Three Must-Read Books on Leadership, Purpose, and Life

Three Must-Read Books on Leadership, Purpose, and Life

September, 2016“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” — Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood.

Reading is one of life's simple joys. It offers a lifetime of learning (and entertainment) on every subject known to humankind. Here are the top three nonfiction books I have read this year that made a profound impact my own life and business.

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is an author and speaker on leadership and management. In Start With Why, Sinek walks the reader through his theory on successful leadership titled The Golden Circle — divided into three parts:

  • Why — The core belief of an organization (or why it exists)
  • How — How the organization fulfills this core belief
  • What — What the organization does to fulfill this belief

The Golden Circle, Sinek explains, "is a way of thinking, acting, and communicating that gives leaders the ability to inspire others", stressing the importance of always remembering WHY we do what we do. Sinek provides examples of leaders throughout history (the Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Steve Jobs) who have leveraged The Golden Circle to start a movement or build an exceptional business.

I read Start With Why during a recent business trip to Sri Lanka, where I was reminded again and again of why I started Avidano Digital.

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor E. Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and survivor of the Holocaust. In Man's Search for Meaning, Frankl believes that we cannot avoid suffering, but we can find meaning within it to move forward. His theory, known as Logotherapy, is founded on the belief that human nature is motivated by the pursuit to discover the meaning and purpose of life.

Man's Search for Meaning was written in nine successive days, with firm determination it should be published anonymously. Frankl's original intention was to convey — by way of concrete example — that life holds potential meaning under any condition, even miserable ones.

Frankl's advice to the reader: "Don't aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself."

Anam Cara by John O'Donohue

Anam Cara by John O'Donohue

John O'Donohue was an Irish poet, author, and priest. Anam Cara is the Gaelic term for "soul friend". In the Celtic tradition, Anam Cara refers to a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide.

O'Donohue offers profound insights on friendship, solitude, love, and death. Chapters are short but are not meant to be devoured — but carefully read — with time for reflection in between.

My favorite passage from Anam Cara is found on the first page of the prologue: “Everyone is an artist. Each person brings sound out of silence and coaxes the invisible to become visible.”