It’s these long summer days and mild evenings that see me sitting in the garden with a book. Or multiple books as is often the case. I also listen to talking books in the car thanks to http://www.audible.com so one way or another, I’m reading and absorbing plenty! These days I’m more likely to visit the local 2nd hand shop and bring home a bag of biographies, art books. theosophy or business strategy books. I can’t go past a good gardening book either and one day I’ll figure out how to care for my plants in pots so they last past their first blooms.
It’s usual for me to have a theme that carries through all of the books that I have on the go…sometimes deliberately, other times serendipitously. I usually prefer to read non-fiction over fiction (except in my early teens where I had an obsession with horror and science fiction writing and Stephen King was my master).
So the theme at the moment is ‘How to get out of your own way’ and do the things you really want to do. Not because your mother thinks it’s a good idea, and not because it’s a great way to pay the bills and not because it will look good on your resume. Just because you want to do it and it is, as one author put it ‘your silent scream’. The thing or things you want to do more than anything else in the world if only you could get out of your own way long enough to start doing it.
So I started with “When work doesn’t work anymore, Women, Work and Identity” by Elizabeth Perle McKenna. Rather an academic book but with some very good insights (while not offering too much in the way of guidance) which should have been a best seller when it came out in 1997 as it turned out to be an excellent prophecy of what the future would hold not just for women but for all worker bees. That money, power and world domination aren’t the measures of success that are driving us any more. And in particular, have proved pretty unhealthy for women and men alike.
Push forward to 2006* and the audio/book “Success Built to Last” by Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery and Mark Thompson and the theme continues except they are using more high-profile examples of success and everyone’s got the same idea that ‘money aint enough’ and you need to love what you do and do what you love to have real lasting success. (Just quietly, I think if “When Work doesn’t work anymore” had used more well-known people as case studies, it might have been more successful however it was published in a time when we didn’t light candles to celebrities but I digress). I really enjoyed ‘Success built to Last’ and recommend it. One idea struck me as useful (amongst others) that if you want to really spend your time on the things that matter most to you then figure out the things you should do more of and the things you should do less of. I liked this and set about making a list. We should all do more lists
In one of my charity shop excursions I picked up “there are only two times in life – Now and Too late” by Terry Hawkins. It looked like it might prove helpful in that ‘moving out of your own path’ way of thinking I was developing but in all honesty, the structure of the book was such that I lost interest after the first two chapters. It didn’t seem to have much direction. So I agreed with the title and decided now was a good time to stop reading it.
Another excellent audio book (yes, i spend a bit of time in the car and i cant bear commercial radio so I’m an audio book-o-phile) is ‘Buy-in: Saving your good idea from being shot down’ by John P Kotter and Lorne A Whitehead*. I really enjoyed this. Great strategies for getting your opponents to open up about their objections to your brilliant idea so that you can overcome them by calm discussion and get on with your project in peace having gained 70%+ support for it. This book has help me in my working life negotiations and would recommend their ideas.
So now. The sun is setting and I turn away from my business books, pick up my rose wine spritzer, stroke one of my cats who is sitting on the table guarding me against flies and other intruders and pick up my next book: ‘The French’, it was written by an Englishman, Theodore Zeldin, in 1983. My husband is French, so perhaps I’ll gain some new insights and maybe a new theme will develop… I wonder where this one will take me…..
*released on www.audible.com