Every year, I aim to read at least 50 books from a wide array of genres. But I concentrate a lot of my reading on leadership development, productivity, and spiritual growth. These are my favorite books of 2017.
1 & 2. The books we’re writing…
My two favorite books of the year are the ones that my wife and I are writing. I admit it. This is shamelessly self-promoting. But I’ve read less this year because I’ve been writing and editing more.
In 2018, I will release my first published book. The working title is Getting (un)busy: Practical Steps to Beat Busyness and Live with Greater Purpose, Productivity, and Peace. Using both personal experience and significant research, it’s a guide for overwhelmed people to overcome busyness so that they can live in the way that they were designed to live.
At the same time, Dorothy is also writing a book called Grieving with God. It is part memoir and part leadership insights. She tells the story of losing my mom to terminal cancer while both of us had significant leadership responsibilities. How can leaders grieve well while they also have to lead well?
I can’t wait to share these with you. I have, after all, dedicated more of my time to these two books than any others this year!
Summary: Great leaders don’t tell you what needs to happen and how to do it. They continually come back to why. Start with why, then move to how and what.
Outcomes: (1) Start with Why taught me to continually remind my team of both the big picture and little picture of why. Go back to your purpose all the time – even if people are sick of hearing about it. But I also learned to remind them of the little picture why. Now we look at our projects and goals for the year and remind ourselves why we have chosen these. When you’re in the weeds of work, it’s easy to forget why you committed to this goal. As the leader, I should remind us why we are working on this project.
(2) One of Sinek’s insights is that you don’t try to convince people that your why is for them. Instead, you find people who already believe in and embody your why. You want to connect with them. This has been a big leadership insight. I’ve always liked the challenge of convincing people to buy into my why. But my time and energy are better spent identifying people who already are committed to the same why.
Summary: Wholeheartedness explores the emotional causes of busyness and exhaustion. DeGroat doesn’t focus on time management concepts to beat busyness (I read Work Simply by Carson Tate for that). Instead, it focuses on the mental and emotional aspects that lead to busyness.
Outcomes: This book has been a life-changer for my wife and me. I’ve spent years dealing with the spiritual and time management aspects of beating busyness, and I am convinced that busyness stems from these things.
But DeGroat has helped us see the psychological side of busyness. DeGroat shows that every person has an “inner committee” — a group of voices and thoughts that linger in your mind — who criticize you. These voices tell you that you’re not doing enough and that you could be better. All of this leads to busyness as you attempt to silence those voices.
If you can learn to engage those voices with compassion, you can break the chains of busyness. I am more aware of the inner critics who tell me that I’m not doing enough and learning to engage them rather than trying to suppress them.
5. The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson
Summary: Learn to pray in ways that focus on your dreams and desires. Batterson emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the dreams and visions God puts in your heart. He helps you learn to identify those and pray through them. The book is well written, theologically rich, and immediately practical.
Outcome: Batterson is a pastor in Washington, D.C. and is fun to read. He has great stories and engaging writing. But it’s not just entertaining. It has changed the way that I pray – not only my rhythms but what I pray for. I’ve spent more time engaging some of my biggest dreams and deepest longings of my heart in prayer. I’ve become more intentional in praying focused and specifics prayers for my marriage, kids, writing, business, and ministry.
Two more books stood out to me this year that I’d like to mention:
Brunson gives great insights on the importance of sales funnels to any business and organization. But he focuses on how to do this in an online business. This book has shaped the way I’m thinking about AdVance Leadership and the products and services we offer.
This book inspired me to spend more time in solitude as a leader, and I have already seen it pay huge dividends. As a leader, you do need to be in front of people and with people. But there’s also a need for solitude.
This book is an honorable mention because I didn’t particularly like the historical / biographical chapters, though some people will love that. Nonetheless, the insights transformed the way I intentionally use solitude as a leader.
Question: What are your favorite books of the year?