Resiliency, culture and belonging for hard times

Resiliency Books

What have you learned since we last met? –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Five years from now you will be the same as today but for the people you meet and the books you read.  –Stanley “Tremendous” Jones

Lately, my reading keeps coming back to the themes of resiliency, culture, and belonging.  Here are a dozen books to help us survive and thrive in times that are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA).  Big ideas: listen more, tell less, and grow strong cultures of relationship and trust.

The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth by Amy C. Edmondson  | Nov 14, 2018

Psychological safety is the key to team and organization success.  The author provides multiple examples of how to drive fear out of an organization and benefit from employee engagement and creativity.

Tempered Resilience: How Leaders Are Formed in the Crucible of Change (Tempered Resilience Set) by Tod Bolsinger | Nov 10, 2020

I haven’t finished this one yet, but Canoeing the Mountains was a winner.  Here he builds on the idea of tempered steel being forged in the heat of crisis.  Good thinker.  Entertaining writer.  Writes from a faith perspective.

You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When It Matters Most
by Leonard J. Marcus, Eric J. McNulty , et al. | Mar 16, 2021

As long as we are in pandemic mode, I’ll keep recommending You’re IT.  It is all about managing well in crisis.  Well written.  Easy to read.  And chock full of insights and tools for coping with chaos.

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know
by Adam Grant  | Feb 2, 2021

This one drags in places but is based on good research and decision-making.  Makes the case that when we are stuck, we need to rethink.  Or as we sometimes hear, when you are in a hole, stop digging.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success by Amy Morin  | Mar 7, 2017

The author set out to find personal answers for coping with life and change.  Now several books into this theme.  Does a nice job of converting research ideas into practical steps forward.

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.
by Brené Brown  | Oct 9, 2018

Yes, I’ve had this one on the list several times as well.  One I’ll keep recommending…and keep re-reading.  Sections of this book provide a great tool kit for equity; another for empathy; and a third for adaptive leadership.  Not a “how-to,” but good tools lurking there if you look for them.

12: The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner  | Nov 1, 2006

Based on tens of thousands of interviews.  Still timely.  Twelve key questions that measure a positive “engaging” culture.  Good stories, good questions, and lots of data on impact–why employee engagement matters.  Q1: I know what is expected of me.  Q5: My supervisor cares about me.  Q7: At work my opinions count.

Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall  | Apr 2, 2019

Buckingham helped invent the Gallup survey questions.  Now he shows us how to modify our work places based on the research.  Bottom line: check in with every report weekly to ask what they are working on and what help they need.  Aligning culture one small step at a time.

Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
by Martin E. P. Seligman  | Jan 3, 2006

A great book to re-read as we continue to journey through these hard times.  Good to remember that challenges are seldom personal, permanent or pervasive.  This too shall pass, and there are many things we can do to speed that process along.

Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being by Shawn Achor  | Jan 30, 2018

The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life by Shawn Achor  | Jun 5, 2018

Achor builds on Learned Optimism in The Happiness Advantage and in the Big Potential shares lots of great stories about how the Happiness Advantage can transform organizations.

Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead, and Live Without Barriers
by Jo Boaler and HarperAudio

Builds on ideas from Growth Mindset, Grit and others.  Initially applied those ideas to teaching math.  Expands the ideas here from students to adults to organizations.

One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams
by Chris FussellC. W. Goodyear, et al. | Jun 13, 2017

Author learned from the Team of Teams in Iraq.  Explains graphically why logical linear processes fail in a world of constant change, and what we can do about it.

The Culture Code (The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups) [Paperback] 21 Feb 2019 by Daniel Coyle | Jan 1, 2019

Coyle had a winner with the Talent Code: how the world’s best performers develop talent.  Yes, we can grow talent.  Here Coyle visits the best teams in the world and unpacks three keys:  belonging, collaboration, and purpose.

Skip the Line: The 10,000 Experiments Rule and Other Surprising Advice for Reaching Your Goals by James Altucher and HarperAudio

Altucher was down on his luck and out of work when he jotted down 10 ideas and sent them to his favorite author.  The author encouraged Altucher to develop those ideas.  He used the process to create many new businesses and here shares ideas on how to go make things happen.

Multipliers, Revised and Updated: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman, John Meagher, et al.
Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact
by Liz Wiseman  | Oct 19, 2021

Multipliers is recently updated.  Impact Players is just out.  Big idea: top-down fails every time by not recognizing and multiplying the ideas of those on the front lines.

Stories That Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business by Kindra Hall  | Sep 24, 2019

A how-to book on developing stories that communicate, resonate, and stick.

And a few more … unrelated to resilience

The Personal Librarian  by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray  | Jun 29, 2021

A new category for me: “creative non-fiction.”  The true story of the personal librarian to J.P. Morgan–Belle de Costa Greene–and how she transformed the Morgan collection into worldwide fame.  A great story about an incredible woman, with insights into race relations in the early 1900s.

The Mystery of the Lost Cezanne (Verlaque and Bonnet Provencal Mystery Book 5) by M. L. Longworth

Historical fiction.  Cézanne lived and died in Aix-en-Provence.  This novel pursues the notion of a missing painting–portrait of an early love?–lost, found, lost again.  A good mystery along with some interesting art commentary.  Brings back memories of my last visit.

The Missing Formula (The Madge Sterling Series Book 1) by Ann Wirt | 1930

Rediscovered on our vacation home bookshelves.  Inscribed as a gift to my mother-in-law in 1936.  Sounded familiar, very much like a Nancy Drew.  Turns out this was just one of the author’s pen names.  Also known as Carolyn Keene and author of the first two dozen Nancy Drews.

Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice
by Rupa Marya and Raj Patel  | Aug 3, 2021

Unpacks the many ways in which genes, disease, and environment combine to create injustice in our access to good health.  Written from the perspective of those trying to provide more racially just health outcomes.

American Happiness and Discontents: The Unruly Torrent, 2008-2020 by George F. Will  | Sep 14, 2021

George Will is a great researcher and story-teller.  The book is a collection of his columns–some deep, some humorous.  Tending conservative but more than willing to expose truth and lies on all sides.


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Seattle Schools superintendent 2014-2018

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