My Take on a Book Review #8 – Emotional Agility – Susan David

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I heard about this book by listening to Lewis Howe’s podcast “The School of Greatness” (which I talked about in this blog post).  He interviewed Susan David and they talked a lot about how important it is to pay attention to your emotions and how doing so can help you succeed in work and life.  Sounded interesting…so I read her book…and it was really good!

She has a lot of similarities to Brene Brown (who you know I love!…see here, here, and here!).  They both talk a lot about being present, being vulnerable, facing difficult emotions/situations instead of bottling them up, etc.

Susan’s definition of emotional agility is that it’s “a process that allows you to be in the moment, changing or maintaining your behaviours to live in ways that align with your intentions and values”.  It’s not about ignoring difficult emotions, but about holding these emotions loosely, facing them, and then moving on.

There are 4 essential movements of social agility:
1. Showing up – face your thoughts, emotions, behaviours willingly with curiosity and kindness (she talks a lot in this book about being kind to yourself…even when you’re not your best self)
2. Stepping out – detach from & observe the emotions to see them for what they are – just thoughts.
3. Walking your why – your core values will provide the compass that keeps you moving in the right direction.
4. Moving on – chasing courage over comfort, challenge yourself, no regrets.

A quote I liked about compassion  “it gives us the freedom to redefine ourselves as well as the all-important freedom to fail, which contains within it the freedom to take the risks that allow us to be truly creative”.

There have been tons of studies done that show documenting your emotions (i.e. truthfully writing down the difficult situations/emotions you’ve been in) is a tremendously helpful way to deal with stress, anxiety, & loss.  She gives many examples of these studies and the results were impressive.  I would’ve never thought this could be so powerful.
“The point is that those thoughts are now out of you and on the page.  You’ve begun the process of “stepping out” from your experience to gain perspective on it”.  Makes sense to me!

While you’re working on “stepping out”, she gives tips on helping you be more mindful.  If you’re like me, your mind never stops and it’s really hard to try and make it stop.  Here are some tips to help you concentrate…
– Pick an object (a flower, your toe) and focus on it for one minute.  Really look at it…as if you’re looking at it for the first time.
– Rework a routine.  Pick something you do every day and take for granted (making coffee, brushing your teeth).  Focus on each step and action.  Be fully aware.
– Really listen.  Pick a piece of music and really tune in, listen like it’s the first music you’ve ever heard.

Walking your why is about identifying your values.  Easier said than done!  Here are a few tips to help get you started in figuring out what your values are!
– Deep down, what matters to me?
– What relationships do I want to build?
– What do I want my life to be about?
– How do I feel most of the time…what kinds of situations make me feel the most vital?
– If all the stress and anxiety in my life were suddenly gone, what would my life look like? What things would I persue?

Moving on isn’t just about leaving that “stuff” in the past, but also about getting the right balance between challenge and competence.  We don’t want to be overwhelmed or underwhelmed…we need the right amount of “whelmed”.

The ultimate test for any action should be…is this going to get me where I want to be?  It may require you to choose courage over comfort.  Or have that difficult conversation.  If you don’t, you allow misery and misunderstanding to exist/thrive.  Read that again!  There’s definitely some truth there!

This was an interesting book to read.  Lots of “hmmm” moments and quotes.  Definitely one you should put on your list!

 

 

 

 

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My Take on a Book Review #6 – Rising Strong – Brene Brown

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Another fantastic book by Brene Brown!  Read it!  (Should I end the post there?!)

This book is about overcoming adversity and how to “Rise Strong” from these experiences.  Great for anyone going through change professionally or personally…which is pretty much all of us.

