Can you guess one of the almost forgotten secrets of powerful leaders? It’s found on the printed page or today’s smartphones.
It’s an old skill, almost forgotten in our present, hurried world.
No longer is it enough to have a good idea or product. It’s about respecting leaders who are well-rounded individuals — think Reid Hoffman, Arianna Huffington, Warren Buffett.
These folks are readers, vociferous readers.
Bill Gates is known to read more than 50 books a year. Not everyone has that luxury to pick and choose time and books; however, find a few good reads and make them yours.
Here’s a clue to being well-rounded. Think like the liberal arts majors of yore. There was a time that education meant learning from the classics, history, science, modern fiction. Not just business books.
Now, full disclosure. I’ve written a few business books and yes, I think they are good. However, business books are only one part of the puzzle.
Well-rounded means getting out of your comfort zone and reading what may well make you uncomfortable. Look for books that give you an ‘aha’ moment when you say to yourself, “I never thought of it that way before.”
Here are five good books to get your brain cells reorganized in powerful ways:
1. Shoe Dog: A Memoir, by Phil Knight (Biography)
Can’t get a seat at the table with this titan? Here you are privy to a personal look at this media-shy man whose entrepreneurial journey led to Nike’s global brand.
2. Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity, by Charles Duhigg (Science)
Rewire your decision-making process and change the way you go about your day. More positivity, more energy. Learn how it’s not so much what you think as how you think it.
3.The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning, by Jeremy Lent (Culture)
We are, in great part, the result of patterns we’ve inherited from previous generations.Take a journey back in time to understand the values you hold so dear today. Some still have merit; others may have become outdated.
4. Friend and Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both, by Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer (Development)
Success is a combo deal. Think hot fudge sundae with ice cream and hot chocolate sauce. They galvanize each other by being so different. Find the combination so you can be friend or foe at the right times.
5.The Heart, by Maylis de Kerangal (Fiction)
This powerful story takes place in a short time, yet it’s timeless. A day in the life of a family. It’s an exploration in lyrical prose of grief, hope, and survival. These are subjects we tend to shy away from, yet they are at the core of who we are as humans, and who we are in relationships.
ONE MORE: I’m adding this to the list as one of my favorites:
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, by Sheryl Sandberg
Here is a woman who seemingly has it all. Facebook fame, beautiful family, and a life of privilege. With deep honesty, she discusses how her life changed after the sudden death of her husband and how she had to dig deep inside herself to find the courage to keep going.
Pick one, pick all, and let me know your favorites; I just want to encourage you to read. I promise it will help you stand out from the crowded pack of leaders. Guaranteed.
Originally published on Inc