I start each new year with a question: What book are you reading now? My experience is the best leaders always have a book they are reading. Lifelong learning is essential to our growth.
But how do you nurture book reading in those who do not enjoy reading. For those in education, we lead by example. We share our stories, the role books have played in our lives. As parents, we read to our children. My Aunt Bertha Anne read to me in my very early years and nurtured my love of books.
What role do books play in your life? In your learning? My guess is that for many, we just don’t have enough time. Making time to read books is important. I usually have several books in my study that I am working through. On long trips I enjoy audiobooks. I have friends who like audiobooks best. Currently the audio version of my book Decoding the Workplace is outpacing the other formats.
2020 was different in that I did not read as wide a variety of books as I usually do. Two books about Abraham Maslow captured much of my attention. Personality & Growth: A Humanistic Psychologist in the Classroom by Abraham Maslow is fascinating for those who enjoy reading Maslow and about Maslow. This book consist mostly of complete transcripts of a Maslow course taught at Brandeis 1963-64 including student discussions. Rich insights for those of us interested in everything Maslow but probably less so for most people. I reviewed this book for the Journal of Humanistic Psychology.
Transcend by Scott Barry Kaufman offers a reinterpretation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs supported by contemporary research. While I found interesting, I would have enjoyed editing. For me there were at least two books in this one volume: (1) A book about Maslow's hierarchy of needs and how his theory might be changed based on his thinking in his latter years. (2) A book that is about helping oneself grow and develop, a self-help book. On page 80 Scott discusses the audience for his book, those who "truly wish to self-actualize -- and even transcend." A good suggestion for your local library if they don't have it.
As I work on my next career-oriented book, I am revisiting the extensive library of leadership or leader development books. I think Jeffrey Pfeffer sums up much of the leadership literature in his book Leadership BS. A welcome addition this year was Ron Riggio's Daily Leadership Development, which I blogged about in October.
As we begin 2021, here are a few of the books I am reading or are on my reading list:
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- How to Lead: Wisdom from the World's Greatest CEOs, Founders, and Game Changers by David Rubenstein
- The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
- Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clark, and the Making of a Masterpiece by Michael Benson
- The Apricot and the Moon Poems by Cathryn Essinger
- Rethinking Consciousness edited by John Buchanan and Christopher Aantoss
- Face It by Debbie Harry
“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them”, Mark Twain.
Or as the comedian Groucho Marx said, “Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.”
What are you reading?
Image, my photo.
© John Ballard, PhD, 2021. All rights reserved.
Decoding the Workplace “deals with principles and practices that are timeless . . . Is this a must-have for managers and would-be managers? Yes.” Academy of Management Learning & Education, June, 2018. Now also available as an audiobook and paperback.