Bravery and courage are themes in this book.  There were a lot of quotes I liked in this book.
“If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall; this is they physics of vulnerability”
“Courage is contagious” so true…in light of the recent Bell Let’s Talk Day, I saw so many people sharing their story because someone else was courageous enough to share.
“Once we start being brave we can never go back.  Courage transforms the emotional structure of our being.  It can also reignite our sense of purpose”

There is a process to Rising Strong.  Reckoning, Rumble, Revolution.
1. Reckoning – where we recognize the emotion and how it connects to the way we think and behave.  Where we chose courage over comfort.
“Denying emotion is like never taking your car out of the garage.  It’s safe in there, but you’ll never go anywhere”

2. Rumble – where we have to be honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggle (choose courage over comfort).  Then challenge them to determine the truth and what needs to change.  This is what is the hardest and takes the most time.  She spends the majority of the book talking about the “rumble”.
Topics she covers: boundaries, integrity, generosity, expectations, disappointment, resentment, heartbreak, grief, forgiveness, empathy, connection, judgement, asking for help, fear, shame, perfectionism, accountability, trust, failure, regret, criticism.  Big topics with big emotions!
“Expectations are resentments waiting to happen”
“When perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun”
“Comparison sucks the creativity and joy right out of life”

3. Revolution – writing a new ending to your story based on what you’ve learned.  Transforming the way you live.
“There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fear mongers than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise”

Just another great book by Brene Brown.  She is such a powerful person and great writer.  In case you missed my other posts on her books…take a look:
Daring Greatly
The Gifts of Imperfection

My Take on a Book Review #4 – The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch

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I was interested to read this book because I’ve heard 80/20 beat to death in almost every aspect of life (80/20 clean eating, 80/20 exercise, 80/20 at work, on and on) and was curious what I else I could take away from reading a book about it.

The author claims that 80% of our success stems from 20% of our efforts.  Interesting!

80/20 rule is not time management, it is time revolution.  Time management is how to organize your time more effectively.  Time revolution is about our use of time being the enemy.  We only make good use of 20% of our time.  For the procrastinators in the crowd…you really only use the last 20% of your time to complete a project, right?…so why not cut deadlines in half (or more) since you’re not using 80% of the time for completion anyway?

Find the 20% of your time that gives you 80% of your results, happiness, achievements, etc.  Do the same for the 80% that causes unhappiness, doesn’t give results or achievements.  Act on the 20% and find ways to get rid of the 80%.  He elaborates on this a bit more in the book.

The author’s research showed that for most people 80% of our happiness occurs during 20% of our time.  That’s brutal!  This was by far my favourite part of the book.  He proposes these 7 habits of happiness:
1. Exercise.  MAKE TIME FOR IT!
2. Mental stimulation.  Crossword puzzles, talking with a friend, journalling, anything that requires active thought.
3. Spiritual/artistic stimulation/meditation.  At least ½ hour food for the imagination or spirit.  Yoga, a concert, art gallery, watching the sunrise/sunset, meditation.
4. Doing a good deed.  A random act of kindness.
5. Talking a pleasure break with a friend.  Cup of coffee or a walk with a friend.
6. Giving yourself a treat.  Write a list of pleasures that you could indulge yourself and try to cross off one a day.
7. Congratulate yourself.  Try to accomplish 5 of these a day and congratulate yourself!

And these 7 shortcuts to a happy life:
1. Maximize your control.
2. Set attainable goals.  Challenging but not too difficult.
3. Be flexible.  Accept what you cannot control
4. Have a close relationship with your partner.
5. Have a few happy friends that you have close relationships with.
6. Have a few close professional alliances.  People who you will go out of your way to support and vice versa.
7. Evolve your idea lifestyle.  A balance between work/home/social life.

There were some interesting parts to this book, but I honestly found myself skimming through it as I found it a bit repetitive and the studies he references kind of boring.  I still think it is worth a read….especially for decision makers in a company, anyone self-employed, people in marketing careers, or for anyone feeling like they can never get ahead in their work.  None of those really apply to me, so likely why this wasn’t my favourite book!

 

My Take on a Book Review #3 – The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton

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I didn’t make a lot of notes on this book, as I thought a lot of it was common sense.  I enjoyed the book and think it would be a good one for people in charge of hiring, supervisors, or anyone in a leadership role….or anyone who works with a bunch of assholes!

Disclaimer….there’s a lot of use of the word “asshole” in this book (& in this post). So if you’re offended by that maybe stop reading this and don’t read the book!

