Category Archives: Books

A Time and a Place

People who know me well say that I’m disciplined, or structured, or ordered, or sometimes “Linear” (which is probably intended as an insult, but I like it!). And sometimes I’m frazzled. Things go well for me when I have a structure for them. And I like creating those structures.

The key for me (and probably there are others like me) is to:

  1. Know what I need to do
  2. Know when I need to do it
  3. And maybe the odd part, have a place to do it!

So many things just work well when all three happen. And then there are the things I struggle with. Reading for instance. I love to read. I love what I learn when I read. And yet, I rarely read. Big DUH! I don’t have a specific time and place for it. Just thinking through the problem, I can solve this. Maybe it’s more complicated, but only a little. Reading is a “by myself” activity, and I read best when I step away from the computer (even though I love to take notes on the computer as I read).

There’s a great coffee shop up the road. Suddenly I have all the pieces.

A time and a place. So simple. Just takes intentionality!

This image is for a different purpose but it fits pretty well:

Six Second Hugs

As mentioned in The Happiness Project, and elsewhere, the idea that hugs of more than six seconds cause a chemical release that creates some bonding. I happened to have co-read this book with a female, (who by the way is married, and I know her husband, and they live a long way away, just so there’s no confusion), and we each commented on that six-second concept.

Later, unexpectedly, she asked me if she and I had ever hugged for 6 seconds (we had some business/social occasions through the years). I was pretty certain that answer was ‘no.’

A while back, I got a package in the mail. Would you agree this represents “more than six seconds” of hugs?
Hersheys Hugs

Thanks Lisa!

Important vs. Urgent

How do you determine what’s important?

ImportantSo much has been written about how we need to be sure we select what’s important over what’s urgent. What seems to be missing is a way to determine what’s important. Urgent tends to shout at us, while important can be much quieter. That doesn’t seem like a good criteria though.

What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.
-Dwight Eisenhower

Related article, How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the “Eisenhower Box”

Some of us get caught up in the evaluations: important, urgent, efficient, effective. This silly diagram, that I hate, because it so identifies me, summarizes the time was well! Thanks (a little) to my friend Keith Lowe for sending this to me.
Time Cost of Indecision






Two major thoughts on choosing what’s important:

  1. My loose paraphrase of a Roy Disney quote: “Decisions are easy when your values are clear.” My belief, which is yet to be proven, is that when you are extremely clear on values, all else will become easier. With a clear Moral Compass, and absolute adherence to it, all else will fall into place
  2. Rory Vaden’s book, Procrastinate on Purpose, adds the concept of time and Significance to how we determine what’s important. A highly recommended read.

Choosing what’s important, over the urgent, is still a challenge for me. I’m still looking for the book on “the easy way to know what’s important.” Anybody ready to write it? A short book would be preferred!


Pick Three, or Just One?

BookWithNotesPick One

Inspired by Seth Godin post from late 2013 (well worth the 30 seconds it will take to read), re: 3 friends, 3 books.

Seth posted this roughly a year ago. The idea, pick some books, some friends or co-workers, have everyone read the same books, and build from that a shared reference point for ideas and conversations.

If three books and three friends is too ambitious, try just 1 (of each). During this past year, I’m not sure how many books I’ve co-read with friends. I asked one friend to co-read one book with me. It was great. Then had another chance. Through the year, chances have continued popping up. I can’t begin to express the great value of this shared foundation.

Pick a friend and share this idea. It may be one of the nicest things you do for your friend. And for yourself!


The Change Pyramid

The Change Pyramid

I’m a big fan of the Arbinger Institute books Leadership and Self-Deception and The Anatomy of Peace

The Change PyramidOne of the concepts from Anatomy of Peace is called the Change Pyramid. Real simply, the idea is to build systems and processes (or training) that help people do the right things, rather than complaining when they do the wrong things.


90% Make it easy to do the right things (Easy, Enjoyable, Effective)
10% correcting wrong things

?Correction rarely works with people.? (paraphrase) But it?s so natural to try! This may be my big aha from this book. And a blinding flash of the obvious! The problem of dealing with autonomous people. ?Helping things to go right.?

I?m liking this concept of helping people to have things go right. I?m have this ?Yes, right, that?s the answer? feeling deep inside. Exciting. And I also don?t think I know how to do that, which is frustrating, but I also think I?ve experienced it, which is exciting again. Wow, that?s a lot of challenge and contradiction! OK, I?m looking forward to seeing where this goes?

It’s different, but I sure think it’s related to Making things Natural. Easy? Probably not. Worth it? Absolutely! Isn’t this a core concept of both User Interface and Training?


Beginnings: Co-Reading


FriendsReading with a partner; sharing what you’ve learned.

