‘In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day’ (Mark Batterson) ~~~> Lions. What emotions are evoked when you think of one? Fear, yes? Fright? What else? Talk about something we don’t want to encounter in our lives = a man eating mammal that only looks safe inside of a cage, or part of an animated movie or cartoon! Now, think about how to build an entire book around such a concept; facing off against the ‘lion(s)’ in your life. That’s a powerfully incisive metaphor, and it made this a terrific book to read, page by page, by page. Mr. Batterson utilizes his own story throughout, and it adds a lot of colour to the account, as he intersperses it with Biblical accounts, and stories from others that he knows, both from his congregation and otherwise. I thoroughly enjoyed all nine chapters, especially chps 3, 4, and 6. In sum: this is a definitely a book that will pull you out of your comfort zone, so long as you let its account frame your own days, and, like any leadership reader, apply what you read in as many corners of your life as you possibly can.
‘Edgy Conversations’ (Dan Waldschmidt) ~~~> Hard hitting truths! Very straight “at you” read; this book will shake the reader out of his/her familiar zone [ in the early pages, he states: “Stop making excuses for Who - and Where - You are.” ] and lead him/her to growth in all areas of life. The author breaks the book’s excellent content into a flow which made this book hard to put down: he starts with a prologue that frames his own personal story, then sub-divides into six functional areas, and lastly, sums up nicely with an uplifting epilogue. I really was captivated by all the real life people he chose to intersperse throughout - he changed the font color to give them the spotlight, used bold faced font to make important points very clear, and lastly, he interwove his own journey in with words which added flavor and depth. The content is rich with meaning, applicability, and truths which cannot be denied. So long as you, the reader, are ambitious, a learner/thinker, and humble enough to put your ego and pride on the back bench and take heed of what’s being communicated on these pages. A truly valuable investment & am glad to pay forward this review so others will also grow themselves.
‘Remarkable!’ (Dr. Randy Ross & David Salyers) ~~~> Books which employ the format of a parable especially speak volumes in the marketplace; I’ve really found a huge value in them on my lifelong journey in liber education & professional/personal development. Here’s another that rung bells & was amazingly good! What a terrific read it was- Mr. Salyers & Mr. Ross really brought fresh perspective to a genre which many authors already have tread on/over - I noticed this from the first few chapters in Section One onward through the culmination/wrap at the end of Section Four. Without digging in too deep to inadvertently rob future readers of a terrific investment, will highlight just some of the maxims, formulas, and memorable words. First, the 4 maxims: Creativity, Positivity, Sustainability, & Responsibility. Those alone could’ve formed the spine of a book by themselves. Second, highly insightful formulas: those of Cultural Transformation; Value Extraction; Value Creation. And, some of the words: Axiology; clutch situation; value grade; and, valucentricity. In sum, can easily can recommend as a gold medal must read, and am glad to share this review in the blogosphere.
‘The One Minute Manager’ (Spencer Johnson & Ken Blanchard) ~~~> A widely known best seller written in the form of a parable; this format has become more visible recently ( see this blog for other reviews of such books, inc. ‘LeaderShift’ ) and it really works to get material to resonate. In this book, Mr. Blanchard & Mr. Johnson tackle a topic that is always in need: management techniques, actually, here, I’d call them principles, that help to organically grow stronger organizations. How basic the topics are laid out, all in the form of ‘One Minute’ - goals; praisings, & reprimands. It’s really not complicated to build up people, titles or otherwise, yet even in the present day, we have issues all across companies that could be solved by simply reading books like this, implementing their lessons and advice, and keeping a long term/time perspective to ensure the culture and values change. Glad to recommend as a ‘starter’ or ‘booster’ book to begin or continue this mission!
‘Uncommon’ (Tony Dungy) ~~~> Mr. Dungy has completed a highly successful transition from being a high value NFL head coach to a NYT Best Selling author. This is the first book of his that I’ve invested in, and it was an excellent read. When I first saw this book, my mind immediately connected with Coach Herb Brooks, whose famous quote as coach of the American hockey team in 1980 challenged his team to be ‘uncommon men’. Here, Dungy sketches out a terrific road map to ‘find[ing] your path to significance’ - the intro & epilogue with real stories of people he knows frame neatly the seven parts of the spine of his teaching. Of the seven, my favorites are parts I, III, & V; from the 3-4 chapters in each, I was reinforced my thinking in/with topics which I’d previously studied in other books, audios, or in person seminars. This book reads easily, and its content is filled with much wisdom = thereby, glad to recommend!
