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7 Timeless Books on Leadership, Business, Change, Happiness, Decisions, Presence and Future

This weekend I went for a book fair at my local library. I bought some enjoyable books which I had read earlier but all of these are timeless classics that has stood the test of time. You might be interested in a few of them. Here are 7 timeless books which will remain in my […]

This weekend I went for a book fair at my local library. I bought some enjoyable books which I had read earlier but all of these are timeless classics that has stood the test of time. You might be interested in a few of them. Here are 7 timeless books which will remain in my library for decades,

The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha – The premise of the book is first be happy then you will do your work even better and can be more successful. This is a good suggestion as it tells us not to pursue the if-then model of success. If I get this, then I will be happy or if I get this promotion I will be happy. Maybe we can decide to be happy and then go for success. Only 10% of our happiness depends on circumstances at least according to some research. Of course, some of us might be going through real tribulations and not all of life is created equal. However, this book is positive and a good addition to the happiness literature. I have come up with my own happiness project. It is accepting yourself as you are, going after your goals and just liking life for what it is. Check out this article. My Happiness Project.

Good to Great by Jim Collins – I have read this more times than I can count. I found the principles to be solid. It can be argued that some of the companies in that study are no longer great. The interesting analogy the author says is exercise is good and if you are fit for a time it works. However, the same fit person if he or she stops exercise then they are not fit. However, exercise works but the individual can always fall of the bandwagon. The Level 5 leadership concept was my favorite. The great leaders were all about professional will and personal humility. They looked out the window to give credit when things go well and looked in the mirror to take responsibility when things go wrong. The other good one was the hedgehog concept. There are three circles you should consider what can you be the best in, what are you passionate about and what provides an economic indicator. Here is my review of the book.Go for Greatness.

Executive Presence by Sylvia Ann Hewlett – This is an informative book which explains the need for gravitas. This basically means you give importance to your appearance and how you show up. This is all about having charisma. EP is a measure of your image whether you can signal to others that you have star material. There is also discussion on communication and appearance. Pretty practical tips here.

Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath – This is really a good one on how to make change work. We all have the elephant and rider in our system. Elephant is the emotional side and rider is the analytical side. Both have their needs and change can only work if you balance those. One of the methods is to direct the rider meaning unless you give crystal clear directions it won’t work. Make your goals clear. At the same you need to feel the feelings and motivate the elephant. One concept I liked is the bright spots idea. In any bleak situation there are still things that are working, and the key is to identify that and clone it in the places that are not working.

Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath – Same authors and different problem to solve. This is an excellent book for all of us to make better decisions. A lot of our life success is based on the decisions we make. Here is their formula for making good decisions. First is to Widen your options. For example, if you must make an expensive purchase of stereo set for 5000 dollars. You can say Don’t spend 5000 dollars and keep it for savings. Second is to reality test your assumptions. Third is to attain distance before deciding. Finally prepare to be wrong. One example is that of Andy Grove when he had to make a tough decision. All he did was if a new CEO comes what would he do. With that question he got all his answers.

21 lessons for the 21st century by Yuval Noah Harari: If you have read Homo Deus there is some repetition here. He also doesn’t really offer any clear pathway forward and it could be argued that no one else has as well. There is a lot of talk about AI and how none of our jobs are safe from automation. He also dwells into religion, terrorism and so many topics across the board. Last chapter he talks about meditation. The main takeaway is to keep reinventing yourself all the time. The key question is even if universal basic income is provided and we don’t need to work for money what humans will do to find meaning. I tried to answer this question with this article. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-humans-should-do-find-meaning-when-robots-take-shyam/

Leadership in Turbulent times by Doris Kearns Goodwin: This is one of the best books on leadership you will ever read. 4 leaders Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson are dissected right from their childhood through their adversity to their leadership philosophy. This is truly a tour de force. I loved the last section which has great leadership tips for all of us. Some of these types of books can be dry to read but this is so engaging I couldn’t put it down. The big takeaway is they persisted well beyond any personal setbacks. In fact, one of the examples provided is Lincoln’s friends had to hide sharp objects from his room because he could hurt himself. Theodore Roosevelt lost his wife and mother on the same day. It is an inspiring account of what true leadership is in times of crisis. Abraham Lincoln stood for transformation leadership. Some of the things he did well were gather firsthand information, acknowledge when failed policies demand a change, and exhaust all possibility of compromise before imposing executive power. Theodore Roosevelt stood for crisis management. Some of the things he did were to calculate risks of getting involved, use history to provide perspective, and be ready to grapple with reversals. Franklin Roosevelt stood for turnaround leadership. Some of the things he did were draw a demarcation between what has gone before and what is about to begin and strike balance between realism and optimism. Lyndon Johnson stood for visionary leadership. Some of the things he did were make a dramatic start, lead with your strength and master power of narrative.

Check out these books and they are surely going to stand the test of time. The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.

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