This idea originated with Liberty Church in Marietta, GA with what they call the One Year Challenge, or OYC. Perhaps over-simplifying, the idea is to read through the new testament in a year. (it won’t take that long) Agree with your reading partner what you’ll read each day. Read separately, and then send a quick summary to the other person. Needing to tell someone else what you read can sure make a change in your reading habits. It’s sort of like reading accountability!

Well, nothing says you have to stop with Bible reading. What if you applied this to other books? Over the past few years I’ve co-read numerous books with others. My favorites are books that have? natural short breaking points. Either short chapters, or good segmentation within chapters. A favorite book to co-read [I’ve co-read it about 4 times!] is

Most chapters are just a few pages. Easy topics, easy to dialog, doesn’t take a lot of time. But don’t stop there. Why not read something hard with somebody else? It’s amazing how sometimes other people catch something that I’ve missed. (actually, not all that amazing)

Co-Reading. Highly suggested. Give it a try.

Last Updated: 11/13/2014

If you find these Beginnings posts of interest, you can find a full list here.

Beginnings: Read More

Read More!

BookReading. We live in an age where there is more written material produced every day than existed across all history until just a few hundred years ago. Our access to reading material is amazing. Our founding fathers would be amazed at the easy access we have to written material. Alternatively, if you don’t like reading, there is an incredible wealth of information available in audio form. The resources available to us are amazing. People may spend 10, 20, 40, or more, hours a week in front of the television yet “don’t have time” to read. How sad!

Excerpt from How to Read More

Warren Buffett, the man commonly referred to as the greatest investor of the 20th century, was standing in front of 165 wide-eyed students from Columbia University.

One of the students raised his hand and asked Buffett for his thoughts on the best way to prepare for an investing career. After thinking for a moment, Buffett pulled out a stack of papers and trade reports he had brought with him and said, ?Read 500 pages like this every day. That?s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.? [1]

Buffett estimates that 80 percent of his working hours are spent reading or thinking. It?s enough to make you ask, ?Am I reading enough books??

80%! Wow!

I read “stuff” a couple of hours a day, minimum. I’m working to be more intentional about reading quality books. Progress can be slow. How about you?


Last Updated: 11/12/2014

If you find these Beginnings posts of interest, you can find a full list here.

The Value of a Real Book

BookWithNotesI’m happy with the transition to paperless. I like reading books on a tablet. But sometimes there is something about a real book; the feel, even the smell, and the different ways a?real book can be marked-up. Or add sticky notes.

I’ve disposed of a lot of my old books in the past few years. I will probably never read any of them again. And I miss them!


Flashback Friday: The Best Book I Ever Read

FlashbackFriday150This post (repeated further below) first appeared back in August of 2006.


I like to read. I would like to read more. Finding time, or better, making time, is difficult, yet important enough that I’m making it a priority. If I can spend 30 minutes a day on reading, that’s a good day! I continue to start far more books that I finish. I collect books that I sometimes never read. Then there are the few, new, great ones that I’ve read in the intervening years. Here are a few standouts:

  • QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, John G. Miller
    I have probably read this book, or listened to the audio, more than a dozen times in the last four years. I regularly put it into my “daily read” queue and take it on a chapter a day. Highly recommended. Closely related are Flipping The Switch, and Outstanding!
  • EntreLeadership, Dave Ramsey. Good stuff, even if you aren’t an Entrepreneur
  • TransForm, Jeff Haden. A bit different from the normal. A bunch of plain, “obvious,” practical advice. Jeff makes a great guarantee on this ebook as well. You can’t lose!
  • A Year with C. S. Lewis, Edited by Patricia S. Klien. This book has been part of my daily reading for years. Amazing new insights keep getting slipped into this book, year after year
  • Leadership and Self-Deception, Arbinger Institute. The unexpected! I needed (still do) to get “out of the box!”

What’s on your reading list?


The original post, duplicated:
The Best Book I Ever Read

Books I like to read, and were it not for the other necessities of life, I’d probably spend many hours a day devouring all sorts of books.

Due to some combination of “easily enthralled” and “short memory,” I often find myself commenting about how my most recent book* is The Best Book I Ever Read.? Now, I know that can’t really be true.? So, when you hear me talk about a “best” book, just know that probably means it’s what I’ve just finished.? I really do believe, for the moment, it’s the best book I’ve ever read!

Recent favorites:
The World is Flat
A Whole New Mind
Raving Fans
In Search of God Knows What
Simply Strategic Growth
A New Kind of Christian
The Story We Find Ourselves In
Healing the Hardware of the Soul
Every Man, God’s Man

* I should mention that I start a lot more books than I finish.? If a book hasn’t grabbed my attention pretty quickly, it goes on the shelf and may never get another look.? Occasionally I’ll retrieve one of those books and try again.? For instance, This Present Darkness is one of the very few that went from “not interested” to “wow” on the second attempt.