Learning lifts. It lifts us out of poverty, ignorance, misunderstanding and narrow world views. Learning lands us in richness, intelligence, understanding and expanded world views.
There are lots of ways that learning happens of course, but one of the most accessible ways is by reading. My goal is to read a minimum of one professional development book a month … and then share the learnings with you dear reader.
Here are all the books I read in 2019, starting with my top five favs. Dive in, learn and be lifted.
My Top Five Favs from 2019
The Mindfulness Journal: Exercises to Help You Find Peace and Calm Wherever You Are by Scott and Davenport
- This one is a little unusual in that there’s very little to read. It more prompts you to reflect on weekly subjects such as gratitude, finding purpose, and noticing moods, with daily prompts to write about. I’ve tried other, similar books but this one by far is my favourite. I discovered it in 2019 and it will carry me through 2020.
Think Small: The Surprisingly Simple Ways to Reach Big Goals by Owain Service and Rory Gallagher.
- Ohhhh soooo good! Written by the Directors of the famous ‘Nudge” unit in the UK, it’s all about using behavioral psychology to effect change. What’s more, it’s chockablock full of amazing examples and small, simple ways to apply the techniques to whatever goals you’re trying to reach. I’ll be writing at least one blog post about this book in the future.
Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes
- I had no idea how our intolerance for ambiguity is such a negative driver of our behaviour. Full of fascinating examples (including the siege in Waco, Texas) its a fascinating read on how our need for certainty and closure drives us. I wrote a blog post about it, which includes a survey for discovering your own level of tolerance for ambiguity. Check them out here: What’s your tolerance for ambiguity? (And why it’s key to know).
Joyful: The surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee
- Ingrid has the chops, as former Design Director at IDEO, and she puts those to impressive use in this book when she realized we can actively design our environments to create joy. Traveling the world over, she gives delightful example after example of how to do that (including how Japan has 72 seasons and a hotel with a deliberately uneven floor). My favourite part is the inventory at the end of the book where she guides you to discover which of the ten types of joy mean the most to you. Find out more here. Ten tickets to sparking more joy for yourself (and why that’s so darn important).
- 2019 was a year for diving into mindset for me and wow, did I learn a lot. This book was a big part of that. It’s full of wise nuggets and ways to use them in your own life. The R.A.I.N. technique is one example where you Recognize how you’re feeling, Allow, as is, Investigate your inner self with kindness and Non-identification. On my to-do list for this year is to record myself reading her mediations in the book (e.g. pause for presence, be kind to yourself, remembering the most important thing) and put them on my phone so I can have them at the ready to use.
Here are the rest of my 2019 reads, dividing into categories:
- Learning and learning culture
- Personal development and leadership
- Rupi’s prose are an elixir for troubled times. They open a door to new perspectives and ways of seeing things with fresh eyes. Remarkable. Truly.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
- What can I say? A fabulous book about a fabulous woman who has fabulous, heartfelt things to say. It’s inspirational and motivational.
Learning and Learning culture
I set out to learn more about learning culture in 2019 and these two books really hit the mark for me, especially the second one. I wrote a blog post about what I learned from both here: Your how-to for building a vibrant learning culture (brought to you by the letter E).
- Jason writes about the new normal with learning, continuously integrating learning, understanding barriers to change and R.O.L. – return on learning. It’s a great book to dive into the world of learning culture.
- Ryan includes terrific examples, such as the aircraft carrier that brought operations to a halt to find a lost tool on the ship deck (which could have caused a horrific accident had a landing plane hit it) and then celebrated, yes celebrated, the mechanic who lost it … because he reported the loss (aka the learning culture celebrated and recognized failure). He writes about dispositions that foster learning, building a learning culture, big-picture thinking and learning, and learning and innovations. Fabulous book.
- Chris’s book is an insightful look into the world of influence on the web. Great stuff.
Do way, way more in Workflowy by Frank Degenaar
- If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Workflowy, a simple to-do app. I decided as I use it gazillions of time a day, to take a deeper dive into it with this manual. Find out about the tool here: If the number of plates you have spinning in the air is making you look like a Cirque du Soleil performer …
Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation by Daniel J. Siegel
- This is a great look into the way we think and act. Daniel writes about our window of tolerance and how our right brain is geared towards our interior life while the left brain is more about approaching and exploring (which apparently is why babies soothe themselves more with their left hand, which is controlled by the right brain and explore more with their right hand, controlled by the left brain). Nifty huh!
Personal development and leadership
- I adore pretty much anything Brene Brown writes and this was no exception. Who doesn’t need to rise? Who doesn’t need to be strong in these times? Get the book and read it.
- Examining upper limit issues (where we believe we can only go so far, succeed so much), and knowing what to do about them is the gift of this book. It’s a deep dive into mindset issues. I printed out and framed one of the affirmations and have it on my desk now: “I expand in abundance, success and love, as I inspire those around me to do the same. It doesn’t get better than that.”
Brain-Body Diet: 40 Days to a Lean, Calm, Energized, and Happy Self by Sara Gottfried, M.D
- 2019 was a big year for me, like really big. I had a serious medical issue (What I learned from visiting the pearly gates) and realized it was time to pay more attention to my health. This book has been a good start. It stopped me drinking diet coke (which I’ve been doing for more than thirty years). Onwards and upwards.
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead.
- Click on the blog posts above for the books that call to you to find out more about them.
- Take the ambiguity survey I created from the Nonsense book
- Check out last year’s list of my favourite reads
- Kick up your heels and let the learning in with panache and flair. You do you. Can there be any better example below?
- Create your own list from the books you read last year and celebrate
- Plan for what books you’ll read this year
- Need some help? Join my Learning and Development Roundtable January 17th for our Reflecting Forward Workshop (it’s online and in-person and will also be recorded)
- That Roundtable will set us up for February’s (Feb 21) where I’ll host a workshop on how to create a learning plan for yourself for 2020.