Category Archives: Books to Read

Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Here is a book to add to your reading list  Drive – The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. This book was written by Daniel Pink. Please note , as a caveat, this was the first book I read as an online library book. Maybe this was what made me think it was not the best in its editing or overall construction design. That is why I rate it a 3 out of 5.

This book explains how carrots and sticks are not the reward process for non mechanical tasks. Instead autonomy, mastery and flow are the required elements to motivate the creative workforce. In terms of content there are lots of wonderful nuggets of information including source references to some of the creators of some of the theories – such as the 10 years to get to expert knowledge. Although this was mentioned by Malcolm Gladwell in his TED Talk – it likely came from K Ander Ericsson, Ralf D. Krampe and Clemens Tesche Romer Psychological Review 100 December 1992.

I especially liked “Mastery”, the urge to get better at stuff,  and the information on “Flow”. The end has some ideas – presented in a toolbox format which are in essence presentation handout material. These are well worth gleaning and interpreting. So don’t skip that.

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Spring Reading

Over the past few weeks, I have been reading quite a few books. I have also read several books in digital format.  Reading digitally is something I seem to do well during the daytime, and has worked for both non fiction and fiction. Non fiction is more of a daytime activity for me, as it usually stretches my mind and needs more mental concentration.However for nighttime reading I still prefer paper.

I have also challenged myself to read 100 books in 2012.  I tried this once before, when I was in my early teens, and managed to get to an official total of 99 books. I kept track of my books in a fuchsia covered spiral bound notebook. It is the one of the few possessions I have ever regretted disposing. However, I seem to recall some of the included several Nancy Drew’s, some Hardy Boys, Little Women and Little Men. In addition I think I remember reading a few Reader’s Digest books that included,  Hotel St. Gregory, Here Comes The Brides and Menfreya in the Morning by Victoria Holt.

This time I am tracking my books online with Good Reads, an online community of readers. So far I am up to 22 books this year. One of the books I just completed was Quiet- The Power of the Introvert, check my last post for a review.  I have also finished the three books of The Hunger Games and completed books 1 – 4 in the Game of Thrones series.

I’ve been a happy reader since I was 4 years old. Reading fiction is where I usually unwind, it is my restorative niche (see my last post) for more info on this concept.

So what is on your reading list? Do you separate out daytime reading from nighttime reading?

You also might enjoy these earlier posts:

Winter Reading

Summer Reading

Thinking about Notebooks, Loss and Life

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts

Quiet                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Quiet: The Power of Introverts  by Susan Cain is an insightful read. At the onset of this book, the author theorizes that a shift has occurred in our western culture from one that rewards introversion and introspection to our current “culture of personality” that shapes our current negative outlook on introverts.

Some of the areas covered in this book include the biology of personality traits, a perception on Asian cultural difference, (which in my opinion could cover some European cultures as well in terms of politeness and taking up people’s valuable time), and how to love and how to work best within your introvert/extrovert style.

I definitely think professional organizers and life coaches might want to take in part 4 (How to Love, How to Work) of this book to think about how this applies not only to them but to their clients. The concept of individuals developing “Restorative Niches”, attributed to Professor Brian Little, is briefly explored. The idea being that it is a place where you go to return to your real self. This can be a physical place or a temporal one such as a break or buffer between appointments. This is to me an important part of helping a client improve their self-care. Defining and knowing this as an important part of one’s being is critical for optimum success.  Space design from an introverts prospective is another useful concept and applicable to professional organizers and specifically, productivity coaches, in their work. Finally, an interesting exploration of “Flow” is briefly discussed and some works of Mihlay Csikszentmihalyi are referenced. Cain suggests introverts should seek to use their “gifts” and stay true to their own nature.

I would have liked to see more exploration and comparisons on the intricacies of introverts/extroverts. Perhaps a chart or two to clearly point out the distinctions by the various theorists presented (Jung, Myers Briggs, “Big 5”). In addition, I would have also liked to learn more about ambivert ( a combination of both) which after reading this book I am beginning to believe fits me best.

My one other nagging thought about this book, is on early group work, especially as it pertains to creative writing. While this book nay-says the value of group work in creative writing for introverts, which is obvious and makes sense to me, I think more research work needs to be done in delving into those who “think” in their head or those who like to “speak it out” in order to process their thoughts and ideas. I know for myself I was a poor writer until I learned to “talk it out” in my head. Facilitated work with a teacher (not an untrained group of student as some classwork is now designed) might have helped improve my writing skills at an earlier age, and actually improved my intellectual thinking skills.

The author’s TED talk made in Long Beach, California in March of 2012 is an interesting overview of some portions of her book plus gives a few takeaways on making three final points. 1) Stop expecting group work to work for all – don’t disparage the introverts and work to let extroverts experience working solo   2)  Go experience the wilderness – unplug! and she is not meaning just go out into nature. I think she means the wilderness of free time and space to think internally.  3) Introverts be willing to share what is inside.

