In today's challenging economic environment, it is so easy to feel out of control, so easy to see yourself as a victim instead of a victor, a loser and not a winner. The stock market has only recently returned to where it started 2009 — and remains well below last year's level. Economic recovery remains tenuous, at best. The job market looks to be 12 months away from being "better." Regardless of whether you're employed, underemployed, unemployed, or retired, there's plenty of uncontrollables to go around. And, as the number and level of uncontrollables increases, so does stress, fear, and instability.
What is the one thing you can control? This might surprise you, because the answer is staring you...right in the mirror. The only thing you can control is you — and the most important tool in controlling yourself is your mind.
This year's book choices are all "inwardly focused" — because what goes on inside us is truly all we CAN control. With some practice and focus, perhaps the insights in these books will help you change the way you look at things, and bring you a higher level of calm, hope, and stability.
— by Alan M. Webber
There is much to love about this book! The author was previously an urban planner for the City of Portland, managing editor of Harvard Business Review, and cofounding editor of Fast Company magazine. Alan is a creative thinker and a talented writer, who has distilled his life experiences into 52 "rules of thumb" — short essays of 3 to 4 pages each, beginning with a description of the experience and continuing with a "So What" section evaluating the experience and sharing the "lessons learned." Some which I especially enjoyed include:
Control your interpretation of events — look for lessons to be learned, both now and for the long-term.
— by Gordon MacKenzie
Okay, let's say you're stuck working for a company with an entrenched "way of doing things" and you don't quite fit that particular "way." What do you do? Gordon MacKenzie worked for 30 years in various divisions of Hallmark, the greeting card company, and came up with his own original, counter-intuitive approach to maintaining his sanity and uniqueness. The Hairball is a company's culture and procedures, and you can either be:
Achieving and maintaining this delicate balance is "Orbit, the only place where you can tap into your one-of-a-kind magic, your genius, your limitless creativity."
I absolutely love books like this — where a beautiful soul pours itself into words and illustrations, laid out with the self-confidence of someone who knows when it makes sense to use gridlines and when they stifle creativity, who asks grade schoolers "How many artists are there in the room?" and is saddened to see fewer and fewer hands go up each grade level because conformity is valued more than creativity, who subversively plots a career through a large company by following his bliss, and who gives the reader the nudge to do the same and follow him into Orbit.
Control your spirit — follow your bliss! Keep this small, fun, colorful, offbeat, engaging book within easy reach, and grab it whenever your spirit needs a recharge.
— by M.J. Ryan
This book has something for everyone! While M.J. states in the book she does not view herself as especially creative, I disagree — she is a craftsperson who has woven together many personal and client stories, insights, and memorable quotes, all centered around the theme of "how to become more adaptable." Among those which stuck with me:
Control how you adapt and respond to change — read this book and take its lessons to heart.
— by by Marshall C. Cook
If you want to deep dive into a book on coaching, this is not the book for you — rather, its goal is to help a manager recognize the small, subtle — but significant — differences in words, attitude, and approach which distinguishes a manager from a coach. And once you see these differences, it becomes easier to make these shifts. Several memorable ones are:
And, yes, the strikethrough is actually part of the section title! This book is one in the "Mighty Manager" series, which includes The Sales Success Handbook, my "Recommended Resource" for the February 2007 "Todd's Results" page. (See www.toddherman.com/toddsresults_2007.html.)
Control how you work with those around you — you and they will feel better for it!
— by Paul Hannam and John Selby
Every economy has its tools. The Industrial Revolution had the steam engine, the Information Revolution had the computer, and today's Knowledge Economy has...well, you. People, the most valuable assets of a company, walk out the door every day and take their most valuable asset with them — their mind.
When I first got this book, I assumed it was about skills to increase the functioning of the brain — but as I began reading the book, I quickly saw this was not the case. Simply stated, this is a book on secular meditation — not meditation from a religious or philosophical viewpoint, but reflecting everyday life. The authors make a compelling case for daily meditation of 10 or more minutes, plus mini-meditations throughout the day.
I'll admit, I was skeptical when I first tried the authors' advice — until it worked. I experienced the increased mental and emotional performance touted in the book — by being more connected with myself, I do have clearer thoughts, more stable emotions (an especially big benefit these days!), and most positive feelings. All you need do is be still, concentrate on your breathing, and progress through a series of focus phrases, such as "I accept everyone at work, just as they are," "I feel connected to my inner source of wisdom," and "I am here to serve, to prosper — and to enjoy myself."
The bulk of the book guides you to quickly apply its concepts, introducing and explaining each focus phrase, which build to form the complete mental "workout." The phrases can be used as part of a "full-mind workout" or applied to:
A great book — as long as you use it, and not just read it.
Control your mind — get it to listen to you, tell it what you want it to do, and then experience the benefits of greater confidence, empathy, self-esteem, and creativity.
All of these are great books! Give each one a try, and maybe you'll agree with me. Whatever you do, once you find a great book, buy a bunch and give them to your favorite clients and colleagues — they will thank you!
Todd L. Herman
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