Learning comes in as many varieties as there are blades of grass in a meadow.
From that quick, quiet absorption of a new thought to a thunderbolt of holy he##, rock my world, turn it upside down, shake it all around and then settle in with a whole new perspective, great learning is juicy, intriguing, and what makes us human.
Here are my top five favs from 2021.
Cheers to the sizzle of learning. Dive into the learning well, learn and be lifted.
My Top Five Favs
The Mom Test; how to talk to customers and learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you by Rob Fitzpatrick
- Oof! My dear friend and colleague Nivi recommended this one to me and am I ever grateful. If you need to gather information from a customer, a focus group, a community etc. then this book will rock your world. It’s a fun, engaging read on how not to be biased and to really dig into getting people’s input and feedback.
Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan
- A thoroughly well-researched classic book (it’s been on my list to read forever), it’s chockablock full of fascinating case studies and examples, paired with easy- to- follow skill development.
- I use the safety principle regularly when I’m having a difficult conversation (knowing that if the other person doesn’t feel safe, we’re not going to get anywhere in our communication) and how to recognize when that’s an issue and what to do about it.
Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes by Elizabeth Lesser
- “This is a book about stories—the stories a culture tells, and how those stories become the culture. It’s about the stories we still blindly cling to and the ones that cling to us.”
- “When the stories that have glued together a culture lose their potency, things begin to fall apart, but new things rise up. Turmoil and backlash ensue, but so do big leaps forward. This is the clumsy way that human cultures evolve.”
- So so good. Loved every bit of it and I used quotes about power in courses I designed on collaboration, conflict resolution and negotiation.
- I snuck this one in as my last read of the year when I found it on the bookshelf of my dear friend Jackson’s Tangulia camp in the Mara, and I’m so glad I did.
- I’d read his Power of Habits book, and I like this one even better. The examples he gives (two different planes about to crash, poker player Annie Duke) are riveting, and the in-depth research is apparent.
- “Productivity is the best use of energy, intellect and time to seize more meaningful rewards with less wasted effort.”
- The section on teams (and vital importance of group norms and psychological safety), and how research shows great teams are those where members speak roughly equally over time and are very good at picking up social cues is fabulous.
- Same with the section on goal setting – reading about the history of SMART goal setting and the thing that’s missing (it’s stretch goals) is changing how I’m going about planning this next year.
How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
- This captivating read, including the author’s honest portrayal of his own journey, highlights the critical importance of taking a structural look at situations.
- “The function of racist ideas—and of any kind of bigotry more broadly: to manipulate us into seeing people as the problem, instead of the policies that ensnare them.”
- “Racist ideas make people of color think less of themselves, which makes them more vulnerable to racist ideas. Racist ideas make White people think more of themselves, which further attracts them to racist ideas.”
That’s a wrap for 2021. Once again, I hope the books resonate with you and that you’ve had a haven from this mad year by having cozied up with your own fav reads. Onto our 2022 reads.
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead
- Click on the books that call to you to find out more and check out other year’s top reads, including 2020, 2019 and 2018
- Learning shouldn’t make you fall asleep – like this sweet little one. Bonus: the giggles when she wakes up.
- Speaking of learning, last week I held my monthly Learning and Development Roundtable which this time was on designing a learning plan for you and/or your team. Missed it? Not to worry. Simply sign up to become a member (it’s free) and you’ll get all the resources and access to all the replays.