It mostly discusses how to keep assholes out of your workplace, or if you’re stuck with them how to try and fix them.  Trying to make examples of them so that nobody else acts like them, call them on their behaviour 100% of the time (don’t ever let them get away with their asshole behaviour), and encourage them when they do act appropriately (“see you aren’t always an asshole!”).

If you’re stuck working with assholes and either can’t get rid of them, or aren’t in a position where you’re allowed to get rid of them (i.e. not the boss) it gives you some tips on how to deal with them and not lose your mind.

A couple of quotes I liked from the book:
“Fight as if you are right, listen as though you are wrong”.  Listening is so so so important (I think I might’ve mentioned that in another blog post?!).  Even if you don’t like the person, they deserve the respect of being listened to.  If you’re a leader having to give them feedback finding the spot between being constructive enough and critical enough is tough.  There’s some good info in this book about leading an asshole!

“To keep your inner asshole from getting out, be aware of the people and places that turn you into an asshole”.  This is probably my favourite line in the whole book because it is so true!  Have you ever been having a decent day and then you encounter someone who isn’t…they can drag you down with their asshole-ness almost instantly.  Sometimes we can’t avoid these toxic people, but I try to do my best to limit the time I’m around these people.

Again, this would be a great book for anyone who has assholes in their workplace…regardless of if you’re the boss or not!

My Take on a Book Review #2 – Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

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First, if you’ve never heard of Brene Brown you need to watch her TED talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” and her TED talk on “Listening to Shame”.  She is just phenomenal!  She is a researcher on shame and vulnerability, which sounds awful!!  But she’s written about some pretty amazing and powerful things in her books.

I just finished reading this book for a second time…and will definitely be reading it a 3rd, 4th, 5th time too.  What a GREAT book!  You ALL need to read it.  I could write a million words about the awesomeness of this book, but you just need to read it!

Scarcity, vulnerability, and shame are the main themes of this book, something we all experience in every aspect of our lives…career, personal life, and social life.

She talks about scarcity – we’re never enough.    Think about it…your thoughts of “not enough” are always first in your mind (“I didn’t get enough sleep” or “I don’t have enough time” etc etc etc).
The opposite of scarcity isn’t abundance, it is “enough”.
Three questions to ask yourself to see if there’s scarcity in your life:
1. Shame.  Is there fear of ridicule?  Is your self worth tied to achievement?  Is blaming the norm?
2. Comparison.  Has creativity been suffocated?  Is there constant comparison?
3. Disengagement.  Are you afraid to take risks/try new things?  Is it easier to be quiet?  Is it a struggle to be heard?

Her definition of vulnerability is – uncertainty, risk, emotional exposure.  It sounds like the truth and feels like courage.  It’s where courage and fear meet.
Think about it….when someone else shows vulnerability we think they’re courageous.  When you think about being vulnerable yourself you are scared to death!  Our biggest critic is ourselves.

Shame – anytime you’ve been afraid to speak up or share an idea….that’s shame.  Being afraid of belittled or being wrong…that’s shame.   Shame is not the same at guilt… Shame = I am bad.  Guilt = I did something bad.
There’s a whole chapter on how we feel shame.  How men feel shame, how women feel shame, bullying, etc.  Read it twice.  Great chapter!

There’s a chapter on shame in the workplace…and important one for any leaders out there.  “Shame can only rise so far in a system before people disengage to protect themselves.  When we’re disengaged, we don’t show up, we don’t contribute, and we stop caring”.  NOT GOOD!

There’s also a great chapter on parenting and shame, perfectionism, belonging, modelling who we want our children to be.  READ IT!

Some of my favourite quotes from this book:
“Shame resilience is key to embracing our vulnerability.  We can’t let ourselves be seen if we’re terrified by what people might think.  Often not being good at vulnerability means that we’re damned good at shame”.

“A sense of worthiness inspires us to be vulnerable, share openly, and persevere.  Shame keeps us small, resentful, and afraid”.

“If you’re not in the arena with the rest of us fighting and getting your ass kicked on occasion, I’m not interested in your feedback”….so if you’re not showing vulnerability but like to criticize me, I’m not interested in what you have to say.  Even more important in with all the social media critics out there!

