It’s hard to be inspired when it takes 15-minutes to dig the car out of the driveway or the temperature sinks lower than your spirits. It’s equally hard to really get down to work in the first days of summer, when the patio is practically screaming your name.
Springtime may mean March Break or reading week for students, but for the rest of us, the in-between season is a great time to give renewed energy to all the resolutions you made for the year, and to channel some of that spring fever into fervor for the projects piling up at work.
We’ve pulled together some books that are guaranteed to re-ignite your ambition for a hard sprint before a well-earned summer holiday.
THE CULTURE CODE by Daniel Coyle is a look at what makes for a great corporate culture – meaning, one where people feel valued and where good work gets done. The thing is, many of the ideas within this book would be equally effective in the rest of your life, too.
The author looked at all kinds of groups – observing why kindergartners were better than MBA students at solving a problem as a group; at top ranking sports teams and their coaches; at successful businesses like Zappos and Pixar. He looked at how pilots work together; he studied a gang of jewel thieves. He was able to define what makes a group – or a relationship – work.
Coyle’s theory is that great teamwork depends on establishing safety, sharing experience, and then sharing vulnerability in order to build trust. Big corporations aren’t excellent because people are running around being corporate – they become excellent if they are human, if the leader can admit vulnerability or mistakes, and the team has faith their ideas will be heard.
As an added bonus, it’s fascinating to read about how three pilots averted a plane crash, why a basketball team consistently wins, or how Pixar makes such great movies.
BIG MAGIC – Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (who also wrote Eat, Pray, Love if you are looking for a life-coach type of book) isn’t exactly a business book, but it will help you give yourself the freedom to follow your passion.
It’s about tapping into your own creativity and curiosity, and intends to help readers live a creative life – if you always had a dream to write a book, this is the book to help with that; if your dream is to be a better baker, it will help with that, too. In a nutshell, the idea is that we all have creativity and it should be expressed. It's neither selfish, nor silly, and is the best way to live a satisfying life.
THE FOUR TENDENCIES by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project (also excellent by the way), is based on how each of us responds to expectation. Understanding if a deadline makes you want to finish a project a day ahead of time or immediately leave for Hawaii is really important, in that you can be sabotaging yourself out of instinct rather than design. The book will help you learn how to game your own system in order to achieve the things you need to do.
“Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding this framework lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively with other people,” Rubin told Forbes magazine. “Just as important, we can use the Four Tendencies to deal more effectively with others...The Four Tendencies hold practical answers if you've ever asked yourself, 'Why do people tell me that I ask too many questions?' or 'How do I work with someone who refuses to do what I ask—or one who keeps telling me what to do?'”
Each of these books is helpful but also fun to read, so they are exactly like this season – in between work and play.