10 books to help you become who you want to be
The Desire Map is part book, part workbook, written by Danielle LaPorte. Danielle explains that setting goals never works because its centered around a thing but what we really are chasing is a feeling. The workbook helps the reader reflect on what is important to him/her, define their personal values, and set their ‘desired feelings’ – then figure out what you need to do to achieve those feelings. I recommend buying the book (its cheaper on Amazon), which has a lot of helpful written content and the workbook is throughout the book that you do as you read. But when you’re ready to reset your goals in 6 months or a year, you can go to her website and get the PDF version of the workbook. She also sells a daily agenda notebook, which aligns with the Desire Map protocol.
I found this book to be really helpful. It clarified what I really wanted to feel in life. I stopped making goals like, “lose 20 pounds”. Instead, the feeling I was craving was confidence and strength, so I set goals that would make me feel strong and confident, like running and improv classes, respectively. The process was cathartic and really motivating for me. I started making the biggest moves in my life after this book. I haven’t done it in a year and a half and as I’m writing this I’m realizing that I need to do it again.
This is my favorite Brene Brown book. I probably need to reread Daring Greatly and Rising Strong because when I read those I was in a very different place in my life and did not really understand what she meant by vulnerability and shame. But this book is so meaningful for me. I read it while in Lisbon, which was a tough trip to do alone; the people in Lisbon were kind of cold and sometimes really mean. I was feeling very lonely there and also still very confused and hurt about what was going on (and still is) in our country. I read this about a year after Trump was elected and I was still filled with a lot of rage against people who voted for him. Braving the Wilderness was such perfect timing for me. Brene beautifully explains why we need connection with others, even when we think they are on the wrong side of history, but she points out that this connection or “true belonging” doesn’t happen by changing, it happens by being who we truly are.
I’ll let her explain it: “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture, that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.”
This book probably changed my life more than any other. Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle’s memoir; a life filled with eating disorders, substance abuse, depression, marital problems, which she mostly ignored. Glennon was kind of stuck in a purgatory of never dealing with her pain but never feeling true happiness. Love Warrior is the story of her identifying her pain, feeling it, and becoming a warrior. More than anything, the book taught me this: pain is inevitable, ignoring it will not help, feel it, you are strong enough to feel it and heal from it, dealing with our pain is the only way to experience true joy and happiness. Very similar to what Brene Brown teaches us in her early works, but I prefer this memoir style. It’s so raw and authentic. I read it in one day, sitting at a bar for eight hours but I was so engrossed in the book I think I only had two beers.
I did not realize I was a good writer until one day I sat down and wrote a short piece about the man I loved and the history of our relationship and how it changed me. I wrote it because I needed to process the relationship and my feelings for him. I shared it with a few friends, just for fun, and their reactions were so supportive, affirmative, and encouraging. The more I wrote on my blog, the more positive response I got, so I finally believe I am a good writer. The truth is for years, I didn’t think I was a good writer. Mostly because my high school English teachers and college poli sci professors never seemed that impressed with my writing. And I struggled with papers. I was very scared to write, even alone. When I read Big Magic, I realized I didn’t have to be good at writing. I can just fucking do it. Elizabeth Gilbert makes the case that creativity (whatever it means to you) is something humans need to act on – it doesn’t mean you have to be good at it or make a living from it. If it makes you happy, just fucking do it.
This book was assigned to me my last month of grad school, which was a bummer because this is what I wanted all of graduate school to be like. LaLoux and Wilber explain why organizations fail, if not fiscally, then culturally, becoming a soulless place to work. “Deep inside, we long for soulful workplaces, for authenticity, community, passion, and purpose.” The book makes the case that we not only need enlightened leaders but enlightened organizations; it describes how we can be authentic leaders and build authentic organizations where people feel they belong, feel like their living their purpose. A lot of these types of books can be dry, but this was thrilling to read. The solutions are so practical its crazy all organizations aren’t doing them right now.
