Numerous personal and professional challenges pushed me towards books that embraced "resiliency" and empowerment.
1. The Resilience Factor by Karen Reivich & Andrew Shatte
Amazon.com Review: In the capable hands of psychologists Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatté, resilience is not a Band-Aid or a buzzword. It is a habit of mind. The Resilience Factoris a practical roadmap for navigating unexpected challenges, surprises, and setbacks at work and home. Their premise–that your thinking style determines your resilience–underlies the books promise: you can boost resilience by changing the way you think about adversity.
The authors synthesize decades of research in cognitive psychology, particularly the work of Aaron Beck and Martin Seligman, to create seven practical strategies for bouncing back. Each strategy demonstrates how “thinking styles” affect emotions and behavior. “The secret is accurate thinking, not positive thinking,” they explain. After completing a “Resilience Questionnaire,” readers learn to turn off negative thoughts, avoid thinking traps, detect “icebergs”–the basic beliefs that cause us to overreact–and restore perspective. Each strategy is illustrated with vivid examples, including acting-out teenagers, battle-torn marriages, downsized workplaces, and the loss of loved ones. This insightful book offers clear descriptions of resilient thinking and workable tools for changing our minds. –Barbara Mackoff
2. Peak by Chip Conley
Product Description: After fifteen years of rising to the pinnacle of the hospitality industry, Chip Conley’s company was suddenly undercapitalized and overexposed in the post-dot.com, post-9/11 economy. For relief and inspiration, Conley, the CEO and founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, turned to psychologist Abraham Maslow’s iconic Hierarchy of Needs. This book explores how Conley’s company “the second largest boutique hotelier in the world” overcame the storm that hit the travel industry by applying Maslow’s theory to what Conley identifies as the key Relationship Truths in business with Employees, Customers and Investors.
Part memoir, part theory, and part application, the book tells of Joie de Vivre’s remarkable transformation while providing real world examples from other companies and showing how readers can bring about similar changes in their work and personal lives. Conley explains how to understand the motivations of employees, customers, bosses, and investors, and use that understanding to foster better relationships and build an enduring and profitable corporate culture.
3. Alone Together – Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle
Booklist Review (Carl Hays): “With the recent explosion of increasingly sophisticated cell-phone technology and social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook, a casual observer might understandably conclude that human relationships are blossoming like never before. But according to MIT science professor Turkle, that assumption would be sadly wrong. In the third and final volume of a trilogy dissecting the interface between humans and technology, Turkle suggests that we seem determined to give human qualities to objects and content to treat each other as things. In her university-sponsored studies surveying everything from text-message usage among teens to the use of robotic baby seals in nursing homes for companionship, Turkle paints a sobering and paradoxical portrait of human disconnectedness in the face of expanding virtual connections in cell-phone, intelligent machine, and Internet usage. Despite her reliance on research observations, Turkle emphasizes personal stories from computer gadgetry’s front lines, which keeps her prose engaging and her message to the human species—to restrain ourselves from becoming technology’s willing slaves instead of its guiding masters—loud and clear.”
Amazon Review (Harry C.Edwards): “Five years ago, Jim Collins asked the question, “Can a good company become a great company and if so, how?” In Good to Great Collins, the author of Built to Last, concludes that it is possible, but finds there are no silver bullets. Collins and his team of researchers began their quest by sorting through a list of 1,435 companies, looking for those that made substantial improvements in their performance over time. They finally settled on 11–including Fannie Mae, Gillette, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo–and discovered common traits that challenged many of the conventional notions of corporate success. Making the transition from good to great doesn’t require a high-profile CEO, the latest technology, innovative change management, or even a fine-tuned business strategy. At the heart of those rare and truly great companies was a corporate culture that rigorously found and promoted disciplined people to think and act in a disciplined manner. Peppered with dozens of stories and examples from the great and not so great, the book offers a well-reasoned road map to excellence that any organization would do well to consider. Like Built to Last, Good to Great is one of those books that managers and CEOs will be reading and rereading for years to come.“
5. Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham
Product Description (Excerpt): Beginning with the million-copy bestsellers First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham jump-started the strengths movement that is now sweeping the work world, from business to government to education. Now that the movement is in full swing, Buckingham’s new book answers the ultimate question: How can you actually apply your strengths for maximum success at work?
