It has always intrigued me that some people just seem to get more done, with high quality, a great attitude, and a focus that is second to none. In my pursuit of growth, books that help me be better: at work, at home, in my community, and in general, always catch my eye.
If you are in pursuit of growth, here are four books that can offer guidance that you can customize and use as your own.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
No recommendation concerning habits is complete without mentioning this classic by Charles Duhigg. For every person you’ve stood and admired for their discipline and conviction, be it their workout routine, productivity at work, responsiveness, or commitment to their family, make no mistake, that person definitely understands the power of habit.
Habits, whether good or bad, have a tremendous impact on our lives. Bringing awareness to them, then making decisions regarding which we will keep and which we’ll change, serves the future self we idealize. Take a moment to inventory your habits; on a separate sheet of paper, list the goals you’ve set for yourself. Are your habits serving your goals?
Once you have your list, Duhigg will guide you through the process of reinforcing, changing, or in some cases, replacing habits to create long-term success.
Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant
Once again, Adam Grant has us thinking – this time about what we don’t know, where our blind spots and biases are, not to mention our general errors in thinking. Reading this book I was reminded of Stephen Covey’s assessment that the power of being human lies in the gap between stimulus and response. That gap represents our ability to pause, consider, inquire, and ultimately choose based on something other than instinct.
Of course, Adam Grant goes much further by asserting that we could be wrong. In fact, we most assuredly are wrong about something. And that’s every one of us. And because we are wrong, about some really important things, this could cost us in relationships, business, and life in general.
So what habits are we trying to improve here and how might this make our lives better? Awareness first and foremost. If I’m aware of the potential for me to get things wrong, as well as the data that tells me when this likely occurs, then I can make more considered choices. Imagine the time we could all save by taking the time to get something right without having to go back and right a wrong.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
A short read with a powerful lesson for any of us that have struggled to name our “Rocks” (again from Covey). Consider this the quintessential book to help guide us to our highest priorities. This delightful read is a roadmap beginning with a healthy mindset leading to the momentum of doing “less”.
Allow yourself permission to say ‘no’, distinguish the vital few from the trivial many, and remove obstacles that stand in your way. While simple, it may not be easy for those with habits that are standing in the way (see the first book recommendation).
McKeown makes a point of writing about the default state. It reminded me of what my Income Tax Accounting Professor told us on our first day of class some 30 years ago: assume the default choice is to the benefit of the Internal Revenue Service, not the individual taxpayer. Personal priorities are the same way; the ‘default’ is that if we do not set them, others are happy to fill the void with their agenda.
Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes by Margaret Heffernan
More than one objection or excuse has been offered to changing habits, improving priorities, and taking control over that which we can. In this gem of a book, Margaret Heffernan conclusively refutes that an individual or company needs spend millions of dollars or institute seismic change to see an impact.
She smartly guides us through what I would deem individual and collective accountability. There are moments throughout a day where empowered individuals without formal leadership titles can make powerful decisions that contribute to what we collectively understand as “culture”. And we’ve all heard the retort that, ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast. The challenge of course is to establish, maintain, and nurture a culture to ensure its posterity. With this quick read, you’ll have an idea of the small habits that yield big outcomes.
If you are looking to create powerful habits that yield substantial results, it may be time to explore how business coaching can help. Step one is to meet with Ken for a 15-minute, no-strings-attached, call to see how (or if) we are a fit.
Ken Kilday is the CEO and Founder of Leader’s Cut: The Ken Kilday Coaching Experience, As an executive coach, business strategist, and LinkedIn expert, he founded his company to work with Entrepreneurial Leaders to master organizational process, communication, and accountability by working both individually as well as with the entire leadership team.