Read to Lead

Since writing these articles for the past couple of years, I have found it so interesting to find which posts get the most comments. To my amazement, some of the most popular musings are when I talk about what I am reading. I am heading out on a two-week vacation tomorrow, so I thought I would share a short list of some of the better books I have read since Christmas and what I am taking with me on vacation.

Since Christmas

  • A Man Called Ove (Fredrick Backman)  I think my favorite book this year is this fictional story of a man who could have lived next door to me as a kid. This book is so well written that you experience what it means to be a simple man who oozes authenticity. The emotion in the book is amazing. Seeing the growth that a human can experience while not changing the core of who they are is one of my biggest enjoyments from this work.
  • The Road to Character (David Brooks) I absolutely love to read anything by David Brooks. He has such a magical way of weaving intelligent observation into historical characters that are interesting and thought-provoking. Brooks covers topics like struggle, dignity, ordered love, and self-examination in this book. While he only covers 10 ideas, they are unexpected ideas for a book on character. I think this is why I liked it so much. I really felt stretched while reading this book. 
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains (Tracy Kidder) I love biography of leaders who are making it happen in the world and this book fits that bill to the “T”. This is the quest of Dr. Paul Farmer.  Kidder does a masterful job of showing the communication of Dr. Farmer's soul.  I was challenged by this book because Dr. Farmer really views humanity as one nation. His love for man, his relentless pursuit of alleviating poverty and suffering made me step back and ask myself how I could have more of an impact in my world. This is a must read.
  • Ask Me (William Stafford) This is book of poetry that William Stafford’s daughter pulled together from thousands of poems he has written. I guess you could call it his 100 most impactful poems. To be honest, poetry really stretches me. I don’t always get it, but I know that it is a good exercise for me as I work on improving my emotional self-awareness. As I read poetry I am working hard on trying to understand the emotion behind what Stafford is trying to say.
  • A Truck Full of Money (Tracy Kidder) This is another book by Tracy Kidder, the biography of the man who is responsible for the wildly successful travel website Kayak.com, Paul English.  This is a good read if you want to understand what goes on in the mind of an entrepreneur.  The title has such an interesting origin, too. A friend who started many companies with Paul once said he always wanted to be close to Paul because he just knew that with his brilliance he was bound to get hit by "a truck full of money." A fun read for those wanting to be more entrepreneurial in their own life.
  • Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (Carlo Rovelli) Okay, so don’t be freaked out by the title. This book is so well done. It is only 81 pages long and summarizes the 7 most important facets of physics, like quanta, particles, and black holes. I think books like these are so important for leaders because they stretch our thinking and connect us to bigger ideas. I always learn something that informs my coaching practice when I read anything like this. For example, as humans, we are both observers of reality and creators of reality at the same time. As a leader, can I separate myself from the action and be an integral part of the action at the same time? How does this inform things like the values I bring to my organization or the value in listening to others on my team? I know it is a stretch, but why read a book that already tells you what you know? Why not read one that extends your mind?
  • 40 Day Journey with Parker Palmer (Parker Palmer) I used this book as a devotion/meditation tool. I found Palmer to be deep in his thoughts. I was challenged to expand my thinking. This is an excellent tool for any leader who wants to expand their thinking, especially as it relates to self-development and social justice.
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Taking on Vacation

Not sure I will get through all these, but here is my reading list:

  • The Way It Is (William Stafford...again) Hey look, I know I need to read more poetry and I like Stafford’s approach.
  • My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She Is Sorry (Frederick Backman) This is my fiction read for vacation. It is by the same author as A Man Called Ove and I loved that book so much I just had to try another by Backman.
  • The Power of The Other (Dr. Henry Cloud) This is my read for coaching skills improvement. It is by one of my favorite authors in the coaching space, Dr. Henry Cloud.
  •  Neuroscience and the Soul (Gregg A. Ten Elshof) This is my metaphysical-stretch-me-out-of-my-mind book. Over the past 6 months I have been on a quest to describe the human soul. Maybe I will blog on that some day. When asking people to define the soul I have received some fascinating answers. This book is an intellectual debate between those who believe in the soul and a group of scientist who say there is no neurological basis for this part of the human.  I am really fascinated to see how the argument forms and what results.

So, that's my list. If you decide to pick any of these up, I would love to know what you think. Also, if you are reading something cool, let me know. I love books and would love to know what you are reading.

That's it. I am now officially on vacation. I am so excited to rest and recharge my batteries.