Research data show that most people do not come close to making full use of their assets at work — in fact, only 17 percent of the workforce believe they use all of their strengths on the job. Go Put Your Strengths to Work aims to change that through a six-step, six-week experience that will reveal the hidden dimensions of your strengths. Buckingham shows you how to seize control of your assets and rewrite your job description under the nose of your boss.
Product Description (Excerpt): Getting an MBA is an expensive choice-one almost impossible to justify regardless of the state of the economy. Even the elite schools like Harvard and Wharton offer outdated, assembly-line programs that teach you more about PowerPoint presentations and unnecessary financial models than what it takes to run a real business. You can get better results (and save hundreds of thousands of dollars) by skipping B-school altogether.
Josh Kaufman founded PersonalMBA.com as an alternative to the business school boondoggle. His blog has introduced hundreds of thousands of readers to the best business books and most powerful business concepts of all time. Now, he shares the essentials of entrepreneurship, marketing, sales, negotiation, operations, productivity, systems design, and much more, in one comprehensive volume. The Personal MBA distills the most valuable business lessons into simple, memorable mental models that can be applied to real-world challenges.
7. Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious by Gerd Gigerenzer
Product Description: Reflection and reason are overrated, according to renowned psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer. Much better qualified to help us make decisions is the cognitive, emotional, and social repertoire we call intuition—a suite of gut feelings that have evolved over the millennia specifically for making decisions. “Gladwell drew heavily on Gigerenzer’s research. But Gigerenzer goes a step further by explaining just why our gut instincts are so often right. Intuition, it seems, is not some sort of mystical chemical reaction but a neurologically based behavior that evolved to ensure that we humans respond quickly when faced with a dilemma” (BusinessWeek).
8. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman
Product Description: Known as the father of the new science of positive psychology, Martin E.P. Seligman draws on more than twenty years of clinical research to demonstrate how optimism enhances the quality of life, and how anyone can learn to practice it. Offering many simple techniques, Dr. Seligman explains how to break an “I—give-up” habit, develop a more constructive explanatory style for interpreting your behavior, and experience the benefits of a more positive interior dialogue. These skills can help break up depression, boost your immune system, better develop your potential, and make you happier..
With generous additional advice on how to encourage optimistic behavior at school, at work and in children, Learned Optimism is both profound and practical–and valuable for every phase of life.
9. Living With Complexity by Donald A.Norman
Product Description: If only today’s technology were simpler! It’s the universal lament, but it’s wrong. We don’t want simplicity. Simple tools are not up to the task. The world is complex; our tools need to match that complexity.
Simplicity turns out to be more complex than we thought. In this provocative and informative book, Don Norman writes that the complexity of our technology must mirror the complexity and richness of our lives. It’s not complexity that’s the problem, it’s bad design. Bad design complicates things unnecessarily and confuses us. Good design can tame complexity.
Norman gives us a crash course in the virtues of complexity. But even such simple things as salt and pepper shakers, doors, and light switches become complicated when we have to deal with many of them, each somewhat different. Managing complexity, says Norman, is a partnership. Designers have to produce things that tame complexity. But we too have to do our part: we have to take the time to learn the structure and practice the skills. This is how we mastered reading and writing, driving a car, and playing sports, and this is how we can master our complex tools.
Complexity is good. Simplicity is misleading. The good life is complex, rich, and rewarding—but only if it is understandable, sensible, and meaningful.
10. Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi and Bernadette Brennan
Product Description: This is the story of an 18-year-old New York City girl and her exciting solo circumnavigation of the globe on a 26-foot sloop with only a cat for company. Aebi had little previous experience, so most of what she learned was “on the job” and from people she met en route. One of the most appealing aspects of this particular single-handed sailing account is Aebi’s naivete and the caring response that she encountered all over the world. Her 27,000-mile, three-year trek is usually attempted only by practiced sailors, and her survival was achieved by pluck, inventiveness, helping hands, and a good deal of luck. Armchair sailors will cheer and dream a little and veterans may only shake their heads.