For a few years now, I’ve set out to read a couple of books a month. I’ve posted on how I do this amidst a busy schedule. As the year comes to a close, I wanted to share the top books I’ve read and how they impacted my life and leadership. Here they are, by rank, from 10 down to 1.
Memorable Quote: "Status quo, you know, is Latin for 'the mess we're in.'"
Unforgettable Lesson: President Reagan’s life was defined by his constant evolution and leaving his current status quo. He did this by learning. He learned formally but mostly informally. He always had a book, but more importantly, he always had a person near him who knew what he didn’t yet know.
Memorable Quote: “Your very power and success might cover up the fact that you’re already on the path to decline.”
Unforgettable Lesson: This was a re-read for me this year. As a relatively “successful” church hitting the five year mark, this has been a year of looking past our success and seeing the ways in which we are vulnerable and at risk of decline.
Memorable Quote: "As a leader, it is our job to love who people are becoming more than what they are doing."
Unforgettable Lesson: What if 1 Corinthians 13, “the love chapter”, sandwiched between two chapters about leadership, is actually telling us how we ought to lead?
Memorable Quote: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
Unforgettable Lesson: For a guy who has a lot to say, Branson is convinced you can’t lead for the haul if you can’t listen and listen well. He’s a disciplined note-taker and aims to be more interested in others than they are in him.
Memorable Quote: “Tell your spouse you are trying to make changes and THEN appeal to your spouse to understand you.”
Unforgettable Lesson: As a spouse, if you have a pulse you have needs. You must balance and master the art of unapologetically expressing your needs and relentlessly serving the needs of your spouse.
Memorable Quote: “It’s hard to imagine how Dad managed to do it all – to be a top student, a star athlete, a man with a huge group of friends, and a devoted husband and father. As Mother put it with characteristic bluntness, 'He worked hard.' That’s true. George Bush did not waste time. He filled every minute of every day with activity.”
Unforgettable Lesson: George H.W. Bush brought tremendous energy and zeal to everything he did. To the public, he seemed lifeless at times, but in reality he was up at dawn, energized, and ready to energize others. And you can’t do anything great without great energy.
Memorable Quote: “Humility isn't thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
Unforgettable Lesson: I posted on this book earlier this year. Are there people who are better team players than others? Yes! The combination of being humble, hungry and having people smarts makes an ideal team player.
Memorable Quote: "Churches that want to 'prevail against the gates of hell' must learn to see themselves like aircraft carriers, not like battleships and certainly not like cruise liners."
Unforgettable Lesson: It is not enough to be a church unified around a compelling mission. The obedient church is the one who helps people, equips people and sends people.
Memorable Quote: “Only one employee in seven could name even one of their organization’s most important goals.”
Unforgettable Lesson: I’ve posted this year about having a Wildly Important Goal in your organization. There’s a whirlwind and there's the wildly important. The whirlwind acts on you. You act on the wildly important. We’ve been operating with the 4 Disciplines for 8 months and all I’ll say is that every staff member of Mission Church knows what the single most important goal is in this season.
Memorable Quote: “Stress is not the enemy in our lives. Paradoxically, it is the key to growth.”
Unforgettable Lesson: We were built for short, intense bursts of stress. When our life and leadership has a rhythm of stress and rest, we achieve peak performance.
So what are the best books you read this year?