Musical Angel, Rosso Fiorentino, c.1522
Last autumn, I read a book titled “Never Stop Learning: Stay Relevant, Reinvent Yourself, and Thrive” by Bradley R. Staats (2018). I truly found the reading relevant and it came into my life in a timely fashion. Actually, the course I was taking in which the book was required arrived serendipitously into my life when I needed it most. I was inching ever closer to the last few classes for my MBA and I was wondering if I had really learned anything about leadership. I had taken one course over the summer before, a seminar in leadership and fell in love with its concepts and its book, “Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2012). The theories of black swans and emergent leadership in times of crisis were extraordinary to me. I devoured anything related the rest of the summer, but I could not quite grasp the “how-to” of it all. Leadership as a process seemed intangible and just slightly out of my grasp.
The spring prior to the summer seminar I took a course in transformational and mindful leadership, where I dug deeply into my values, my integrity, and my hypocrisy, and I knew this journey would help me. I compared mindfulness to the situational awareness I learned in the military. It was akin to letting the ego go in order to focus on the collective good. However, I was still somewhat confused about this “how-to.” I knew transformational leadership when I saw it. I had always labeled poor management as “bosses” and good management as “leaders,” but that was not quite correct. There was something more with leadership – some key I was missing.
The thing I finally realized after a year and a half of leadership readings and coursework was that I would never know. And that is okay. There is no way to know. The sheer complexity and history of any process around us limits us from ever being able to analyze it and spit out a prediction. But what we can do is pay attention, let go of the ego, be brave, and put people first. Of course, there is so much more to it than that. Delving into leadership is a journey of learning and letting go. However, there is one common thread that is tangible and trackable. And it harkens back to the first book I mentioned. If I could give only one piece of advice it would be this – Never Stop Learning.
A List Of Books That Accompanied Me On My Leadership Journey
The Books That Set The Stage
- Transformational Leadership (2nd edition), Bernard M. Bass and Ronald E. Riggio (2006)
- Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, Hans Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund, and Ola Rosling (2018)
- Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body, Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson (2017)
- Mindfulness in Organizations: Foundations, Research, and Applications (Cambridge Companions to Management), Jochen Reb (2017)
- Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious, Timothy D. Wilson (2004)
- Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long, David Rock (2009)
The Books That Changed My Life
- Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2012)
- Never Stop Learning, Bradley R. Staats (2018)
- Building the Bridge as You Walk on It: A Guide for Leading Change, Robert E. Quinn (2004)
- Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Chip Heath and Dan Heath (2010)
- The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth, Amy C. Edmondson (2019)
Have you read these books? Share your thoughts? Have you read something related, but not listed? Please share! I look forward to your comments!