Many of us have chosen goals to pursue in the new year. I hope professional growth is not only one of your goals to start, but also a goal that will endure as the year progresses.
Below is a short list of books I love and recommend and will read several times more.
1.) Good to Great by Jim Collins
A company that achieves the “great” status is a company that goes beyond the day-to-day operations, or even aiming for a steady x% growth each year. In Good to Great, Collins discusses the different paths some companies have taken to achieve greatness. These were neither extraordinary nor jaw-dropping measures, but measures developed through meticulously studying numbers, identifying patterns, and asking the right questions.
We can apply the same measures as we shape our career paths: what have you achieved in your current role toward department or company goals? What skills have you developed? Instead of telling ourselves, “I don’t think I will enjoy doing that,” we can instead ask, “Why don’t I try that?” What is the one idea (or multiple ideas) that makes your heart sink (i.e., something that’s clearly outside of your comfort zone)? Is it public speaking? Is it asking an influential person within your company to be your mentor? Is it a project for which many of your peers are competing? Create and survey your personal list, and see if you can identify a pattern. Then, call it what it is, and attack it.
2.) Women and the Art of War by Catherine Huang
Most of us are familiar with the war strategist Sun Tzu and his treatise, The Art of War. Indeed, many contemporary business texts are based on his war tactics. In Women and the Art of War, not only does Huang translate and apply Tzu’s words to daily corporate practices, she also highlights the typical and stereotypical strengths and weaknesses of each gender and advises readers on how to leverage them to advance their careers.
3.) Presence by Amy Cuddy
Don’t you hate “losing your cool” in an interview or in front of an audience? You might have practiced your presentation numerous times, but when it’s time to perform, you freeze.
A professor at Harvard Business School, Amy Cuddy had a traumatic brain injury early in her academic career. The long-term effects of her brain injury led her on a scholarly journey of decoding the art of “fake it until you make it.” To be present is to separate yourself from the future unknown—what you assume the other person is thinking about, how you must appear in the audience’s eyes, whether you are making a good impression. Cuddy walks readers through how they can cultivate “presence” in her book.
What other books do you have on your reading list for this year that is specific to professional growth? Please share in the comments below!