The Reading Room

Mindfulness & Character Strengths – A Practical Guide To Flourishing

Filed in The Reading Room by on November 5, 2013 0 Comments

By Ryan M. Niemiec 

Image of the front cover of Mindfulness & Character StrengthsMindfulness and strengths are two of my favourite things so I was delighted to discover this book by Ryan M. Niemiec which explores the synergy between the two and describes Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (MBSP).  It is an excellent book for anybody interested in mindfulness and the VIA character strengths but particularly practitioners and teachers who want to run their own MBSP classes.

The basic premise behind MBSP is that by integrating mindfulness with character strengths you can positively impact your health and well-being and experience better relationships with those around you.  The way this is done is by adopting “strong mindfulness” and “mindful strengths use,”

Strong mindfulness means that you enhance your mindfulness practice by connecting with your strengths.   Continue Reading »

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Emotional Intelligence

Filed in The Reading Room by on November 1, 2013 1 Comment

By Daniel Goleman

Image of front cover of book Emotional Intelligence

 

This book is one of those books that I have been meaning to read for ever but somehow never got around to and I am so glad that I can now finally tick it off the list.  I thought I knew what emotional intelligence was, however, I understand now that I had only a small part of the picture.

Previously, I had always thought of emotional intelligence in terms of my ability to understand how I and those around me were feeling.  I regarded it as something that you were either good at or you weren’t.  Now, having read Goleman’s book I understand that it is so much more complex than this.  Emotional intelligence is not just one thing but a collection of things: (1) Self-awareness, knowing what you are feeling and using it to guide the choices you make ; (2) managing your emotions so that you remain in control of your thoughts and behaviour; Continue Reading »

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Maverick!

Filed in The Reading Room by on September 23, 2013 0 Comments

By Ricardo Semler

Picture of author Ricardo SemlerIf there’s one time I can’t resist reading a book it’s when somebody says that reading it changed their life.  I feel compelled to rush out immediately and get it so that I too can share in its life-changing wisdom.  I have yet to find a book that has had the same effect on me as it had on the one recommending it, however, I live in hope.  So it was inevitable that when Henry Stewart of Happy Ltd uttered those words in his book,  “The Happy Manifesto”, about “Maverick” that I would read it.

True to form I can’t say that it changed my life, however, it was a really interesting read and I would certainly recommend it both to those who are interested in applying principles of positive psychology to the workplace and to dissenters who do not believe it is possible to create a commercially successful business unless profit is king.

Ricardo Semler took over  Semco,  a Brazilian company, from his father in 1980 and has transformed it from a company run on a traditional command and control management style into an organisation which places employee participation and democracy at its very heart.  This transformation is all the more incredible when you taken into account the corruption, rampant inflation and the stranglehold of the unions on Brazilian industry during this time. Continue Reading »

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Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action

Filed in The Reading Room by on September 8, 2013 0 Comments

Picture of Simon Sinek holding book Start with WhyBy Simon Sinek

The central theme of this book is that the most successful companies are those that remain focused on why they exist rather than focusing on what they do and how they do it.  This is what Sinek refers to as the golden circle – why is kept at the centre of everything that is done and it is the why that informs what is done and how it is done.  The much quoted example that he gives is Apple whose reason for being is to challenge the status quo.  Hence the Mac, ipod, itunes and iphones all very different products but all challenging the way things were previously done.

The benefit of this approach, he argues, is that it builds brand loyalty and consumers will pay a premium to purchase that product or service because the “why” taps into the emotional centre of the buyer’s brain.  This is contrary to the approach of most organisations who market their products and services on the basis of what they do and how they do it – the standard features and benefits approach.  The problem with this Sinek argues is that it doesn’t build brand loyalty but rather encourages sales through price manipulation and there is always another company which is prepared to offer more for less. Continue Reading »

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The Effective Executive – Peter F. Drucker

Filed in The Reading Room by on September 3, 2013 0 Comments

Blueeffective-executiveThis is one of the management classics and deservedly so.  Although, it was originally published in 1967, there is still much which is relevant today particularly his emphasis on the importance of strengths.  In fact it was the oft-quoted “to make strength productive is the unique purpose of organization” that led me to seek out the book in the first place.  Most research into strengths has been done since the 1990s so Drucker was well ahead of his time when he saw that strengths development was the way to align and make compatible individual achievement and organizational performance.

Drucker believed that effectiveness was something that could be learned although not taught.  It’s a habit that needs to be cultivated.  How do you do this?   Manage your time, know your priorities, build on strength and continually think about what you can contribute.

It’s written in a no-nonsense style with plenty of examples and can easily be read in a few days.  I have given it a score of 3/5 in recognition of the fact that the context of the book is the 1960s and many of the references relate to that period.  However, I think the theory underpinning this book is as relevant today as it was then.

Score 3/5

 

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Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking

Filed in The Reading Room by on August 20, 2013 0 Comments

Picture of the front cover Quiet the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talkingAuthor – Susan Cain

I first came across Susan Cain when I saw her Ted Talk – The Power of Introverts and was so compelled by what she was saying I went out and bought the book.  As an introvert myself it was refreshing to read the evidence highlighting the benefits to both the individual and society of the quieter approach.  As usual the answer is not that one is better than the other they are different ends of a continum. The important thing is to be comfortable with who you are be it introvert or extrovert and to take the time to understand the “other”.  As we can all benefit from exposure to the “other”.

Cain has a good, clear writing style which is not 0ver-burdened by too many references in the text, however, they are all there in the notes so you can follow-up on any specific areas of interest.  For further information visit Susan Cain’s website.

Rating – 4/5

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