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One Year in Joy and Purposeful Reading
5 books that positively affected my learning, growing, and thriving in 2022.
I can’t do wi’ knowin’ so many things besides my work. That’s what brings folks to the gallows, — knowin’ everything but what they’n got to get their bread by.
Books. They are everywhere.
Yet, the majority of us never have or create the time to swim or even drink from this endless stream of abundance.
But, reading can only carry you so far and no further. There come such times when "overreading" could be counterproductive.
Why is this so?
Because, it's so easy for compulsive readers to get drowned in books while missing out on the opportunities to learn, grow and profit from their new knowledge.
Determined to avoid this pitfall, my approach to treading has been deliberate, slow, and contemplative. So far, I’ve crossed out 26 titles. And I’m still counting. One book at a time.
Here are snippets from my favorite 2022 reads.
1. The Allure of Toxic Leaders - Marie Lipman-Blumen
The Allure of Toxic Leaders answered my question — Why do many rational people find themselves enthralled in the deadly embrace or followership of toxic leaders?
With the complexities of the world as we know it, don’t know it, and perhaps can never know it, we shall understand one another and ourselves better by seeing the world, from time to time, through one another’s spectacles.
A toxic leader may first emerge as our savior, vanquishing our enemies — be they our business competitors, a faltering economy, our political opponents, or our global neighbors. Only later do we realize that the leader is using the same power, unchecked, against our associates, our friends, our families, and eventually us.
As we so realize our own capacity for darkness, the need to annihilate the other will disappear. Seeing the common humanity we share with others will help us to break out of the we/they dichotomy which toxic leaders manipulate to spark cohesion among their own followers and bind them to their leaders.
~ Professor Marie Lipman-Blumen
2. Not God's Type - Holly Ordway
In Not God's Type, Professor Holly Ordway recounted her transformation from a staunch atheist to her belief in God Almighty, and then converted to Christianity, first as a Protestant and then to Roman Catholicism.
My favorite from the book is her take on "perfect justice or perfect mercy".
It was getting on toward two o’clock in the morning. I had just one more question I had to ask.
“OK,” I said, “you believe in God. I don’t. When I die, what do you think is going to happen to me?”
I’m not sure what prompted me to ask that question. I think I was pushing the limits a bit, seeing if I could provoke a response that would fit my stereotypes of Christians, since absolutely nothing of the night’s conversation had been what I’d expected.
He said, “I’d rather not answer that question.”
I was surprised, and I recognized that I was getting more respect than I probably deserved: he preferred to say nothing rather than water down his response to make it more palatable for me. Suddenly I genuinely did want to hear the answer. “No, really, I want to know what you think.”
“Well,” he said, “I believe that we will come before God in judgment, and he will give each person either perfect justice or perfect mercy.”
I sat in silence thinking about this for a moment. Slowly, I said, “And you believe that it would be better for me to know enough, beforehand, to ask for perfect mercy?”
“Yes, I do.”
And that was all he said. Perfect justice or perfect mercy. At that dim morning hour, and again as I thought about it later, I recognized something important: I didn’t want justice. I considered myself a ‘good person’, but in my heart I was afraid to be judged on the real self behind my outward image.
Perfect justice was terrifying. . . and yet, completely fair. It wasn’t that God would punish me for not believing in him. It was that he would dispense to me exactly what I deserved.
Or perfect mercy. Not condescension, not humiliation, but mercy. I recognized that if there was a God, I would rather have mercy than justice.
~Professor Holly Ordway
3. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Greatest Challenges - Amy Cuddy
Often, your body language is so deafening that your audience can't hear your possibly world-changing or business-transforming offerings and ideas. Professor Amy Cuddy teaches how you can bring your best to bear every opportunity that life offers you.
This book teaches you how to create wholesome first impressions and to project yourself with a passion so others will become persuaded to key in to our proposals or sales pitches.
For the overly self-conscious, this book can help you overcome your real or perceived inadequacies.
It doesn’t stop there. Entrepreneurs’ grounded enthusiasm is contagious, stimulating a high level of commitment, confidence, passion, and performance in the people who work for and with them. On the other hand, entrepreneurs and job candidates who don’t convey these qualities are usually judged to be less confident and believable, less effective communicators, and, ultimately, poorer performers
There’s another reason we tend to put our faith in people who project passion, confidence, and enthusiasm: these traits can’t easily be faked. When we’re feeling brave and confident, our vocal pitch and amplitude are significantly more varied, allowing us to sound expressive and relaxed.
When we try to fake confidence or enthusiasm, other people can tell that something is off, even if they can’t precisely articulate what that thing is. In fact, when job applicants try too hard to make a good impression through nonverbal tactics such as forced smiles, it can backfire—interviewers dismiss them as phony and manipulative.
What I’m saying here is that first impressions based on the qualities of enthusiasm, passion, and confidence might actually be quite sound—precisely because they’re so hard to fake. When you are not present, people can tell. When you are, people respond.
Professor Amy Cuddy
4. Genius in The Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb
Leo Szilard (Szilard means “Solid”) was a Hungarian American physicist and inventor who first conceived the idea of a nuclear reactor in 1934. As a Jew facing persecution during Adolf Hitler’s Nazi reign, he, along with many other physicists, fled from Germany to America.
Presciently, convinced of Adolf Hitler’s evils if Germany had developed the atomic bomb first, he, along with other physicists, persuaded the American government to commit to nuclear research and the creation of the atomic bomb.
After the war, he dedicated his life to championing the control and eradication of nuclear weapons until his death in 1964.
Lead your life with a gentle hand and be ready to leave whenever you are called.
It is not necessary to succeed in order to persevere. As long as there is a margin of hope, however narrow, we have no choice but to base all our actions on that margin.
What he did see at that fateful intersection were two concepts needed to free the energy locked in the atom: the “nuclear chain reaction” and the “critical mass” needed to set off and sustain it.
Szilard quickly seized the implications: “In certain circumstances it might become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction, liberate energy on an industrial scale, and construct atomic bombs.
~ Leo Szilard (1898–1964)
5. Start Now Get Perfect Later — Rob Moore
Author Rob Moore expanded on the futility of chasing perfection. The better option is to start now and get better later.
The author showed how decisiveness, and acting on what you already know you ought to do or be doing, can set you free — unstucked.
This book will teach you how to stop waiting to be perfect before you start. In the long run, you are best served by your willingness to learn and grow. Continuous learning leads to growth, excellence, and success.
The paradoxical void many people get stuck in is the void between the comfortable known and the uncomfortable unknown. The comfortable known is safe, but all resourcefulness and creativity is latent and suppressed.
The uncomfortable unknown is a bit scary, you don’t feel ready, it’s daunting, but that’s where all your untapped infinite resources are stored ready and waiting.Click here to view the complete list.
It takes just as much energy to commit as it does to give up. It takes as much energy to stop and start and stop and start as it does to push through some challenges and stay committed.
©Lipman-Blumen, Jean, The Allure of Toxic Leaders: Why We Follow Destructive Bosses and Corrupt Politicians — and How We Can Survive Them. New York, USA: Oxford University Press, 2005
©Holly Ordway, Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms, Ignatius Press, 2014
©Amy Cuddy, Presence Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, Hachette Book Group Inc, 2015
©William Lanouette and Silard Bela, Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the man Behind the Bomb, Skyhorse Publishing, 2013
©Rob Moore, Start Now Get Perfect Later; John Murray Learning, 2018
Thank you for reading.
Click here to view my complete 2022 reading list. Google Docs
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