It seems to me that everyone is faced with challenges currently, and for most of us they look different than those we face during ‘normal’ times. Some find themselves at home with their kids, trying to juggle raising and educating the kids whilst trying to get work done somehow as well. Some find themselves with financial challenges, as there might be less work during these times – or maybe even no work at all. And others might be at the other spectrum completely, with a steady income and maybe more time on your hands.
For sure, this is a time of new and different challenges and therefore opportunities for growth. Usually, challenges come paired with opportunities. At least with opportunities to learn.
Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the bodySeneca
Now my situation is actually quite stable. I’m in a stable job, don’t have kids yet and might only be slightly busier than before. And as I’m an introvert, I don’t mind spending extra time at home. But I understand that for many of us, the world really looks different now. That’s why I invited five friends in completely different professional and personal situations to recommend a book they think people should really read during this lock down – and I trust it’s useful! If you want to get some of my recommendations, check out my post on the books I loved reading in 2019. Let us know in the comments if you have read anything that we should read in this time!
Rising Strong – Brené Brown (by Jen Spencer)
This book seems even more relevant in this time than it did when I read it in January. The book addresses how to stay open and vulnerable with people, even when we run into the tough reality that we can get hurt doing so. While I won’t be as eloquent as Brené (which is why you should read the book), a couple key takeaways strike me daily in this season:
- Everyone is just doing the best that they can. This continues to rock my world. If we can realize that we’re all flawed people doing the best we can, that helps us to pursue connection and compassion rather than judgment. People are figuring out their quarantine. Governments are doing the best they can. Maybe it’s not great, but the vast majority of people are doing their best.
- The stories we tell ourselves. We make up a whole bunch of stuff in our head about what other people are thinking, their motives, what they think of us, and VERY LITTLE OF IT IS REAL. Brené talks about recognizing your SFD (“silly first draft,” to use the polite version for the S). Are you freaking out about the corona-virus, the economy, and imagining yourself starving with no toilet paper? OK, that’s your SFD, your first take on the story. But it’s probably not true. Deconstruct it, think about how you got there, and work toward what’s actually real. For me, the truth of the promises of God in scripture are the best tool to tear down the initial lies I tell myself.
Jen is a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft. You can connect with Jen on LinkedIn and get the book here.
The 4-hour work week – Tim Ferriss (by Sats Solanki)
This is slowly becoming an oldie (originally released in 2007) but has become a timeless classic that I often go back to. It’s rare that I can say that for other books.
Tim unpacks so much of the psychology behind why 9-5 doesn’t work as well as looking at our incessant need to work for works sake. It’s a great book to reflect upon the meaning of life and work as well as some super practical keys on dealing with information overload, the beauty and challenges of remote working, hacking productivity and more.
Thinking back on how the world has changed so much even since 2007, it feels like a book from the future and it’s never been more needed.
Sats is a Digital Marketer – be sure to check out his website! On there, you can also find A Quick Guide to Hacking Instagram in 2020: a free 35-page PDF on how to take all things social media to the next level. And be sure to connect with him!
Find The 4-hour work week here.
Creating Capabilities – Martha Nussbaum (by Sipke Bontekoe)
What proportion of citizens in your city live a life they have reason to value? Are you aware of the inequality around you in terms of capabilities?
Martha Nussbaum stepped away from conventional development indicators and formed a list of ten human development indicators. She framed this as the range of accumulated choices in life that enable an individual to live the life they want to live. How far reach your neighbor’s capabilities of to choose good health, bodily integrity, their own reasoning, unbiased sources of information or recreational activities? This book offers valuable tools to make sense of our world and what might still be wrong with it.
Sipke a Local Policy Specialist and you can connect with him on Linkedin. Youn can find Creating Capabilities here.
Groei met Cash als Brandstof (Fuel your Growth with Cash) – Sprout (by Timo van Balen)
I’m going to recommend a book in Dutch: “Groei met Cash als Brandstof” (roughly translated: Fuel your Growth with Cash). I don’t know if there’s an English translation of the book, but if you speak Dutch it’s quite a quick and nice read if you’re interested in finances. I found much of the advice and the examples quite relevant, in my role as Operations Lead at Innovation in Motion (https://nl.slide.store). The book was released by Sprout, a news website focusing on start-ups and scale-ups. While the main audience is clearly entrepreneurs, investors and joiners, I think the book is also a good read for other financial professionals.
You might know the adage ‘cash flow is king’ and, indeed, cash flow mismanagement can topple even the largest firms. However, this book not only reiterates why this is the case, but also explains how/why cash flow is more than just (mis)managing your liquidity—cash flow is a resource on itself. A resource that can be employed to maximize/optimize your cash position and overall financial performance. The book advises which knobs to turn.
What I also liked: Sprout gives a (sort of) overview of the considerations for a company in attracting the various forms of dilutive and non-dilutive funding: You don’t want to give away half your company to investors just to finance your next rent payment.
Though, to round off, I should also say: don’t expect to be on the edge of your chair and read the book in one sitting, it’s still a management book.
Timo is Operations Lead at the Dutch Start-up Innovation in Motion. For Dutch readers, find the book here and read about it here.
Atomic Habits – James Clear (by Jamie Baker)
Ever since listening to a podcast with James Clear about his book on the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast (another great recommendation, find it here), I kind of fell in love with the message this book is getting across.
I think we’re all trying to implement new, healthy habits or striving to dismantle the old, destructive habits in some way. Maybe this looks like trying to stop hitting the snooze button, or to sit down and write that book or get that summer body. The trouble is, Clear says, we’re trying to change the wrong thing: we’re leading with the outcome we want (to get a head start on the day, to be a published writer, to look skinny) rather than leading with the identity that would lead to such an outcome.
I think this is revolutionary. Instead of bemoaning the fact you’ve still not lost any weight or you still haven’t written that book (striving for these outcomes), you need to instead ask yourself some questions: would a healthy person eat a burger or a salad, have a lie in or go to the gym? Would a published writer watch Netflix or sit down and write a page? The reason we fail to make significant changes to our habits beyond just a few days is because we haven’t yet allowed ourselves to embody the identity of someone who would do these things. “I am the kind of person who goes to the gym four times a week” is the identity that will lead to the outcome of having a healthy body; “I am a writer” is the identity that will lead to the outcome of publishing a book, and so on.
Clear explains it more eloquently than me, and he goes on to talk about how to implement habit change in four steps – make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, make it satisfying. I currently have a lot more time on my hands right now, and I’m noticing the importance of maintaining and building good, healthy habits during this time. Maybe you’re similar to me – you’ve wanted more time to read those books, to go for a run, to learn an instrument, and now you’ve got the time! It’s never been easier to implement these new habits. But this book will unpack the world of habits deeper and help you make those new habits stick once we get back to normal.
Jamie is a Barista and Social Media Manager. You can find Atomic Habits here.
Let us know in the comments if you have a good recommendation for people to read!