Category great reads

One more

The Layers

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.

No Trace

“The migrating bird leaves no trace behind and does not need a guide.”


The universe is always whispering

Six months ago, I signed on for a new group coaching project. Since then, I’ve been waiting for the organizers to launch it. In early May, we had a flurry of email exchanges, followed by some phone calls. In late May, I had a strong sense of wanting to withdraw. The project still hadn’t launched, but I knew I couldn’t just walk away and leave them in the lurch.

The next day, I got an email from the man who recommended me for the project. He wanted to introduce me, electronically, to a colleague. “I was thinking that if you need a hand with the project or just want some relief, she’d be a great partner.” Wow, I thought. The universe was

Shame and wholehearted living

In The Gifts of Imperfection, shame researcher Dr. Brene Brown says there are 3 things we need to know about shame. Everybody has it [except those with no capacity for empathy or connection]. We’re all afraid to talk about it. And the less we talk about it, the more control we give it in our lives. She’s right, of course, and fortunately, she’s talking about it in ways that give the rest of us permission to do the same.

So if you want to trade your own struggles with shame for what Brene calls “a wholehearted life,” then buy or borrow this book. It’s anchored in cultivating courage, compassion, and connection, not as lofty ideals but as

Good usage, bad usage, and usage

In another life, I was an English literature major, which means I can drive family and friends nuts with my attention to language. Waiting for a client the other day, I was browsing through a waiting room copy of Life’s Little Instruction Book [1991] and was struck by instruction #459: “Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved.” It took me back to  Abracadabra‘s theme  and to a much more distant memory: a


That’s the title of a great new book by Susan CainIt’s subtitled “The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking” and it profiles the many ways in which we undervalue introversion. It also points up what we lose in the process.

She talks about introversion in both personal and professional domains. I was especially drawn to her debunking of some of our most sacred leadership cows, like the myth of charismatic leadership. Introverts 

Thank you, Eleanor

I came across a quote of Eleanor Roosevelt’s today: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

It spoke to the part of me that has always been afraid. A little research yielded a lot of discovery. This was a remarkably wise woman. If you’re hungry for food for thought, chew on one of these for a while.

“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.”

One step at a time …

A few days ago, I listed 10 big mistakes that people make in trying to change behavior.  Here’s #2: attempting big leaps instead of baby steps.

The antidote? Seek tiny wins, one after another, according to the folks at B. J. Fogg’s Persuasive Technology Lab.

They’re right, in more ways than one.

We’ve heard for years about the power of big audacious goals, sweeping visions, and ‘breakthrough’ leaps. But we live life in moments, one after another. Only in retrospect, when we string those moments and events together, do we see patterns and create narratives to explain what happened.

What if we could capture and study all those little moments? What might we learn that’s different?

A little exercise that pays big returns

I’m always looking for practical ways to improve relationships, and I came across a powerful one recently in a new book by Marty Seligman, the grand old man of psychology and one of the masterminds behind the burgeoning field of positive psychology.

A decade ago, Seligman wrote a book called Authentic Happiness. Despite its unfortunate title, it was a great treatise on what he considered the key elements of happiness: positive emotion, engagement, and meaning.

In April, he published Flourish. It pushes beyond happiness into  new territory: the science of well-being. And it has five key elements:

The answer to how …

The work I do with leaders is not easy, nor is it for the faint of heart. One common question I hear, especially when leaders are struggling to hold others accountable or to change how they and their organizations work, is “How? How do I do this?”

It’s a seductive question and one I typically reframe within a larger context. I learned a lot from a master at doing this: author and consulting expert Peter Block. Check out his book The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting on What Matters.

Here’s a taste to whet your appetite.

There is something in the persistent question How? that expresses each person’s struggle between having confidence in their capacity to live a life of purpose and yielding to the daily demands of being practical. … My premise is that this culture, and we as members of it, have yielded too easily to what is doable and practical and popular. In the process we have sacrificed the pursuit of what is in our hearts.