Non-Business Books for Business Leaders, Vol. 3

Non-Business Books for Business Leaders, Vol. 3

Welcome to Volume 3 of Non-Business Books for Business Leaders. In working with thousands of business leaders over 25+ years, I’ve found that many of the most successful leaders are curious learners, avid readers, and well-rounded individuals with passionate pursuits outside of work, which fuel their leadership growth and approaches.

When we enhance our understanding of who we are, continue to learn and evolve, we consciously apply this growth to all that we do. When we are living and working an integrated life, we are more able to face the uncertainty that paints our vocational and leadership landscape.

As you may already know, I started Season 1 of the Beautiful Business podcast in 2021. One of the questions that I ask all guests near the end of the conversation is what books they might recommend that fit into the non-business books for business leaders genre. Some of the books shared below come from these suggestions. Others are offerings that I’ve read which I hope will benefit you and your life — and maybe your leadership, too.

To see the previous books that were recommended, visit Volume One and Two of this list, as well as the Beautiful Business podcast.

Laws of Human Nature

By Robert Greene
If you’re interested in understanding more about the behavior of the people around you, read this book. Whether at work, in relationships, or in shaping the world around you, The Laws of Human Nature offers brilliant tactics for success, self-improvement, and self-defense.

Robert Greene is a master guide for millions of readers, distilling ancient wisdom and philosophy into essential texts for seekers of power, understanding, and mastery. In the Laws of Human Nature, he turns to the timely subject of understanding people’s drives and motivations, even when they are unconscious of them themselves. 

What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing

By Oprah Winfrey, Bruce D. Perry
Our earliest experiences shape our lives far down the road, and What Happened to You? provides powerful scientific and emotional insights into the behavioral patterns so many of us struggle to make sense of.

Have you ever wondered, “Why did I do that?” or “Why can’t I just control my behavior?” Others may judge our reactions and think, “What’s wrong with that person?” When questioning our emotions, it’s easy to place the blame on ourselves; holding ourselves and those around us to an impossible standard. It’s time we started asking a different question.

Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”

I highly recommend this book for those who have suffered trauma or have loved ones close to you with similar experiences.

The Genius Zone: The Breakthrough Process to End Negative Thinking and Live in True Creativity

By Gay Hendricks
Too often, we live lives that we find unfulfilling, fail to reach our own potential, and neglect to practice creativity in our daily routines. Gay Hendricks’ The Genius Zone offers a way to change that by tapping into your own innate creativity.

Dr. Gay Hendricks broke new ground with his best-selling classic The Big Leap, which has become an essential resource for coaches, entrepreneurs, executives, and health practitioners around the world. Originally published as The Joy of Genius, The Genius Zone has been updated and expanded throughout, making it the essential next step beyond The Big Leap.

Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder

By Chip Conley
Chip Conley has twice disrupted industries he’s been involved in. At age 52, after he sold the groundbreaking boutique hotel chain he founded and ran for 24 years, Chip received a call from the young founders of Airbnb. They asked him to help grow their disruptive start-up into a global hospitality giant. He had the industry experience, but Conley was lacking in the digital fluency of his 20-something colleagues.

What emerged is the secret to thriving as a mid-life worker on the pages within Wisdom at Work: learning to marry wisdom and experience with curiosity, a beginner’s mind, and a willingness to evolve, all hallmarks of the “Modern Elder.” Subsequently, Chip and his co-founding team formed Modern Elder Academy, the first modern midlife dedicated to transforming aging.

Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything

By: Viktor E. Frankl, Daniel Goleman – introduction
Eleven months after he was liberated from the Nazi concentration camps, Viktor E. Frankl held a series of public lectures in Vienna. Yes to Life is a summation of these lectures. The psychiatrist, who would soon become world-famous for his seminal book Man’s Search for Meaning, explains his central thoughts on meaning, resilience, and the importance of embracing life even in the face of great adversity. Yes to Life is a beautiful companion to Man’s Search for Meaning.

Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation

By Jonathan Lear
Before he died, Plenty Coups, the last great Chief of the Crow Nation, told his story. “When the buffalo went away the hearts of my people fell to the ground,” he said, “and they could not lift them up again. After this nothing happened.”

It is this notion, that a people faced with the end of their way of life, that prompts the philosophical and societal inquiry explored in Radical Hope. As Jonathan Lear presents, Plenty Coups’s story raises a profound ethical question that transcends his time and challenges us all: how should one face the possibility that one’s culture might collapse?

And, how will we, individually and collectively, respond when our way of living completely changes? This is a vulnerability that affects us all, as we are all inhabitants of a civilization, and contributors to our society as it evolves.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

By Daniel Kahneman
Two systems drive the way we think and make choices, Kahneman explains: System One is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System Two is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Examining how both systems function within the mind, Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities as well as the biases of fast thinking and the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and our choices.

Kahneman engages readers in a lively conversation about how we think. He shows where we can trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking, contrasting the two-system view of the mind with the standard model of the rational economic agent. 

The Deep Heart: Our Portal to Presence

By John J. Prendergast PhD., Adyashanti – foreword
This book was recommended by my friend and colleague Gene Early who was a guest on my Beautiful Business Podcast. The Deep Heart explores the great human quest to discover who we really are, which is a discovery that changes our lives and the lives of those around us.

Spiritual teacher and psychotherapist Dr. John J. Prendergast invites us on a pilgrimage within. “The heart area is where we feel most deeply touched by kindness, gratitude, and appreciation, yet it is also where we feel most emotionally wounded,” writes Prendergast. “Whether we realize it or not, the heart is what we most carefully guard and most want to open.”

An Undivided Life

By Parker Palmer
We all yearn for a life that is whole, which is perhaps what we’re experiencing with the Big Quit or The Great Resignation. Wholeness is where “soul and role” are aligned. Perhaps no one has explored this topic more profoundly than best-selling author and distinguished educator Parker J. Palmer. Through this book, you can experience his inspiring and transformative teachings.

Big Panda Tiny Dragon

By James Norbury
This gorgeous little book was gifted to me by my dear friend and colleague David Mattew Prior. A fresh and inspiring book by writer and artist James Norbury, who began illustrating the adventures of Big Panda and Tiny Dragon during the pandemic. The book is inspired by Buddhist philosophy and spirituality to share the ideas that have helped him through his most difficult times.

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