The books I read in 2017

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. – Ronald E. Osborn

In 2017, I set a goal to read 1 more book than I read in 2016. (I actually got 2 more in!) This is the list of the books I read and some of the lessons I learned from reading them.

  1. Leading Change by John Kotter provides an eight-step process to overcome the obstacles to change. I learned to create a core group of supporters (the guiding coalition) and provide a clear and simple vision for them to rally around in order to help bring about a desired change.
  2. Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard offers an argument that the best leadership model is servant leadership and to love is the best action a leader can take. He shows that the best way to practice servant leadership and love our team members, we need to emulate the perfect example of leadership, Jesus. This is done through daily prayer, studying God’s Word, and reflection. I learned that if I keep the best interests of the team and the team members in mind I can lead them with love and In order to love well I must stay in touch with Christ.
  3. Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Roth explains that we are all gifted with natural talents that, when combined with knowledge and practiced skills, are the surest path to success. He also shows how society tells us that we need to focus on improving our weaknesses while our strengths atrophy. This book says that even if we improve our weaknesses by 10x, we are still not going to complete with someone who is naturally talented in that area. However, if we focus on refining and applying our strengths, we will be more successful and more importantly, we will find our work to be more satisfying. I learned that when you combine an individual’s strengths with their passions and focus it to achieving the team’s goals, the individual will find fulfillment and work tirelessly to achieving their mission.
  4. Manage Your Day-to-Day by Jocelyn Glei provides advice for how to manage your priorities and reduce distractions so that you can be more effective and productive. The overwhelming lesson in this book is that we all tend to lead distracted lives at home and at work so that our minds are unable to focus on the task at hand. It encouraged me to structure my calendar to ensure time for the things that mattered most to achieving my priorities.
  5. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller shows how we are unable to give our attention to more than one thing at a time. He gives evidence for why it is impossible to multi-task on anything that requires our focus and how our productivity suffers if we try to prioritize too many things. It taught me to pick one key priority each day and to ask myself throughout the day, “is my ONE thing done?” Which allowed me to remain focused on achieving my priorities.
  6. A Spy’s Guide to Thinking by John Braddock uses an entertaining way to teach the lessons of Colonel John Boyd’s theory on the OODA loop. OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act and according to Boyd is the process we go through to make decisions. He showed that in order to defeat an adversary we must complete the loop faster allowing us to disrupt their ability to complete the loop. Braddock gives examples from his experience of how understanding the process it takes to get inside of someone’s OODA loop, create space to make better decisions, and win in any situation. My key take away was that there is always more going on than we can observe, there is always more that we observe than we can analyze and orient ourselves to, there is always more analysis than we can make decisions on, and there are always more decisions than we can act on. In addition, the closer we get to action, the more expensive in time and resources a situation becomes and the harder it is to adjust. Therefore it can be good to spend more time at the early steps to make sure we are making the right decisions and taking the right actions.
  7. The Art of Manliness by Brett McKay provides practical advice for habits all gentlemen should espouse. I felt the most meaningful habit was the power of thank you notes.
  8. Wild at Heart by John Eldredge states that men are born with three key needs; a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. When we try to deny those needs and contain our wild spirits, we feel caged, broken, or dead inside. We are at war and Satan wants us to think that we are not. We must disciple our sons to embrace their strengths. I took it as a personal challenge to develop my sons into men.
  9. The More of Less by Joshua Becker enlightened me that I should reduce the amount of stuff I own and enjoy the stuff I keep. This allows to enjoy the time I save by spending time with the ones I love.
  10. Slide:ology by Nancy Duarte showed how poorly we make presentations. We design presentations using slides rather than using the slides to augment our presentation. We need to design the presentation with the audience in mind and design everything else as an aid to get our message across. I learned that simplicity in presentation support products is the best way to get my message across. In other words, less words are less distracting.
  11. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey teaches that we can achieve more when we effectively work together. We can not effectively work together if we can not effectively work alone. In order to do that we must progress from dependence to independence so we can then work in interdependence. This is done through the seven steps; be proactive, begin with the end in mind, first things first, think win-win, seek to understand then to be understood, synergize, and sharpen the saw. I learned that in order to schedule my priorities, I must know what those priorities are and sometimes I must say no in order to say yes to something more important. Each time I say yes to something, I am also saying no to something else.
  12. Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne taught me that simplification allows us to create physical and temporal space in ours and our kids lives and it is in that space that our kids grow and build the skills that are necessary for them to function as successful adults. He clearly showed that we live in a world of too much, too fast, too soon and it is destroying child development.
  13. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, an investigative journalist, takes his readers on his personal investigation of the validity of the story of Christ. He started his journey as an atheist and ended as a believer. I learned that it is important to investigate my beliefs so that when I am confronted I am confident enough in the evidence of what I believe that I will not question the foundation of my beliefs.
  14. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel takes on the task of writing an investigative report as a skeptic looking at religion through the lens of science. In this book he interviews prominent doctors and scientists to discover and question any inconsistencies between what we know from science and what we know through Christianity. He offers some amazing insight into what is commonly accepted as fact in the scientific community and the implications for Christianity. His primary intent is to drill down to just the facts and allow the reader to decide. I found it very interesting to see what scientific advances have been made in the past 100 years that challenge what is commonly accepted. It was also interesting to see how little publicity those findings received and how they are still not being taught despite widespread acceptance in the scientific community.

What book will you read this month?

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