Long before social distancing, I remember my mother escaping into the pages of a book during the languid Midwestern summer months. She loved having us around but she also knew she needed to slip between the pages of a book at times. She would say something like “I am maintaining my distance to retain my sweetness.” I think it is a great message for these times we are living in. Cracking open a new book is good for the soul, now perhaps more than ever.
While it is important to keep workflows and project plans pumping, it is equally important to allow elective time for reflection. As Peter Drucker said: “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection, will come even more effective action.”
Here are 5 of my personal recommendations for Summer Reading for Leaders…
#1 The Starfish and the Spider by Brafman and Beckstrom
While this book is about, “The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations” it inspires personal growth as we look within at our willingness to distribute knowledge graciously to build an open versus centralized orientation. This is a powerful area of reflection and impacts all of our relationships at work and beyond.
“Put people into an open system and they automatically want to contribute. Ideology is the glue that holds decentralized organizations together.” -Brafman and Beckstrom
#2 Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive by Marc Brackett
I have written a great deal about Emotional Intelligence and its power in propelling leaders to the next level. The truth is, it is really about a shared language that empowers each of us individually, and therefore raises the collective consciousness.
“Most of us are unaware of how important vocabulary is to emotion skills. As we’ve seen, using many different words implies valuable distinctions—that we’re not always simply angry but are sometimes annoyed, irritated, frustrated, disgusted, aggravated, and so on. If we can’t discern the difference, it suggests that we can’t understand it either. It’s the difference between a rich emotional life and an impoverished one.” -Marc Brackett
#3 Navigating Polarities: Using Both/And Thinking to Lead Transformation by Emerson and Lewis
The powerful concept of Polarities is gaining traction right now in the field of leadership. It can be a difficult concept to digest and this book decodes what can be a complex theory. Emerson and Lewis explore poignant questions such as: How can you be candid and diplomatic at the same time? How can you provide structure and flexibility while keeping things stable and leading change efforts?
“Polarities confirmed for us that when we honor both and eliminate neither transformation is possible” – Emerson and Lewis
#4 The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day by Andy Puddicombe
I am sure many of you have heard about this book and the Headspace App that I first discovered in 2018 in Bill Gates’ publication of GatesNotes. While I have been a student of meditation for many years, this program makes my practice sustainable and therefore transformational!
“Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and understanding how and why you think and feel the way you do, and getting a healthy sense of perspective in the process.” -Andy Puddicombe
And last but certainly not least…
#5 Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman
This revolutionary book can best be summed up by these words from its pages:
“An old man says to his grandson: ‘There’s a fight going on inside me. It’s a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil–angry, greedy, jealous, arrogant, and cowardly. The other is good–peaceful, loving, modest, generous, honest, and trustworthy. These two wolves are also fighting within you, and inside every other person too.’ After a moment, the boy asks, ‘Which wolf will win?’ The old man smiles. ‘The one you feed.’” -Rutger Bregman
What books will you pick up this summer to facilitate your ability to maintain your distance and retain your sweetness? Happy reading …