As a mother of four, I’ve spent a lot of my life reading books to my kids. A family favorite was books by Dr. Seuss. My kids loved the funny stories; I loved the life lessons they taught.
I’ve never forgotten this quote from the Seuss book, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
I have learned a lot about myself and running a business from reading. Here are some books that have made a difference in my life.
My Reading List
Brené Brown has written several books I heartily, and heartfully recommend:
The Gifts of Imperfection
Brown herself recommends that if you’re new to her works, you should first read The Gifts of Imperfection. In this book, she shares 10 guideposts intended to help people change their lives, navigating through the “unattainable and sabotaging expectations that get in the way.”
Brown says, “This book is an invitation to join a wholehearted revolution.” The movement, she writes, is “fueled by the freedom that comes when we stop pretending everything is okay when it isn’t.”
The Gifts of Imperfection encourages readers to understand that they’re worthy of living their best lives and that while it may seem like “an act of resistance,” we must choose to be authentic. Brown writes, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of whom we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.
Too many business owners think being a leader is about having the power to do whatever they want. But Brown says, “Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas and has the courage to develop that potential.”
And she adds, “Daring leaders must care for and be connected to the people they lead.”
As CorpNet has grown, I have applied that principle to my business, learning to delegate more to my staff. As Brown writes, daring to lead is seeing what our employees are capable of and trusting them to do their jobs. Of course, she adds, we need to “stay curious and ask the right questions.”
Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
A common theme in Brown’s books is encouraging people to show up and be seen—even though we don’t know what the outcome will be. In other words—to be brave. But she acknowledges that “living a brave life is not always easy…we are, inevitably, going to stumble and fall.”
Brown is a social scientist, and Brown used her research background to examine the stories of those who rose after falling and concluded that the commonality they shared was “not being afraid to “lean in” to discomfort.”
She believes it’s a test of courage “to regain our footing in the midst of struggle,” but doing so helps us forge our values. Brown writes, “Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness. It’s the process that teaches us the most about who we are.”
Emotional Intelligence 2.0
By Travis Bradberry
What exactly is emotional intelligence (EQ)? The author explains it as “the ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.”
Being an emotionally intelligent leader gives you an edge today when it’s so challenging for businesses to attract and retain employees. This book not only explains what emotional intelligence is but shows you how to increase your EQ by following a step-by-step program focusing on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management and implementing it to reach your full potential.
The Four Agreements
By Don Miguel Ruiz
This book, a bestseller for over a decade, explores the self-limiting beliefs most of us have that keep us from being happy and successful.
The Toltecs were an indigenous tribe that ruled parts of what is now Mexico from around 950 to 1150. The Four Agreements is based on Toltec wisdom that the author says can “rapidly transform our lives.”
The Four Agreements are:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
The author believes that as children, our true nature is “to love and be happy, to explore and enjoy life; we are completely authentic.” But then, he says, society imposes a system of punishment and reward upon us, and we become “domesticated” and unhappy.
We’re searching, he explains, to find what we’ve lost and need to make these Four Agreements with ourselves to “recover our authentic selves “and find freedom, happiness, and love.
The Power of Habit Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
By Charles Duhigg
Every one of us has habits or patterns of behavior. Some are good; others are bad. This book explains why habits exist—scientists say they emerge because our “brains are constantly looking for ways to save effort”—and how we can change them.
All habits, says Duhigg, have a 3-step formulation: cue, routine, and reward. The “golden rule” of habit change is to substitute the routine when you get the cue. How? Willpower. Easy to say; harder to do. But I make an effort every day.
Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life Beyond Your Wildest Dreams
According to the book, being a super attractor means “you don’t have to work so hard to get the life you want.” The power, it says, to “tap into the infinite source of abundance, joy, and well-being that is our birthright” lies within us.
To become a super attractor, the author says you need to connect your spiritual life with your day-to-day experiences, learn to let go of the past, and embrace the future without fear.
The book explains the practical steps we need to follow to become “super attractors” and “co-create the life” we want. And it leaves you feeling joyful.
Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell
By Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle
Bill Campbell, a former college football coach, who died in 2016, was known as Silicon Valley’s preeminent executive business coach and mentor. He worked with some of the biggest and brightest “stars” and visionaries in the world of business, including the authors of this book, who all were leaders at Google. Eric Schmidt was the former CEO of Google and executive chairman of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
In addition to Google, Campbell helped build corporate juggernauts like Intuit and Apple, creating over a “trillion dollars in market value.” For the book, the authors interviewed many of Campbell’s clients to learn about the lessons Campbell taught them.
Coach Bill, as he was known, was able to build trusting relationships, foster personal growth, and inspire courage. The book lays out how he did that, creating a blueprint for business owners to help them build higher-performing companies.
Campbell believed in only coaching the coachable. So if you’re honest, humble, willing to work hard, and open to learning, there’s a lot to learn from this book.