Professional Development Books Keep Me on Track

One of the ways I know if I’m on track is by checking the number of books I read each year, both for pleasure and for my profession. I don’t have a set number that I have to read, but I do know that if I’ve gone months without reading then I need to realign my priorities.


Professional development books help with one’s career journey. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

I decided to review the books I had read for my professional development, in part, because the stack that still needs to be read remains quite high. I did finish several and thought I’d pull them together in a list in case you have anyone you’re still shopping for. I included links to the original posts.

Most of try to do too many things at once. All that multi-tasking makes it difficult to focus. A great book about getting yourself set for the day is 18 Minutes. Written by Peter Bregman, it is based upon his weekly Harvard Business Review columns. Step 1 takes 5 minutes and is about setting the plan for the day. Bregman says that before turning on your computer, we should sit with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day highly successful. In Step 2, we refocus for one minute every hour. At the end of the day, we review for five minutes. It sounds simple. I’m fairly consistent with Steps 1 and 2. Step 3, not so much.

I’m an introvert, althoughI’ve learned to function in many settings as an extrovert. I even enjoy it. However, at the end of the day, I need to allow for quiet time, which is why at conferences I prefer to room alone and why I build time into the day for a peaceful walk in between meetings. These become my “restorative niches” as described in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It’s a great book for understanding the value of introverts.

In Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, he recommends making a list of the 25 people most responsible for your career. But he doesn’t stop there. He then wants us to write a thank you note “to confront the humbling fact that you have not achieved your success alone.”

Most of us need routines and order in our lives. If you’re like me, though, you struggle to do so. It’s about finding “the power of rhythm and routine” at work. That phrase comes from Cheryl Richardson in her book, The Art of Extreme Self Care. Creating routines “creates a sense of order that gives the mind a much-needed rest,” she writes. One of the best routines I’ve developed is printing my daily calendar for the next day before I leave the office at the end of the day. That way I already know if I have to pack a lunch or if I have an early meeting for which I must prepare. If that’s the case, I know to schedule my training session for a different day or only plan on a 30-minute morning workout. I also know what healthy snacks to pack.

Jason Womak, author of Your Best Just Got Better, warns that we are often forced to sacrifice quality for quantity. Because there is so much information to take in, he says, we’ve become a nation of skimmers. The downside of that, Womak says, is we miss essential details that could “help us improve our productivity, build better relationships and live more gratifying lives.” His book offers several suggestions, several of which I’ve implemented, including carrying a camera.

What books did you read this year that you would add to the list?

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