I hope Ms. Cain will expound upon her work and explore this subject in a broader fashion, helping extroverts understand introverts and introverts understand extroverts.

So if you are introverted read the book, or if you are extroverted watch the TED Talk, let me know what you think.

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Six Thinking Hats – Perhaps Seven!

Six Thinking HatsHave you ever thought about thinking styles? The book Six Thinking Hats may be a good read to get you started in understanding your own style as well as how you participate in a group. Beyond this, it is a wonderful definitive way to add thinking dimension to group work.

Six Thinking Hats was written by Edward De Bono in 1985 and revised in 1999.

De Bono’s concept of hats and specific focused thinking styles is very helpful when brainstorming or approaching something difficult or new. This book and concept is great for the classroom and the boardroom.

Hats can be used singly to request a type of thinking or they can be used in a sequence to explore a subject or solve a problem.

  • White Hat Thinking: Facts, Truths and Philosophers
  • Red Hat Thinking: Emotions and Feelings
  • Black Hat Thinking: Careful and Cautious
  • Yellow Hat Thinking: Speculative and Positive
  • Green Hat Thinking: Creative, Lateral thinking, Alternatives
  • Blue Hat Thinking: Control

Let me put forth a Seventh Hat – The Orange Hat. This would be the Zig Zag Hat that performs all other hat functions. It’s purpose is to create some creative chaos and perhaps spark a new direction or strengthen a quiet hat’s viewpoint or soften a noisy hat’s enthusiasm. The Orange Hat is energy and chaos. The Orange Hat participates only in the middle of the planned conversations and group work. The Orange Hat would have limited time and interruption parameters and can be overridden by The Blue Hat.

For those of you that have read the book, let me know what you think about it as well as my proposed “Orange Hat”. If you haven’t read this book, I highly suggest you add it to your reading list.

This is a best of post from 2009.

 

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Switch – Book Review

The book Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chris and Dan Heath is an insightful view  into how we can make changes ourselves or design easier ways for others to make change happen.  The basic metaphorical concept (Rider, Elephant,  and Path)  takes a while to digest and integrate into your thought patterns. In fact, it was a painful headache for me to understand,  master and move on from. I think it might of helped the reader more if the concept was visualized right from the start. So if you are going to read this book, I strongly suggest you view the Heath Brother’s website for the helpful visual aid in PDF format¹ or go to page 259 in the hardcover edition, before you start reading.

This book is much along the same line of design format as Seth Godin ‘s (Purple Cow, Linchpin)  books. The elements are explained first through company stories or individual’s tales of progress, achievement and success.

My takeaways from reading this book are design and and present your change ideas from a positive perspective, be sure to  look first at what is working, understand what your people are seeking in terms of feelings,  and most importantly break things down into small doable pieces along the way.

This book also has a nice little section on the value of checklists. The checklists are presented in story form, but for professional organizers, productivity coaches and consultants these stories may be easily transferable examples extolling the benefits of using a checklist.

One of my favorite story examples from Switch is the tale of the 21 year old forestry conservation adviser who by small actions, made amazing change in the population of an island parrot species. This particular tale was inspiring and the most thought provoking for me. You will have to read the book to get that story. So, I urge you to go out and read Switch, and maybe you will find your ability to make substantial change happen in your life or in others.

1) Click here for the PDF  outline format at the Heath brother’s website.

You might also enjoy reading my previous pre-review on Linchpin.

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Time to write it down!

The Wall Street Journal just had an interesting article about “To Do Lists”. I agree that To Do Lists are the action activators. As important in my mind are The Project List and The Goals List.  A Project List keeps track of what projects you are working on or intend to work on. The Goal List is the big picture of everything. Since it is time for resolutions, I want to encourage you to take time to write down your goals.  All in all,  I believe the most important thing we can do to start goal resolution keeping is explained in three simple words – Write It Down!  By taking the time to write it down we can have a record of our thoughts, planned actions and desires.  We can then track, make changes or reevaluate.

In early 1983  I read the book, Making Time, Making Money (St. Martin’s Press) by Rita Davenport. This book had a thirty page workbook built-in which was aptly titled Exercises that Make You a Time Management Winner. From time to time I pull out the book and see how I have succeeded and how I have diverted from some of my earlier goals. After all life is a journey and sometimes we change our destinations.

Having a record of your desires is the first step on that journey. How are you planning to write it down?

This is a modified post from January 2010.

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Inspiration – Can’t we just buy some?

Don’t you often want to buy a can of inspiration? I find when I can’t easily put A and B together, I want to go out and buy a ready-made can of inspiration to get instant results.

To get inspired we can work on change. Change can be internal such as our perspective, our attitudes and of course our daily outlook. Change can be physical by trying out a new environment, working on a new routine or going about things in a different way. We can attend workshops, conferences, lectures to get inspired. We can visit blogs, read books, internet media sites or watch inspiring thinkers explain their work such as in a TED conference.

What do you do to get inspired?

Paint Can Graphic from The Department of Doing – New Zealand

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