Humble Inquiry

Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

by Edgar H. Schein

Retired MIT Sloan School of Management professor Edgar Schein asserts, “Without good upward communication, organizations can be neither effective nor safe… Your organization may be underperforming because various employees or groups do not recognize the degree to which they are, in fact, interdependent.” The gist of this book is about creating a trusting environment with open communication across hierarchical boundaries. This entails less telling, more asking, and better listening.

“The U.S. culture is strongly built on the tacit assumptions of pragmatism, individualism, and status through achievement… Given those cultural biases, doing and telling are inevitably valued more than asking and relationship building. However, as tasks become more complex and interdependent, collaboration, teamwork, and relationship building will become more necessary. That, in turn, will require leaders to become more skilled in humble inquiry.”

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The Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 Minutes a Day to Less Stress, More Peace

The Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 Minutes a Day to Less Stress, More Peace

by Dr. Patrizia Collard

Dr. Patrizia Collard is a psychotherapist, stress management consultant, and lecturer at the University of East London.  She writes, “The goal of any mindfulness practice is simply to experience life as it unfolds. To stay present and calm and not slip back into thinking/worrying mode, we choose an anchor of awareness—a point of focus we direct our mind to.”

“Mindfulness is being aware of or bringing attention to this moment in time deliberately and without judging the experience. So, when we go for a mindful walk we really notice every little detail and all we encounter—trees, cars, flowers growing out of small cracks, or a cat crossing the road—rather than creating to-do lists.”

“When we procrastinate and distract ourselves with ‘busyness,’ we avoid engaging with the real thing—our lives… Living in the moment, and seeing everything afresh without judgment and worry lets us experience life rather than simply get through it.”

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Happiness

Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill

by Matthieu Ricard

Matthieu Ricard gave up a career in cellular genetics at the Institut Pasteur to study Buddhism in the Himalayas. In this book he shares his wisdom about happiness drawing from thirty-five years of studying Buddhism and psychology.

“A change, even a tiny one, in the way we manage our thoughts and perceive and interpret the world can significantly change our existence. Changing the way we experience transitory emotions leads to a change in our moods and to a lasting transformation of our way of being.” Continue reading

Choosing Civility

Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct

by P.M. Forni

Choosing Civility is about counteracting the “coarsening of America.”  It was published in 2002, but is more relevant than ever.

“Being civil means being constantly aware of others and weaving restraint, respect, and consideration into the fabric of this awareness… When we approach others assuming that they are good, honest, and sensitive, we often encourage them to be just that.”

“Every act of kindness is, first of all, an act of attention… When we relate to the world as if we were on automatic pilot, we can hardly be at our best in our encounters with our fellow human beings.”

“Restraint is our inner designated driver. We all have it, and we all can learn to summon it whenever we need it… Restraint is an infusion of thinking—and thoughtfulness—into everything we do.”

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The Decision Makeover

The Decision Makeover: An Intentional Approach to Living the Life You Want

by Mike Whitaker

The Decision Makeover is about replacing haphazard decision making with a mindful approach based on advancing our priorities. “Trial and error does not focus upon why each of our options makes sense in the big picture. The question should be: Does this choice best support my personal definition of success? … It takes discipline to ignore the noise and focus on only a few key goals. When we focus, things get done.”

Whitaker says that that we gain success momentum from a series of interdependent decisions. He describes the success formula waterfall: awareness, prime goals, decisions, dividends, momentum, success. “Good decision making allows you to pick up speed and make faster progress.”

Each year we make thousands of minor decisions, dozens of medium decisions, and perhaps one big decision. “Medium decisions are best illustrated as ‘course corrections’—like a boat captain. Since the boat’s destination is one of our big decisions… These medium decisions assure progress toward our success.” Continue reading

The Laws of Wealth

The Laws of Wealth: Psychology and the Secret to Investing Success

by Daniel Crosby

Psychologist Daniel Crosby works in the field of behavioral finance. “Given that you, as a member of the human family, have tendencies toward impatience, arrogance and a fetish for complexity, it is very likely that you will screw this up… At my last count, psychologists and economists had documented 117 biases capable of obscuring lucid financial decision-making.”

Crosby presents 10 rules of behavioral self-management.

Rule #1 – You Control What Matters Most. “The behavior gap measures the loss that the average investor incurs as a result of emotional responses to market conditions.” As an example, the author notes that the best performing mutual fund during the period 2000-2010 was CGM Focus, with an 18.2% annualized return; however the average investor in the fund had a negative return! The reason is that they tended to buy when the fund was soaring and sell in a panic when the price dipped. More on volatility later… Continue reading

You’re Not That Great

You’re Not That Great

by Daniel Crosby

Psychologist Daniel Crosby tells it like it is in this book about the numerous ways human nature can work against us, not the least of which is egoistic self-absorption (solipsism).

“The biggest finding to emerge from the self-esteem movement was that praise did not predict self-esteem, accomplishment did… Many of the theories about self-esteem that had impacted policy were simply junk science.” Continue reading