There’s so much more in this book, but I promised myself that I’d keep these reviews short (so that you’d actually read them!).  Just go buy this book and read it.  Over and over and over!

My take on a book review #1 – How to Win Friends & Influence People

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I’d heard of this book numerous times and it was recommended to me by a few people, so I finally decided to read it…and I’m glad I did.

This book was published in 1936…which scared me off at first (thinking that a book that old would be boring and out of touch), but it’s amazing how relevant this information still is!  My first thought as I was reading through it was….DUH!  Who doesn’t know these things. Here’s a very brief review of my favourite parts of the book.

How to make people like you:  Smile.  Be genuinely interested in other people.  Remember a person’s name (so hard!).  Be a good listener (even harder!).   Encourage others to talk about themselves, and then talk to them about their interests.  Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.

DUH…right?!  These are things that have worked forever (since before 1936 apparently!), but so many people either don’t do them or suck at them…myself included!

To to win people to your way of thinking:  Welcome a disagreement, but avoid an argument….think about that.  Who wants a disagreement?  But who can welcome a disagreement without an argument?  That’s a tough one to wrap my head around!
Here are a few tips from the book to help you accomplish this…distrust your first instinct which is usually to become defensive, control your temper, listen first to what they have to say (wait…didn’t I already mention listening?!), look for areas you can agree, sincerely promise to think about their ideas and try to see things from their point of view, be honest (if you screwed up admit it!), postpone any action until both sides have had a chance to think about the conversation.  One quote stuck with me on this… “anyone who takes the time to disagree with you is interested in the same things you are”…so use this to your advantage and get their help to come up with a solution.

How to be an effective leader:  There are so many books on this topic!  There are some interesting points that I took away from this particular book.   There are lots of other good ones, but these were my favourites:
– I had heard of this before and read about it in this book…If you have to criticize, use praise before you criticize and replace the word “but” with “and”.  The word “but” is extremely powerful and will completely ruin anything you said before it.  Think about times that you’ve heard or said “but” and change the sentence to replace it with “and”.  Completely changes the tone/meaning, doesn’t it!
– Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.  The comment “we praise a dog for the slightest improvement and it works!  Why don’t we do that for humans?”  Ya, why don’t we?!

I could bore you and elaborate on all of these ideas, but this post is already plenty long enough…and you really should read the book!  Within the chapters it delves into more great information on how to accomplish these tasks and why they’re so important (in case you didn’t think they were!).

If you’ve read the book please share your favourite things about it!

My take on a book review…

Ever since I finished my degree in spring of 2017 (BEST FEELING EVER!!!), I was excited to start reading for ‘fun’ again and not because I ‘had to’ for school (even though most of my classes were quite interesting).  I read probably half a dozen “fun” books as I call them…aka fiction.  When I was about ½ way through the one I thought to myself….what am I doing, why am I reading this useless book.  Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy fiction…but I’d obviously read one too many of them!

So, after a few conversations with people I compiled a list of non-fiction books to read and started on that list!  Nerd alert….I decided to make some notes on these books for myself so that I could reference back to my main takeaways from them without having to re-read them (I’m not against re-reading, it’s just that my list of books to read is getting longer and longer so I don’t have time to re-read right now!).  Then, with more discussions I was encouraged to blog these notes…sort of my take on a book review I suppose.

Some of the books I’ve read (& will blog/write a review about in the future):

Daring Greatly – Brene Brown
The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene Brown
The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
Make It Stick – Brian, Roediger, McDaniel
The 80/20 Principle – Richard Koch
The No Asshole Rule – Robert Sutton
The 4 Hour Workweek – Timothy Ferris
How to Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie
The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F@#$ – Mark Manson
You Are a Badass – Jen Sincero

On my reading list (and growing daily!):

Rising Strong – Brene Brown
Braving The Wilderness – Brene Brown
Option B – Sheryl Sandberg
The School of Greatness – Lewis Howes
On Fire – John O’Leary
Girl Boss – Sophie Amoruso

Would love to hear of some other must read books out there!
Stay tuned for my first unofficial book review….is there a book you’d like a review on first?