A Man’s Search For Meaning (Book)

This book is one of the most suggested books to read by high performers. In many ways I think people who perform a lot under stress like this because it provides perspective, but it also provides a solution of how to handle the worst parts of your life and/or career that every person goes through. The author, Viktor Frankl, is a jewish psychologist that survived the Holocaust. He was located in four different concentration camps, including Auschwitz, over a span of four years. In this book Frankl writes about his and other experiences in the concentration camps and the psychological affect it had on the people around him. He aims to describe the scenes in those camps during WWII as objectively as possible to provide further insight on how he got to his philosophy (logo therapy). The books describes the brutal scenarios of not knowing the fate of your loved ones, the horrid living circumstances, the verbal and physical abuse, suffering from malnutrition, dealing with diseases, and more. His conclusion is that people who still find and know their meaning, even in the worst of times, will be resilient and have a more fulfilled life. In the second chapter Frankl talks about logotherapy, Frankl own philosphy which is based off of existential analysis (will to meaning). In this chapter Frankl argues that striving to find a meaning in one’s life is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans. His experience and that of others around him during WW II provide substance to his claims. 

This is a great book that can serve many lessons for the reader. It’s a quick read and an encapsulating read

Blue Zones (Book)

Author, Dan Buettner, is Founder of Blue Zones where their mission is to “use an innovative, systematic, environmental approach to well-being that optimizes policy, urban and building design and social networks.” In this book, Blue Zones; Lessons From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, Buettner researches extraordinary long-lived communities around the world (blue zones) to study their diet, life-style, outlook, and stress-coping mechanisms to understand why they are an exception to the rule when it comes to life-expectancy.  Buettner finds that the reason for this longevity is deeply intertwined with community, lifestyle, and spirituality. The 5 areas people lived the longest statistically and that Buettner researched are Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Icaria (Greece), and Loma Linda (California, USA). 

The Art of Learning (Book)

This book is written by Josh Waitzkin. Waitzkin is a world-champion finalist in chess and became a world-champion in martial arts (thai-chi, push hands) after his chess career. Currently Waitzkin is a consultant in peak performance of some of the top hedge fund managers in the world and is the founder and President of the JW foundation. The book is split in three parts: first his life growing up and his chess career, then his transition into martial arts, and finally combining the lessons from both disciplines and applying those lessons to life. Experiences Waitzkin shares are about his development as a chess player, the new lessons learned as a martial artist, the impact teachers had on his professional career, how he dealt both positively and negatively with pressure, and how he continues to use and develop the art of learning for himself and others. Specific topics Waitzkin explains are thematic interconnectedness, incremental learning, teacher’s/coaching philosophy, numbers to leave numbers, beginner’s mind, making smaller circles, presence/awareness, being in the zone/flow, beginners mind, and more.

Andre Agassi, Open (Book)

This autobiography is of Andre Agassi, one of the best tennis players to have ever played the game. “Open” is widely regarded as one of the best autobiographies in sports because of the originality of the story, his brutally honest writing, and his favorable personality. The book starts with his family and how his father got to America and is written chronologically. The final part of the book is about his final match and retiring from the sport. Some of the more shocking material in this book was his love (or lack of) for tennis, his experience with the coaches he had, his tough junior career, and his off-court issues. 

The Power of Full Engagement (Book)

This book is written by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. Jim Loehr is co-founder of the Human Performance Institute, they provide courses and programs for athletes and business people to approach energy differently so that they can sustain a higher performance throughout their days. The Power of full engagement talks about how to manage and maintain your energy (not time). Loehr and Schwartz explain that there are four different but related types of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.  They argue that to achieve high performance and to maintain high level of energy people need get the right balance between stress and recovery, have quality sleep,  finding renewal time, expanding emotional capital, and more. The second part of the book provides an action plan which includes defining a purpose, facing the truth, and taking action through powerful rituals.

Outliers; the Story of Success (Book)

This book is written by Malcolm Gladwell, also know for the books “The Tipping Point” and “Blink”. Gladwell, staff writer for the New York Times, writes most books on social and psychological sciences based off extended research.  In Outliers explains the cultural and societal forces that provide opportunities to individuals. Through a series of case studies, Gladwell argues successful people are “the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.” During the course of the book explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. The main point Gladwell wants to make is that outlier’s are the synthesis of opportunity and time on task. 

The Road to Character (Book)

The Road to Character is written by David Brooks; he’s an author as well as a political and cultural commentator. In this book Brooks tries to explain the essence of good character and how today’s world and evolving cultures have changed the outlook and perspective of the people. Brooks writes in his book that to cultivate character and strengthen your moral compass one needs suffering, love, humility, vocation, obedience and honest self-confrontation. These experiences and character traits are described in ten biographical summaries of historical figures such as Dwight Eisenhouwer, Frances Perkins, Johnny Utah, Michel de Montaigne, Dorothy Day and more. Brooks looks to bring back some of “the good ole’ days” that helped get where we are, while showing his disapproval and fear of the self-indulgent and narcissistic culture we live in today.

The Inner Game of Tennis (Book)

Author, Timothy Gallwey is the former Captain of the Harvard Tennis Team and would go on to write the Inner Game of Tennis. After the success of this book Gallwey wrote Inner Game books on golf, skiing, music, work, and stress which eventually lead him to founding the Inner Game International School. Gallwey wrote this book for tennis players on how to manage their emotion better and improve quicker. He explains that every person is split up in to two selves; the ’conscious self’ and the ’doing self’. He teaches techniques on how learn to trust your ’doing self’, increase body awareness, improve focus, and play the game without judgment.

 

Peak Performance (book)

This book is written by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. Stulberg researches, writes, speaks and coaches on health and the science of human performance. Magness is a perfomance coach, author, and lecturer and is currently the Head Coach of Cross Country at the University of Houston. These authors write about how to attain and, more importantly, sustain a high level of human performance (both mentally and physically), whilst avoiding the pitfalls of burnout and underachievement. They draw upon examples in both sports and business and use those examples to understand the similarity in problems and solutions they share. The main topics addressed are: optimally alternating between periods of intense work and rest; developing and harnessing the power of a self-transcending purpose; and priming the body and mind for enhanced productivity.

Change Your Question, Change Your Life (book)

This book is written by Marilee Adams and it challenges you to think about the type of questions you ask (judging or learner questions). Adams claims with the right questions you stimulate innovation, productivity, and create more rewarding relationships. The book is written in a fictitious story line where a Ben Knights is struggling privately and professionally, but starts turning his life around when getting help from a professional. In this process he learns how to ask himself the right questions, how to become more of a learner rather than judger, how to use “questionthinking”, and more.