“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge," says author George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame.
I read to keep my edge. I get especially excited about books rooted in psychology -- about the way we think -- because they apply to anything. While the following three books aren't technically business books, they've inspired me and influenced my business -- just as they will do for you.
1. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
“World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea -- the power of our mindset. Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset.” -- Amazon.com
Do you truly believe that the future is what you make it, that success is linear -- rising and falling with your efforts? If so, you have what Dweck calls a growth mindset. This productive way of thinking says, “What I'm currently doing equals what I'm currently getting. If I improve what I do, then I'll improve what I get.”
A fixed mindset, on the other hand, says that your efforts don’t matter -- that success is just up to the gods who either shine down on you or don’t. When we operate in this mindset, even subtly, we lose the opportunity to pursue greater goals. We become the victim, not the victor.
To strengthen your growth-mindedness, celebrate the process. Dweck’s motivational book will help you remember that success is linked to mindset.
2. The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership
“Bill Walsh is a towering figure in the history of the NFL. His advanced leadership transformed the San Francisco 49ers from the worst franchise in sports to a legendary dynasty.” -- Amazon.com
This book, by Bill Wash, one of the greatest coaches of all time, is my favorite leadership book. Walsh believed that the greatest coaches are teachers, and he focused on what he called “teaching the gap.”
For example, if Joe Montana was doing something incorrectly, Walsh would say, “This is how you’re supposed to do it. Here’s how you did it. Do it again.” His simple yet powerful approach yielded great results, and the same has been true when applied in the business world.
Walsh shares that we actually win more -- in sports, life and business -- by focusing less on the win and more on the process. He celebrated every well-executed play, whether or not that play resulted in a score or a win.
It’s the same for us as business leaders. The more we focus on winning, the more stressful and less productive the environment becomes. Focusing less on the win and more on the execution of winning plays -- or the process -- creates a stronger environment. This mindset shift leads to huge gains in the workplace.
3. The Talent Code: Unlocking the Power of Skill
“What's the secret of talent? How do we unlock it? In this groundbreaking work, journalist and New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle provides parents, teachers, coaches, businesspeople -- and everyone else -- with tools they can use to maximize potential in themselves and others.” -- Amazon.com
This motivational book challenges your thinking and shows how skill is learned, not inherited. Although the author’s work is based on highly technical brain research, his book is straightforward and relatable, whether you’re a parent, an athlete, a business person or anything in between. He identifies and explains three key elements that will allow you to develop your gifts: practice, ignition (motivation) and master coaching.
Entrepreneurs’ lives are packed full of checklists and appointments, but these books, by the experts, are worth the time. Their words will both empower and inspire you -- as a business leader and as a leader in your family and your community.
Our minds are too powerful to waste. Let’s take every opportunity to keep our edge.