Summer gets a lot of publicity as a season for reading, but Winter is one of my favorite times to pick up a book. Here are five books that I recommend to my coaching clients again and again. Their subjects range, but all offer a fresh perspective on age-old challenges that we all face in our lives and careers.
In no particular order here are…
Five Books To Change Your Worldview
The Power of Regret, by Daniel Pink. Truth be told, I am only halfway through reading this book as I write this piece. But I listened to him give a talk about it during a conference last year so I feel confident in saying to you: this is worth the read.
A popular tattoo and catchy personal motto, the saying “No regrets” offers great appeal. However, Pink shows how being burned by regret is an effective teacher. Regrets create signposts to show us the life we do want to live. Robust research backs this book’s delightful, empathetic writing style. Plus, it’s peppered with real regrets from survey participants. There’s something very connecting about reading these individuals’ regrets.
Who’s it for?: Anyone who has ever struggled with regret or who has chosen the “No Regrets” path. So, basically, everyone.
Flux, by April Rinne. This book offers 8 “superpowers” to thrive in today’s changing world. These gems are so great, I even forgive Rinne for using the word “superpower”. All about mindset, this book goes deep but keeps it simple—sharing wisdom from beyond the West and thought-provoking prompts. Published during the Pandemic in 2021, it could have been useful ten years ago, when the phrase “change fatigue” started trending. And it will no doubt be useful in the years to come, because as Dr. Rinne says, “the world will never change as slowly as it does today.”
Who I recommend it for: Anyone who must create a life for themselves on the planet Earth, with its rapidly changing climate, for starters.
Untamed, by Glennon Doyle. Women don’t exist solely to serve those around them, namely their children and partners, says Glennon Doyle in a nutshell. Well-intended trope expressions about self-care and women abound. But those suggest that women put self-care first so that they may care for others. In repeating this advice, we continue to reinforce that women exist to care for others. In fact, caregiving serves as but one of the ways in which women express themselves, create meaning, and find fulfillment.
Who’s it for? Any woman who has consciously or unconsciously played small for the sake of others’ expectations.
From Strength to Strength, by Arthur C Brooks. This book plays rough in the first chapter, in which Brooks lays out all the painful evidence that we begin our professional decline much sooner than we tell ourselves. (Think 40-ish rather than mid-60s, which is when most of us apparently delude ourselves it will occur).
But there is good news for those who don’t tearfully put the book down after Chapter 1. It’s true that our productivity declines in our forties. However, something called Crystallized Intelligence actually increases as we age. And if we just learn how to harness it and let go of that which is inevitably going away, a long and satisfying career awaits.
Who’s it for? Anyone over 40 who feels career angst and is open to reflecting on ideas from a range of spiritual, philosophical, and religious perspectives.
The Power of Meaning, by Emily Esfahani-Smith. This book challenges the well-trodden “pursuit of happiness and guides us to pursue meaning instead. In that pursuit, she says, we find purpose and fulfillment through a range of experiences, not just positive ones. This is one of these books that was written pre-pandemic but took on a whole new depth after it.
Who’s it for? Anyone who has pursued happiness only to continue to feel unfulfilled. Anyone who came out the other side of the Pandemic with a hint that the “old way” isn’t going to work anymore, but isn’t sure what to try instead.
These books help you get unstuck. They help you think differently about humanity’s hardest challenges. Or otherwise, they help you look at the common narrative around a challenge and flip it on its head with a different idea altogether.
If you’ve read one or more of these, drop a note in the chat and let me know what you think. What other books come to mind for you that made your life a little (or a lot) better by reading?
Wendy Hultmark, CPC, ACC, is a coach who helps executive women get what they want from a career they love. Learn more at www.wendyhultmark.com.