As I huddle on the floor of my office surrounded by books, I am reminded of the many hours spent reading and learning during the year. I don't need to tell you that 2020 has been a year, unlike no other. Books, along with running, have been one of the few things helping me to stay grounded during the tumult we have endured since February.
I think this picture captures all of the non-fiction: business, coaching, leadership, and self-help books that I have read this year. Books are one of the best investments one can make. As Tom Peters said
"If I read a book that cost me $20 and I get one idea, I've gotten one of the greatest bargains of all time."
As my readers will know, I like to share my top book recommendations at the end of each year. So here are my top five books for 2020. I am sharing slightly later in the year than usual, well, a lot has been happening, and I have been busy updating my website, which I had been neglecting because of other projects. Please check it out (the website), and let me know what you think. Back to the books, drum roll please:
1 - Willful Blindness - Margaret Heffernan.
"The problem is not that nobody knows what is happening; the real failures are the refusal to pay attention." This is called willful blindness. The author covers so many topics, how being part of a group, team or organisation increases the chance of wilful blindness through obedience, desire to conform, and conflict avoidance.
2 - Deep Work - Cal Newport.
The author states that the ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. The few of us who cultivate this deep work skill (professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration to push our cognitive capabilities to the limit) will thrive. I covered this topic in-depth in my recent article.
3 - Insight - Tasha Eurich
If deep work is the superpower of the 21st century, then self-awareness is the meta-skill. The author skillfully takes us through why internal and external self-awareness is the foundation of the essential qualities of effective leadership.
4 - What You Do is Who You Are - Ben Horowitz
I have recommended the author's first book "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" to so many people, that it is no surprise that I read this book first in 2020. The fact that Horowitz delves into the importance of culture was a bonus. Once again, the author hits the mark - a great read, one destined to become a classic.
"Your culture is how your company makes decisions when you're not there... It's how they behave when no one is looking."
5 - Managing Transitions - William and Susan Bridges
The fifth book that I am recommending is already a classic. First published in 1995, the wisdom it contains, continues to stand the test of time. We have all undergone significant change this year, mostly unplanned. Still, I think this quote sums up the importance of managing transitions and why a transition is more complicated than just change.
"It isn't the changes that will do you in; it's the transitions. Change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. When a change happens without people going through a transition, it is just a rearrangement of the chairs."
Career transitions are so important, whether the transition to a first leadership role, taking on a significantly larger role, moving regions, or moving organisations. Transition coaching brings a structured approach to help integrate executives into a new culture and way of doing things.
And lastly, a bonus recommendation. A shameless plug - RYSE JOURNAL is my first book. A hybrid journal, notebook, and self-help book. It is designed to help you organise your thoughts in a world of doing more with less. The goal is to help busy professionals develop a coaching style of leadership through insights and activities interspersed throughout their workdays.
Please share your thoughts and comments on these books and let me know of your top book recommendations to read. I am always on the lookout for new suggestions and different authors and topics.
If you want to see my past book recommendations, check out:
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