It's been almost eight years since I got serious about making personal improvement a deliberate part of my life. Prior to that turning point, anything I may have been getting better at (less physical fitness) was not especially intentional. I had been listening to the great Jim Rohn and was struck by his quote...
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
I was happy with the majority of the people with whom I was spending most of my time, but I committed to not letting my assigned work center or my neighborhood overly influence the make-up of those five people. Instead, I began filling my head with the books of great leaders, my ears with PODcasts from entrepreneurs, and my eyes with TED Talks from creative thought leaders. Recently, I was asked to recommend good books for leaders to read. I offer my top picks here. I will soon do the same for PODcasts and TED Talks.
When I was a junior officer, well before there was a computer on every desk, I remember the importance of "The Read Board". It still exists in varied forms across the Fleet, but for the non-initiated, in its most basic form it was a clipboard with messages that had come in from higher headquarters, as well as both operational and intelligence commands that met certain criteria. The clipboard was passed around the organization and initialed by the desired audience. It was a way to ensure leaders were synchronized and benefitted from a shared situational awareness. Over the years, my personal readboard has changed. The below is a list of the content I read each and every morning to both ensure I am deliberate about raising my personal average and planting the right seeds so that they grow during my commute to work and throughout the day. I read plenty more than this, but these leaders can be counted on to transmit daily...
I Like the Cut of His Jib! - Mike Lambert has been a personal mentor of mine for a few years. His blog speaks of leadership, navy current events, professional development for military professionals. I just wish he allowed e-mail subscriptions since I tend to consume most blogs via e-mail. In the interim, Google Reader will have to do...
Seth's Blog - Seth Godin is considered a marketing guru and has grown into a premier author, speaker, and overall influencer. A must read each and every day.
Simon Sinek - Simon's book "Start With Why" caught my attention three years ago and I have been benefitting from his daily wisdom ever since. He provides a thought provoking original quote most days. Click on the "Notes to Inspire" link at the top right of his webpage to subscribe.
Michael Hyatt - This is a relatively new addition to my read board and he also does a great PODcast. He talks and speaks about leadership, writing, and living with intention. Great stuff!
Hugh MacLeod - Those who know me or read this blog with any regularity know how fond I am of Hugh's art. He also blogs and has two great books that I not only enjoyed, but have also purchased for others as gifts periodically. His daily cartoon is a staple.
Facebook News Feed - Yes, I check Facebook regularly and I read with interest the updates shared by my Facebook friends. It gives me an opportunity to have a running start at a conversation the next time we speak, it allows me to celebrate successes from afar, and it allow me to reach out a hand when needed. Many still see Facebook as a time sink, but I see it as time well wasted (Click here for more on that). If the people I value care enough to share, I surely care enough to read...
Information Dissemination - This forum is nothing short of phenomenal for anyone interested in staying abreast of and thinking critically about the current and future state of the U.S. Navy. It truly is "The intersection of Maritime Strategy and Strategic Communication". In my opinion it is the model for how each of our strategic leaders should communicate with those of us under their charge.
HBR Management Tip of The Day - Over time, I have grown tired of many of the messages Harvard Business Review tends to offer. That said, their Management Tip of the Day connects with me quite often.
Just Add Light And Stir - Sandra Dodd is a parenting evangelist. She is an avid proponent of "Unschooling". And though the term turns me off, her message inspires me to be an active parent, a deliberate partner in my son's life experiences, and a skeptic of the traditional approach to both parenting and educating our children. I've taken more than a few of her parenting philosophies with me to the workplace. After all, parenting is leadership.
What is on your daily read board? Please share it with me and others so that we can bring up our average. If you don't have a daily read board, consider starting with some of the above and raise your average. Those with whom I serve should know that I will arrive at work each morning having consumed the above wisdom, and then some. For those of you willing to go one step further, why not consider contributing to someone else's readboard by sharing your own content. I'd love to add you to my professional reading list.