‘And Justice For All: The Quest for Concord’ (Orrin Woodward) ~~~> This is the kind of book that can be (and in this reviewer’s opinion, is) a game changer to break through the stale debates which can often permeate the public sphere in an age of information overload, and declining wisdom. Mr. Woodward’s scholarship and ability to synthesis many topics places him in the upper echelon of educators ( see this blog for reviews of his previous books, many of them also award winners ) who are willing to take on sacred cows and stake out new ground to help solve seemingly intractable societal problems. In this powerful read, the author shares deep sensus plenior thinking, in order, on the following core themes: State v. Social Power; the SDS (Six Duties of Society); a redux of the FLD (Five Laws of Decline) *, the Three Factors of Production, and, in the capstone, how the SDS & FLD interact. I came away from studying these pages with much more knowledge than I entered with, which in my view, is the sign of a book that is more than just ‘a book’: rather, it is a scholarship covenant with the reader. Side bar > this book will forever be recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records: Mr. Woodward signed more copies of it in a single setting than anyone previously.
‘Dealing with Dawkins’ (John Blanchard) ~~~> A book for those who understand forensics (the art of public argumentation) — it is very short and filled with insights. Its a very helpful read for men and women who want to better understand the faith based debate in the public square/sphere which rarely gets the thought filled coverage that it deserves. Talking about such a sensitive topic easily can inflame emotions and cause people to react instead of respond/think; Mr. Blanchard understands this, and he doesn’t attack Mr. Dawkins personally; rather, he takes the latter’s public statements and provides a faith based rebuttal to each of them, whether the statement was on morality, God, religion, the Bible, Jesus, or science. As a man of faith, my positions on the issues discussed did not change, however, for someone who may not yet know why they believe what they believe, such a small book can/could be invaluable. Thus, am glad to be able to review this in the blogosphere & recommend it to one & all.
‘Letters to Lindsey’ (Terri M. Brady) ~~~> Mrs. Brady flies under the radar, as she has no interest in garnering press clippings, yet she has impacted so many lives through the wisdom she imparts on her blog, letterstolindsey.com. This blog was so well received, an entire ‘coffee table style’ book of some of her very best posts was compiled & shared with the world in 2013. I am fortunate to say that I read it this year, and it more than lives up to the small amount of money invested in its purchase. The posts chosen cover a wide range of topics of interest and value to anyone: from being a mom/parent, to Christian faith, marriage, love, home schooling, & many others. I’ve already shared this book as a gift with several in my life, and it comes highly recommended! Definitely consider this as an ideal gift for someone as a house warming present (it is so well designed), for a new wife/bride, or for a new attendee/member of your church. All best!
‘Robert E. Lee on Leadership’ (H.W. Crocker III) ~~~> Major General Josiah Bunting, of VMI, attests to the quality of this book right on the front cover: “A masterpiece — the best work of its kind I have ever read.” I can certainly attest to Mr. Bunting’s words! While I read broadly in many different genres, thereby making it hard to pick favorites that transcend them all, yet, this one is in my top three for ‘14 for sure. I can’t point to any certain chapter(s) as better than others, since Mr. Crocker packed this book from the prologue through the appendix with a multitude of historical anecdotes, lessons, stories, & quotations which can serve to add value to anyone in any walk of life. Being a fan of true history ( not the ‘names’, ‘dates’, and ‘places’ type that is common in factory model education, but rather the principles, reasons, & wisdom ), I came away from finishing Crocker’s chapters with a significant deal more about who Lee was, what he truly accomplished, and why. Unquestionably, Lee has just as much to teach those in the 2010’s as he did while leading the southern nation in the 1830’s - 1870’s. This book likely has escaped the attention of most, however, at every point I can, I’ll be sure to spread the word, as what I learned easily made the decision to buy the book worth 100x as much as the $ invested.
‘A Whole New Mind’ (Daniel H. Pink) ~~~> Impactful! What Mr. Pink does in this book is completely shake up existing paradigms, thinking, and “CW *”, which made this one of my favorite reads thus far in 2014. I’ve been thinking for several years now that what happened in 2007-2009 was not even close to being a recession; what it was, rather, was an socio-pol-economic shift that impacted whole swathes of the population, yet the vast majority didn’t realize it. The author’s content here, written even before those years, goes a long way towards verifying this perspective. In Part I, Chapter 2 is powerfully incisive, and what he describes is happening to this very day, roughly nine years after the original publication, and eight after the update was released. Going further, in Part II, Chapters 6 & 9 especially spoke volumes. Being an entrepreneur who focuses on information, thinking, & mindset on a daily basis with the cores of my business, I can easily point to this book as third party proof of what can, should, and must happen to help society and culture grow and prosper — and it’s definitely not more of the same. The Conceptual Age is here: Are you ready?
- “The reason people blame things on the previous generations is that there’s only one other choice.”— Doug Larson.
- “Speech is the mirror of the mind.”— Seneca.
- “Don’t let your imagination be crushed by life as a whole. Don’t try to picture everything bad that could possibly happen. Stick with the situation at...”