Book Notes

Book Notes: It Worked for Me

I hope you have problems.

That’s a good thing, really.  A book I read recently cast a whole new light on what it means to have problems as a leader, and what you should do about them.

Today we’ll talk about why having problems can be good, and how you can handle them in a way that will significantly strengthen your ability to influence and lead others.


Book Notes: Bunker Hill – Right Vision, Wrong Goal

Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbrick was a thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish.  If you like historical non-fiction that reads like a novel, this is a great one to add to your library.

Aside from telling the fascinating story of the events leading up to the American Revolution, there was something near the end that really got my attention.  It was how George Washington took command of the colonial army, and nearly destroyed it in his first engagement.

What he learned during this time set the stage for his future success as a commander.  And from his actions, we can learn a great lesson about vision and wisdom that will make us all better leaders.


Great Reads in Leadership for Fall 2016

Abraham Lincoln once said that if he had six hours to chop down a tree, he would spend the first four sharpening his ax.  More recently, personal development expert Stephen Covey has said that “sharpening your saw” is a critical part of becoming better at your craft.

One of the best ways you can continue to sharpen your tools is to read.  By absorbing the experiences and lessons of others, you can become a better leader in your own right.

Here is a list of ten of my personal favorites that I think you will find enjoyable, helpful, and even inspirational for you on your own leadership journey.  Enjoy what I believe are some great reads in leadership!


Sea of Glory – The 7 Habits of the Highly Insecure Leader

Lacking confidence in your leadership?  Are you an insecure leader?  Sometimes the things we are tempted to do to compensate for insecurity are the worst options, as Lieutenant Wilkes, United States Navy, found out the hard way in 1838.  Here’s what happened, and how you can avoid these seven deadly habits to build the confidence you need.


Book Notes: “Chains of Command” in Jamestown

Unity of command is crucial for the success of an organization, yet the colonists settling Jamestown seemed to be actually trying to make it hard on themselves.  In fact, the colony nearly failed several times as a result of their strange approach to establishing leadership.  Here’s what they did, and what we can learn from them so that our own teams are focused and productive.


Book Notes: The Right Kind of Crazy

“How do you build a close-knit innovative team under high pressure?”
Imagine being put in charge of leading a team to do something that man has never been done before.  You have about ten people with widely differing backgrounds and personalities to work with.  You have tight budgetary limitations, a rapidly shrinking timeline and high expectations from top management.  Now add national media attention just to make it fun.

That’s the situation that Adam Steltzner describes in his book, “The Right Kind of Crazy: A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership, and High-Stakes Innovation.”  His task was to land a rover the size of a car on a planet millions of miles away.  Today we’ll look at some of the successful leadership secrets he learns along the way that you can use in leading your team, even if you aren’t building an interplanetary spaceship.


Book Notes: Natural Born Heroes

What kind of person does it take to kidnap a Nazi General?
That’s the question that Christopher McDougal asked when he wrote Natural Born Heroes. In an epic but little known story from World War II, Greek resistance fighters on the island of Crete were able to pull off this amazing feat in the capitol city right under the noses of the Gestapo.  And in the process they dealt a major blow to German forces there.

The impetus and leadership came from British agents on the island.  But who were these agents and how did they pull it off? And what are the implications for the rest of us?  Could you or I do something like this?


Book Notes: Better Than Before

I am a triathlete in remission.  After scores of races since 1999, and thousands of hours of training, there are no races on my calendar this year.  None last year, either.  And yet, three times a week, at 4:45 AM the alarm goes off, I get up, drive to the local YMCA and swim back and forth in the cool chlorinated water of the pool for about 50 minutes.

Swimming is my least favorite of the three disciplines, and getting in cold water in the middle of winter is not normally my idea of a party. Why am I still swimming when running is much simpler and cycling more fun?

Habit, I guess.


Book Notes: The One Thing

“If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one. ”
                                               – Russian Proverb
That’s how Gary Keller’s The ONE Thing opens up.  Even before the first paragraph, title page, table of contents, or anything else, these are the first words of the book.  From the very beginning, its focus is clear.  And that’s part of what makes this book so good – it models what Keller is talking about.


Book Notes: The Slow Fix

In the 2011 Grand Prix Formula One race in Monaco, Lewis Hamilton’s car collided with another racer.  There was damage to the rear wing end plate of his car.  Under any other circumstances, his racing day would have been over.  Changing tires during a pit stop is one thing, but repairing something more complicated like this takes more time.

But Hamilton got lucky.  Because of debris from another wreck, officials had to suspend the race in order to clear the course.  And in the few minutes it took, Hamilton’s pit crew sprinted out to the track, assessed the damage, determined the best fix, and made their repairs.

When the officials restarted the race a few minutes later, Hamilton was ready to rejoin.