Books to Boost Success
AUTHOR: GENELLA MACINTYRE
There are a lot of stress management books, websites and apps out there. However, if you’re looking for a very practical approach, you may wish to consider picking up a copy of Genella Macintyre’s book. Macintyre takes a hands-on, educational approach that is neither highly theoretical nor back-to-basics. She strikes just the right balance between the science and the practice. Her five steps include a primer on: understanding stress (Too much? Too little? What happens to your brain and body?), recognizing stress, managing the external environment, managing your internal environment and then taking action.
Perhaps my favourite section of her book is the chapter on your external environment. All around us are things that might cause us stress. Other models would encourage you to change your mindset, reframe and adapt. Macintyre encourages us to make changes to our external environment as needed. For example, don’t go to that family gathering if you know you will end up fighting with your brother-in-law because he’s a drunk idiot! Or, if it bothers you that your partner’s belongings end up all over the house, wasting precious time each morning due to the ensuing search-and-rescue, then get a basket or a shelf and help your partner put everything in one place. She also stresses the importance of taking care of the little things. Clean the closet, buy the shelving unit, talk to the difficult coworker, ask to be removed from the committee. Whatever it is that you’re dreading, just do it already. Get it out of your head and off your stress list. Everyone has stress — sometimes we have too much. Macintyre’s steps can help. Try them.
AUTHORS: LESLEY TAYLOR
There has been a surge in the marketplace since Susan Cain came out with her book, Quiet, in 2012. All of a sudden, seemingly overnight, it became acceptable — even desirable — to be introverted. Wharton professor, Adam Grant, has noted that from one year to the next, the number of students in his class, saying that they were introverted rose significantly due to the powerful influence of this book. Now, many other authors are tackling the subject. Canadian leadership coach, Lesley Taylor, shows, in compelling fashion, how introverts can be fabulous leaders, and should not underestimate themselves. Taylor’s book takes a coach approach, encouraging introverts to find their life’s purpose and share their passion. She ties in numerous solid models, such as Jim Collins’s “Level 5 Leadership”, the Thomas-Kilman Conflict Inventory and Peter Senge’s work on personal mastery — applying all of this to introverts. Taylor ends with a call to action for introverts to share their strengths, come together and create supportive communities that allow everyone to shine. If you are feeling alone as an introvert, don’t wait for this book (or any other book on introversion) to arrive in the mail. There are other introverts nearby — though they may be hard to distinguish, since many introverts have become skilled at acting like extroverts in order to be noticed, establish a personal brand and succeed in their field. Remember that introverts exist in every endeavour and career. Find them, and together you’ll be stronger.
AUTHOR: DAN PONTEFRACT
Dan Pontefract might be well-known for his book, Flat Army, but I believe he really outdoes himself with The Purpose Effect. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and meaningful read about three different types of purpose: personal, organizational and role-based. Pontefract discusses the purpose of purpose, and shares many entertaining stories (including his own) about finding purpose and how this motivates and inspires people to greater achievement and well-being.
Pontefract draws on a large body of research around employee engagement, organizational development and psychology to show why we should work to uncover our purpose in these three areas. I often find the case studies in business books to be anywhere from neutral to annoying, especially when it comes to organizational case studies — just because something works at Corporation XYZ doesn’t mean that it will work at your organization. The cultures, industries, leadership styles, etc., may simply be too different. However, I found Pontefract’s stories of individuals who discovered their purpose — and are working in alignment with their purpose — to be inspirational and meaningful. Everyone seemed to have a very different path, which encourages the reader to validate and honour their own path as well.
When it comes to finding purpose, I’m worried that organizations are still bumping up against the same old roadblocks. Enabling the pursuit of purpose requires an enlightened leader who is willing to manage organizational culture directly, and that is a rare leader these days (although “everyone” acknowledges the need for such a leader). Thankfully, you don’t have to wait for your organization — you can start with you. Discover your purpose and enter into alignment with it. See where you can go — and grow — from there.
AUTHOR: JAMES REED
A friend of mine was on the job search a few years ago, and would regale me with stories of her awful interviews. Not because of anything she did, but because the interviewers were so horrible and, in some cases, outright illegal. She was asked if she was married, if she had children, and other personal questions that no interviewer should ask. You would never think that you would have to prepare for these sorts of questions — employers should know better — but Reed’s book reveals these murky backwaters of interview questions, stating in no uncertain terms that these questions are illegal. Fortunately, Reed also takes on other matters which are more above-board, like how to prepare for interviews, why interviewers ask all those strange questions, and how to follow up after the interview.
If you are looking for a one-stop interview coaching shop, this book could be it. Reed breaks down interview questions into several categories: the “Fateful 15” that you are very likely to encounter, career goal questions, character questions, competency questions and curveball/creativity questions. With each of the 101 job interview questions (yes, there are 101 of them), Reed tells you what the “real question” is (no, they don’t really care what specific animal you would be if you could be any animal) and gives you a winning tactic to answering them (roll with the punches and have fun — there are very few wrong answers). Highly practical, informative and straight forward, this handbook could help you be more confident and stand out at your next interview.