In My Hands Today…

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Greg McKeown

Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?
Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?
Are you often busy but not productive?
Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the EssentialistThe Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

By forcing us to apply a more selective criterion for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.

Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. A must-read for any leader, manager, or individual who wants to learn who to do less, but better, in every area of their lives, Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.

In My Hands Today…

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us – Seth Godin

A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). It’s our nature.

Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time. All those blogs and social networking sites are helping existing tribes get bigger. But more importantly, they’re enabling countless new tribes to be born—groups of ten or ten thousand or ten million who care about their iPhones, or a political campaign, or a new way to fight global warming. And so the key question: Who is going to lead us?

The Web can do amazing things, but it can’t provide leadership. That still has to come from individuals—people just like you who have passion about something. The explosion in tribes means that anyone who wants to make a difference now has the tools at her fingertips.

If you think leadership is for other people, think again—leaders come in surprising packages. Consider Joel Spolsky and his international tribe of scary-smart software engineers. Or Gary Vaynerhuck, a wine expert with a devoted following of enthusiasts. Chris Sharma leads a tribe of rock climbers up impossible cliff faces, while Mich Mathews, a VP at Microsoft, runs her internal tribe of marketers from her cube in Seattle. All they have in common is the desire to change things, the ability to connect a tribe, and the willingness to lead.

If you ignore this opportunity, you risk turning into a “sheepwalker”—someone who fights to protect the status quo at all costs, never asking if obedience is doing you (or your organization) any good. Sheepwalkers don’t do very well these days.

Tribes will make you think (really think) about the opportunities in leading your fellow employees, customers, investors, believers, hobbyists, or readers. . . . It’s not easy, but it’s easier than you think.

In My Hands Today…

The Truth about Leadership: The No-Fads, Heart-Of-The-Matter Facts You Need to Know – James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

In these turbulent times, when the very foundations of organizations and societies are shaken, leaders need to move beyond pessimistic predictions, trendy fads, and simplistic solutions. They need to turn to what’s real and what’s proven. In their engaging, personal, and bold new book, Kouzes and Posner reveal ten time-tested truths that show what every leader must know, the questions they must be prepared to answer, and the real-world issues they will likely face.

Based on thirty years of research, more than one million responses to Kouzes and Posner’s leadership assessment, and the questions people most want leaders to answer Explores the fundamental, enduring truths of leadership that hold constant regardless of context or circumstance-leaders make a difference, credibility, values, trust, leading by example, heart, and more Shows emerging leaders what they need to know to be effective; fans of The Leadership Challenge will find a dynamic new look at the real challenges leaders face today Drawing from cases spanning three generations of leaders from around the world, this is a book leaders can use to do their real and necessary work-bringing about the essential changes that will renew organizations and communities.

In My Hands Today…

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – Anne Lamott

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said. ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

With this basic instruction always in mind, Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer’s life. From “Getting Started,’ with “Short Assignments,” through “Shitty First Drafts,” “Character,” “Plot,” “Dialogue.” all the way from “False Starts” to “How Do You Know When You’re Done?” Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses “Writers Block,” “Writing Groups,” and “Publication.” Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive.

If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this book is for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.

What Does Success Look Like?

Success, the very word conjures up images of someone who is wealthy or famous or maybe someone who does very well in school or work. Or maybe it is someone who has a wonderful relationship with their spouse, parents or children. Or it could be someone in a combination of the above.

We live in a consumer-driven society and the culture we live in places a big emphasis on making money and defines success by how much we own. Advertising messages communicate that having certain luxury brands is the definition of success. So what makes one successful in this society? Is it hitting a specific income bracket or living in a specific zip code or driving a particular car model? But the question then arises is if success is only an outward manifestation or is it something deeper, something that is intrinsic to what is most important to us?

Every individual has their definition of success and what is important to them. While we need to do some things for the sake of earning an income, it is important to balance responsibilities with activities we enjoy doing. That means having enough free time to spend with people we love as well as time for practising self-care. For this to happen, we need to check if we can balance our lives to do what we enjoy doing and if not, what steps we can take to achieve a more balanced lifestyle.

One thing to be able to achieve that balance is to be secure and stable financially because while one need not be excessively wealthy to be happy, having a healthy bank balance will allow us to design our life in ways we want and a healthy bank balance will give financial stability that can mean success. What this means is that you need to figure out exactly how much you need to live a comfortable lifestyle and use that number to hit your financial goals.

Success is not all about what you do or don’t have. Someone who wants to live a life caring for others without being financially successful and achieves that is successful in their definition of success. Success is also not about big achievements, getting that ultimate promotion which will change all the time. Instead, think of success as small goals which are the ladders to the main big goal. These goals can be small, short-term wins which also give you the impetus to get to the larger goals.

Our definitions of success will change over time because our priorities change and what seemed important back then may become trivial now. Our values and needs evolve and with this, the definition of success will be revised and adjusted.

What is my version of success? It’s pretty simple actually. To me, I will consider myself successful if I am financially stable so that S and I can retire in peace, give my children a good upbringing and education and inculcate in them the values and character that make them excellent human beings and good citizens.

At the end of the day, success is being able to look at yourself in the mirror and feel good about the choices you’ve made. No person is without their mistakes, but you learn and grow through the process. Your version of success doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, but it must be a definition you feel good about and that is meaningful to you. Ultimately, the way that you define success will lead you toward living a more contented life that is aligned with your values.

What is your definition of success?