Sunday, August 19, 2012

10 (Okay, 11) Good Books for Getting Better

Jim Rohn once said that you should "work harder on yourself than you do on your job."  The following is a collection of resources (in no particular order) that I have found helpful for doing some of that work.
  1. Flow- The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  Readers of this Blog may remember I have discussed this book previously. An exploration of how high performers get "into the zone" or "in the groove."
  2. Do the Work, by Steven Pressfield.  Identify the "Resistance" holding you back.
  3. How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon. This is an absolute must-read for anyone starting or planning a career.  It poses some very difficult questions, but aren't those the only ones worth wrestling with?
  4. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?  by Seth Godin.  There are no excuses for leading and solving interesting problems.  Overcome your lizard brain and the fear locking you down (see "Resistance" above).
  5. The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron.  If you think you are not an artist, and are not a "creative" person, you are so wrong.
  6. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, by Atul Gawande.  I have previously written about Gawande and the importance of checklists here, here, and here. All organizations can improve their processes and manage their knowledge more effectively by utilizing checklists.
  7. Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.  You think your thinking process is "rational" and "objective"?  Reconsider.  Knowledgeable insight into how our biases affect decisionmaking.
  8. The Power of Full Engagement: Managing  Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.  In order to be effective, you have to manage your energy:  physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. 
  9. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen.  Do it, Delegate It, or Defer It.  Close open loops.  Know the difference between the urgent and the important- especially if the most recent email hitting your inbox always becomes your highest priority.
  10. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. A very detailed roadmap of how to get control of your professional and personal life.
  11. End Malaria, edited by Michael Bungay Stanier.  Sixty important authors contributed their ideas to this book, each article is very short, and I guarantee you will learn something you can use from each piece.

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