A selection of books we find inspiring
Scroll through this collection of our favorite books and read our reviews. We think you will find this to be an invaluable resource of wisdom and perspective.
Man’s Search for Meaning
by Viktor E. Frankl
Written in 1945, in just nine days following the end of WWII, Viktor Frankl, an eminent psychiatrist of his time, wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning”. It has sold tens of millions of copies, has been published in dozens of languages and for many it’s been a life-changer.
This book is divided into two halves. The first is a chilling and inspirational account of Frankl’s experience as a long-term prisoner and survivor of 4 Nazi concentration camps, including the renowned Auschwitz. The second half of the book focuses on Frankl’s work on Logotherapy.
What Frankl began to see during the 3 years he was immersed in unimaginable suffering and loss, was there were some prisoners who were able not only to survive the horrifying conditions, but to grow in the process. They weren’t the fittest, strongest or youngest either, it was simply that they appeared to have a different attitude to their experience, as evidenced from the following 2 observations:
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
“It is this pivotal freedom which cannot be taken away that makes life meaningful and purposeful.”
From the perspective of his experiences inside the camps Frankl posits that we have incredible power to shape both our attitude and response to the many challenges life presents us. We are responsible for the content – if not the context – of our lives. And regardless of our circumstances, what we do, how we think about it and how we choose to respond actually does make a difference between whether an up-set in our life defeats us or ends up becoming a set-up for growth.
Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else
by Geoffrey Colvin
I spent a whole year of elementary school staring at Thomas Alva Edison’s quote that “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”. My teacher had posted it in giant letters on top of the blackboard. I still didn’t believe it. I grew up subscribing to the widely held belief that geniuses were the winners of the genetic lottery, they were born with a spark that the rest of humanity could never match no matter how much we tried. Of course, hard work put us in a better place than we would have been without it but no matter how hard we tried we could never hope to achieve the paradigm changing excellence of a Mozart or an Edison.
Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin, senior editor at large of Fortune magazine, completely takes apart the “born with it” myth using scientific research and by analyzing the stories of many all time masters in fields as wide apart as business, sports and music. Colvin goes a step further and puts forth the idea that it is a highly specific kind of effort that he calls “deliberate practice” that makes the difference between outstanding and average performance. Colvin’s ideas on how to conduct this deliberate practice are well fleshed out, thought provoking and immensely useful for anyone trying to master new learning for themselves or facilitating the process for someone else.
The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life
by Benjamin Zander & Rosamund Stone Zander
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway
by Susan Jeffers
I have always been curious about how different people respond to fear and how some people use their fear as a force to motivate while others get completely paralyzed by it. When I first saw “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Dr. Susan Jeffers on the book shelf I rolled my eyes and thought, here is another one of those cheesy self help books. But then a voice within told me what’s the harm in reading it and so I picked it up on a whim. I was surprised at how I resonated with the book and how it helped me further my thinking on crafting creative responses to fear that would otherwise cripple us. Based on a course taught at the New School for Social Research, this book offers readers a clear-cut way of analyzing and understanding our fear patterns and a plan for action that helps us move from a dysfunctional, victim response to a creative, masterful response.
Dr. Jeffers avoids psychological lingo and uses her personal experience with the crippling effects of fear in her personal life and her journey to mastery along with several case studies in work and personal contexts to illustrate her points. She also uses several situational exercises that guide the reader through applying these insights in their own contexts. Do read the book intuitively and do not over intellectualize…