There is no more sure-fire way to get better at doing your job than by some strategic reading of books, magazines and blogs in your professional area. The cost? Nothing, as long as you have a library card and an internet connection.
For those of you whose idea of reading is pretty much limited to what shows up in your daily feeds let me help get you started. Here are 3 things to keep in mind when reading for career development.
1. Cast a wide net: We live in an age of information. Search far and wide for the best material. Ask those a bit higher up the food chain than you who they read. You’ll be surprised by how willing people are to share writers they value.
2. Be intentional: However, just because there are thousands of voices, that doesn’t mean all of them are worthy of your time. Search your profession on Amazon and look at the top ten best sellers. These are the books people in your area are reading and talking about, so start there .
3. Make it part of your schedule: If you are really going to get the most out of your professional reading you need to be sure it is a regular, non-negotiable, part of your week. If you need some motivation to kick-start the habit I suggest penciling in 20 minutes, Monday through Friday for professional reading.
Below is a list of the books that I have gotten solid value out of. Use some of these as a starting place if you are looking for a reading list to level up your own career.
Elastic Habits: Good Habits That Adapt to Your Day by Stephen Guise. A traditional habit is unchanging: the same behavior is done at the same time to the same level every day. It works well until the pressures of modern life break its rigid and brittle shell. Elastic habits are fluid: they can change their form and intensity to suit each unique day. They survive busy, tired, bad days. They thrive in better days.
The Simplicity Principle: Six Steps Towards Clarity in a Complex World by Julia Hobsbawm. complexity doesn’t have to dominate, complicate or clutter our lives. Based on a hexagonal model, this book shows you that it’s easy to streamline and simplify both your professional and personal lives with lessons based on the natural world.
How to Live on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett. This timeless classic is one of the first self-help books ever written and was a best-seller in both England and America. It remains as useful today as when it was written, and offers fresh and practical advice on how to make the most of the daily miracle of life.
Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life by Zena Hitz. Today, when even the humanities are often defended only for their economic or political usefulness, Hitz says our intellectual lives are valuable not despite but because of their practical uselessness. And while anyone can have an intellectual life, she encourages academics in particular to get back in touch with the desire to learn for its own sake, and calls on universities to return to the person-to-person transmission of the habits of mind and heart that bring out the best in us.
How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius by Donald J. Robertson. In How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, cognitive psychotherapist Donald Robertson weaves the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius together seamlessly to provide a compelling modern-day guide to the Stoic wisdom followed by countless individuals throughout the centuries as a path to achieving greater fulfillment and emotional resilience.
Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals by Michael Hyatt. In Your Best Year Ever, Hyatt shares a powerful, proven, research-driven system for setting and achieving goals. Readers learn how to design their best year ever in just five hours.
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. Simon Sinek is an optimist, a visionary thinker, and a leader of the cultural revolution of WHY. His second book is the natural extension of Start with Why, expanding his ideas at the organizational level. Determining a company’s WHY is crucial, but only the beginning. The next step is how do you get people on board with your WHY? How do you inspire deep trust and commitment to the company and one another?
Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo. In his book, Carmine Gallo has broken down hundreds of TED talks and interviewed the most popular TED presenters, as well as the top researchers in the fields of psychology, communications, and neuroscience to reveal the nine secrets of all successful TED presentations. Gallo’s step-by-step method makes it possible for anyone to deliver a presentation that is engaging, persuasive, and memorable.
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman. In this eloquent, persuasive book, Neil Postman alerts us to the real and present dangers of this state of affairs, and offers compelling suggestions as to how to withstand the media onslaught. Before we hand over politics, education, religion, and journalism to the show business demands of the television age, we must recognize the ways in which the media shape our lives and the ways we can, in turn, shape them to serve out highest goals.