Brene Brown + mindfulness meditation + MBA course = this book. It describes all of the authentic living practices that I’m passionate about, and the exact issues I’ve had in the workplace and gives us the guide on how to change. I recommend this book not just for consultants or HR people or managers, it’s for anyone that works in an organization or influences people who work in an organization.
Another grad school book that I loved. Written by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, it’s a great introduction to design thinking, especially how we can use it to positively impact and change our own lives. The authors teach us how to use design thinking to create a life that is both meaningful and provides a living. If you’re confused about your life, don’t know what you want to do, or if your plan(s) didn't work out for you – this book is for you. The book taught me how to figure out what’s important to me, brainstorm and mind map ideas, have lots of plans, prototype, and keep going after it. In today’s entrepreneurship/innovation landscape, we hear a lot of inspirational quotes telling us its ok to fail, but no one really explains why its ok or how to do it well. This book does. Because just like Glennon taught me in Love Warrior, failure is inevitable, so figure out how to work with it, not against it.
“Becoming a Resonant Leader: Develop Your Emotional Intelligence, Renew Your Relationships, Sustain Your Effectiveness” by Anne McKee and Richard Boyatzis was assigned to me in grad school. Boyatzis was actually my professor. It’s mostly a workbook helping to define your personal vision. The focus is on developing emotional intelligence while creating a meaningful life. The exercises are really helpful and clarifying.
This book was recommended to me by a woman in my grad program that I deeply admire and respect. I was telling her the issues I was having at work, feeling inadequate and insecure around my clients. I will admit that I haven’t read all of it, but that’s another great thing about this book – you don’t have to read it from start to finish. You can pick and choose chapters if you’re short on time, like I was trying to finish it before a client engagement. The authors, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, go over the neuroscience of confidence, specifically for women, as well as give some very helpful advice on how to gain confidence. “You won’t discover it by thinking positive thoughts or by telling yourself (or your children) that you are perfect as you are. You also won’t find it by simply squaring your shoulders and faking it. But it does require a choice: less people pleasing and perfectionism and more action, risk taking, and fast failure.” All of which perfectly aligns with what I learned from Designing Your Life and Love Warrior – embrace failure/pain.
Written by Dale Carnegie in 1936, this book is still a best seller on Amazon. It’s a classic. I don’t think it’s the most mind blowing or touching book you’ll ever read but I do think it’s helpful. Basically, the book has six ways to make people like you, twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and nine ways to change people without arousing resentment. All the tips Carnegie describes are just like what we assessed and coached people on when I was an OD consultant. Basically, just listen to people and what they need and be genuine. We so often think the best way to convince someone of our idea is to keep making our point, but if you’ve learned anything from the Trump election/administration, you know that facts are meaningless. It’s a quick read and worth your while. If you can do the things he describes in the book, genuinely, you will be dramatically more influential.
10. You Are A Badass
You’ve probably seen this bright yellow book with big, bold “profanity” in the title at Target, the book section in the airport, or anywhere books are sold. “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero is funny, raw, and really practical. She tells the reader up front how she spent thousands on self-help courses, books, coaches, and she wants to summarize it all and share it with us – and that’s essentially what it is. My feeling is that it’s more geared towards women, but I think anyone could learn something from it. She helps the reader understand who they are and why, and how to love it, but also how to use that power to make money, live your truth, or create the life you want. It’s a really perfect mix of spiritual goodness and self-help advice, written in a very straightforward casual way.
Stephanie DeLacy unapologetically shares what it’s like to navigate the world as 20-something white girl, with humor, profanity, and raw vulnerability. Stephanie recounts stories of her travel, mental health, and the journey to loving her body. Her descriptions of dating are bawdy but incredibly relatable. She courageously describes her dysfunctional childhood, healing from trauma, and how she’s evolved as a survivor of sexual assault. At times, heart wrenching, her stories will evoke raw emotion and connect to you on the most guttural level. She hopes to inspire authentic living and human connection. Stephanie lives in Cleveland with her dog and two cats.