I read a lot of books for professional development. Some I read because they are on a suggested reading list. Some because I am genuinely interested in them. Many I read because the are recommended by my peers. I think that most of my peers read this type of book exclusively so they are recommended more frequently. I find that many of the these books are fine, quick reads but very few offer the profound insights that they promise or suggest. Now, I am not a book quitter. If I start a book, I will finish it. I do this mostly because I tend to be very discerning in my initial selections. That said, my organization has a large online library that owns many copies of this kind of book so there is nearly always one available while I wait for something else or try to break up similar books. All of that said, all three of these are fine reads.
The Culture Code
I liked this one the most. I’m in the Army and Daniel Coyle books have a near cult-like following. This was good but I’m not sure it has earned the following it has. My favorite vignette within this book was about the San Antonio Spurs and their coach, Gregg Popovich. I LOVE Pop. He is the epitome of a guy who gets it. He is curmudgeonly and persnickety but he loves his players and has built one of the most successful basketball franchises in the history of the NBA.
Make Your Bed
Admiral McRaven is beloved in the military. He is smart and daring and willing to take risks… hoo boy that is a long discussion but it is a relatively rare quality and he possesses it in droves. This book though is clearly a money grab based upon his viral commencement address at the University of Texas a few years ago. It expands (barely) upon the list of items he told the graduates they should do to find success. Honestly, just watch the speech online – you won’t glean any new insight from this book. His advice basically consists of a few truisms that have some degree of value but it’s kind of cool hearing from a four-star admiral. The primary truism, and the namesake of the book, is “make your bed” because then no matter hat happens during the day, you have accomplished something and you start your day productive.
The Spider and the Starfish
I did not love this. It wasn’t bad but seemed really obvious. The title is the analogy for the entire book: if you cut off a spider’s leg, it collapses but a starfish leg(arm?) grows back. It wants you to be flexible and adaptable. Flatten the hierarchy! This book was fine.