics, artificial intelligence, military history, and politics to show how this simple idea offers important lessons for how we live our lives, select our leaders, run our companies, and think about our world.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

A black swan is an event, positive or negative, that is deemed improbable yet causes massive consequences. In this groundbreaking and prophetic book, Taleb shows in a playful way that Black Swan events explain almost everything about our world, and yet we—especially the experts—are blind to them. In this second edition, Taleb has added a new essay, On Robustness and Fragility, which offers tools to navigate and exploit a Black Swan world.

Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

Finally in paperback, the word-of-mouth sensation that will change the way you think about the markets and the world.This book is about luck: more precisely how we perceive luck in our personal and professional experiences.

Set against the backdrop of the most conspicuous forum in which luck is mistaken for skill–the world of business–Fooled by Randomness is an irreverent, iconoclastic, eye-opening, and endlessly entertaining exploration of one of the least understood forces in all of our lives.

The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms

The Bed of Procrustes takes its title from Greek mythology: the story of a man who made his visitors fit his bed to perfection by either stretching them or cutting their limbs. It represents Taleb’s view of modern civilization’s hubristic side effects—modifying humans to satisfy technology, blaming reality for not fitting economic models, inventing diseases to sell drugs, defining intelligence as what can be tested in a classroom, and convincing people that employment is not slavery.

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them many things in life benefit from stress disorder volatility and turmoil What Taleb has identified and calls antifragile is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.

In Antifragile Taleb stands uncertainty on its head making it desirable even necessary and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust The resilient resists shocks and stays the same the antifragile gets better and better Furthermore the antifragile is immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events Why is the city-state better than the nation-state why is debt bad for you and why is what we call efficient, not efficient at all

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t

Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.

In keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, Silver visits the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. He explains and evaluates how these forecasters think and what bonds they share. What lies behind their success? Are they good—or just lucky? What patterns have they unraveled? And are their forecasts really right? He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition. In other cases, prediction is still a very rudimentary—and dangerous—science.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is one of Jeff Bezo’s favorite books. It’s the book that gave Bezo’s a regret minimization decision model.  “If you read “The Remains of the Day”, which is one of my favorite books, you can’t help but come away and think, I just spent 10 hours living an alternate life and I learned something about life and about regret,” Bezo explains. This is the book to prompt Bezo into starting Amazon. He looked forward 80 years and concluded the regret of not starting Amazon would be more painful than if Amazon failed.

Seeing What Others Don’t: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights

Insights like Darwin’s understanding of the way evolution actually works and Watson and Crick’s breakthrough discoveries about the structure of DNA can change the world. We also need insights into the everyday things that frustrate and confuse us so that we can more effectively solve problems and get things done. Yet we know very little about when why or how insights are formed or what blocks them. In Seeing What Others Don’t renowned cognitive psychologist Gary Klein unravels the mystery. Klein is a keen observer of people in their natural settings scientists businesspeople firefighters police officers soldiers family members friends himself and uses a marvelous variety of stories to illuminate his research into what insights are and how they happen.

Klein also dissects impediments to insight such as when organizations claim to value employee creativity and to encourage breakthroughs but in reality block disruptive ideas and prioritize avoidance of mistakes. Or when information technology systems are dumb by design and block potential discoveries. Both scientifically sophisticated and fun to read Seeing What Others Don’t shows that insight is not just a eureka moment but a whole new way of understanding Insights.



This is part of a Real World MBA curriculum. Other parts of the curriculum include Management, Strategy, Startups, Execution, Career Success, Finance, Dealing with People, Communicating, Ethics, Biographies and Marketing.