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This is the fourth in a 7 blog series which comes out of Coach John Wooden’s Life and Leadership Mantra. Hard to argue with Coach Wooden’s success. If you’re curious, check out his TED talk from 2001:

So this month, we’re looking at lesson #4 – Drink Deeply from Good Books.

When Coach Wooden spoke of this tenant, a book that was central to his list was the Good Book itself, the Bible.  As the grandson of a United Church minister, baptized and confirmed in said church, this book has at least in some small way shaped who I am as a coach, leader, father, trainer and more.  And since I set out to redefine success, my work and my business, countless new books and resources in line with my goals have been referred or found their way to me.  They’ve helped shape everything from my vision, business practices, techniques (coaching, leadership), and daily habits/rituals.

For the purposes of this short post, there are 4 books which have had my attention of late, some for several years, others more recently, that I will pass along as “good books.”  I hope there’s something in here for you, and if there are others you’re burning to share, please let me know!


Standing-in-the-FireStanding in the Fire author Larry Dressler is a world renowned facilitator of high stakes meetings and negotiations.  In this piece of work, Larry offers sage wisdom, compelling questions and practical exercises to help those who lead or facilitate high stakes meetings/events.  He argues that characteristics like deep self awareness, open mindedness, the ability to stand in the here and now (presence) and clear, compelling guiding intentions help to profoundly shift the outcomes of these events.  In fact, who you are being as the facilitator is as if not more important than the process and skills you bring.  Practical in application, this book will have you look in before you step back out in the teams and groups you are charged to help enliven, lead and transform.



How Will You Measure Your Lifehow-will-you-measure-your-life.  Harvard Professor and Innovation Expert Clay Christensen asks this seminal question which he, and dare I say I, feel we will all ask ourselves at some point in our life.  Perhaps for many, often too late to make significant changes.  Using laymens terms to share causal (vs. casual) and other business theories, Professor Christensen compares lessons learned from successful and failed businesses to how we, as achievement oriented individuals, make choices, day by day, in our lives.  He shares that as his 5 year Harvard MBA reunions came and went over time, more and more of his classmates were increasingly unhappy with how their lives had played out.  He relates this to how we can grasp for things that reward us now, and cost us later.  Accordingly to Christensen and his co-authors, this flows from the tendency to constantly compare self to other (in something he calls “nested systems”), the impact our pervasive drive for success has on us, and how consistently pursing short term desires (e.g. promotions, closing deals, etc.) can create longer term dissatisfaction (disconnection from family or purpose).  Pack with business case evidence and highly relevant questions, he argues that you can still be driven, succeed and make choices that create both short and long term satisfaction, fulfillment and happiness.



mindsightMindsight.  As a Professional Coach who incorporates neuroscience into my work, this book by Dr. Dan Siegel is one to return to again and again.  Premised on his research and practice as a psychiatrist, Dr. Siegel shares stories that prove the resiliency, plasticity and incredible capacity our brains have to change and develop over the entire course of our lives.  His book clearly shows that the statement “well, it’s just who I am” is simply a matter of believing that truth and reinforcing those beliefs day after day.  Should we choose to be a new “I am,” our brains are up for the task!  And he shows how integrating the hemispheres of our brain leads to more curiosity, openness and creative outcomes that often include more fulfilling experiences with others.  As the synopsis says “Mindsight can help us master our emotions, heal our relationships and reach our fullest potential.”  If you are a coach, privately or in an organization, the whole book might be for you.  If you are not a coach, but you lead and help others reach their potential, key highlights and the evidence provided therein will be well worth your time.



GremlinTaming Your Gremlin. Deemed by many to be a classic, Rick Carson’s book (and institute) is an invaluable resource to me as a coach and developer of leaders in the world.  The concept of our Gremlin (or Inner Critic, or Saboteur as we call it at CTI) is spelled out as the self-limiting beliefs and thoughts patterns we have that keep us small and hold us back.  This applies on both the individual and team level (as Systems Intelligence articulates).  Rick does a masterful job at practically and playfully describing the concepts and then has you, the reader, get clear on the messages and persona of your Gremlin(s).  What we know from neuroscience is that your Gremlin is just a series of neural pathways that have been firing, and are well wired, over many years.  And if we listen to Dr. Siegel, we can make changes to decrease our Gremlin’s impact on our lives.  By bringing your Gremlin to life, the messages it has for you can be held up objectively and with curiosity and their truths tested.  I use it regularly with senior business leaders and private clients alike as the get clear and begin to claim the path they want their life to take, so that the can live a life they will be proud to measure when that time comes.


So for those of us enjoying these warm days of August in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope you enjoy these or other good books you have in a hammock, on a dock or in the place of choice you have to read.  For others, it may be by the fire or somewhere warm.  And I’m always interested in more, so please, send them on over.

In service,