11 of My Favorite Reads from April 2015

This is my effort to provide a little signal by curating some of the best/most interesting posts I encountered during the month of April 2015. I recommend identifying and diving into 2-3 that resonate with you. Focus less on the dopamine rush you get from hopping from article to article and more on how you apply the wisdom in these posts to your own life.

Please use the comments section to recommend and share other posts you’ve recently found useful and/or your best posts of late.

The commentary below the link is typically the author’s own words that I’ve extracted as a key takeaway; however, sometimes I add my own commentary and make connections as well.

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[Blog Posts/News Articles]:

7 Books that Change How You Will See the World – Mark Manson

From Mark:  I get a lot of emails asking me for book recommendations. I never know what the hell to say because so many of the books that have influenced me have done so not because they’re so good or brilliant, but mostly because they addressed the issues I was going through at the time I was reading them.

So instead of divulging what my favorite books are, I’ll leave you with something better: seven of the most mind-fucking, reality-reshaping, Keanu Reeves from-the-Matrix “Whoa” inspiring books that I’ve ever read.

Click the link above to check out Mark’s book recommendations.

The Secret to Never Being Frustrated Again – Eric Barker

You don’t get frustrated because of events. You get frustrated because of your beliefs. If you understand how you upset yourself by slipping into irrational shoulds, oughts, demands, and commands, unconsciously sneaking them into your thinking, you can just about always stop disturbing yourself about anything.

Rarely can you change the world. But you can always change your thoughts.

How can I be as great as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson? – Justine Musk

Extreme success results from an extreme personality and comes at the cost of many other things. Extreme success is different from what I suppose you could just consider ‘success’, so know that you don’t have to be Richard or Elon to be affluent and accomplished and maintain a great lifestyle. Your odds of happiness are better that way. But if you’re extreme, you must be what you are, which means that happiness is more or less beside the point.

These people tend to be freaks and misfits who were forced to experience the world in an unusually challenging way. They developed strategies to survive, and as they grow older they find ways to apply these strategies to other things, and create for themselves a distinct and powerful advantage. They don’t think the way other people think. They see things from angles that unlock new ideas and insights. Other people consider them to be somewhat insane.

How Successful People Work Less—and Get More Done – Dr. Travis Bradberry

The study found that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in working any more. Successful people know the importance of shifting gears on the weekend to relaxing and rejuvenating activities. (1) Disconnect. (2) Minimize Chores. (3) Reflect. (4) Exercise. (5) Pursue a Passion. (6) Family Time. (7) Schedule Micro Adventures. (8) Wake up at the same time. (9) Designate “Me” Time. (10) Prepare for the Upcoming Week.

Don’t be “Nice.” Be Instrumental – Heidi Grant Halvorson

Powerful people by and large don’t give a damn that you think they are awesome. To really get their attention, you’ll need to let them know how you can help facilitate their continuing, increasing awesomeness. If you want them to see the real you, this is the only way. That probably sounds a little Machiavellian to you, but in fairness, powerful people tend to be powerful because they have a lot of responsibilities and a whole lot going on.

Everyone’s mental and emotional resources are limited. It may be arrogant, but it’s also fundamentally practical. You have to be worth taking time and energy for, and they have no reason to believe you are unless you give them one. That does not mean that you should walk up to a powerful person and just start listing your good qualities. They don’t care about those, either. It’s the goals that matter. What are their goals, do they align with yours, and how can you be instrumental in reaching them?

Brainstorming Does Not Work – Kevin Ashton

Research into brainstorming has a clear conclusion: The best way to create is to work alone.

The Good Life Sessions – Rohan Rajiv

At the end of the day, designing a life you consider “good” is a personal endeavor. There’s no tool or template that will solve it for you. However, there are principles that you can apply. And, we tried aggregating these principles into three sessions. (Click the link above to check out the three worksheets developed during these “good life” sessions.

There are many false assumptions around ideas of happiness and purpose. Many assume that you only pursue these once you become wildly successful. That’s missing the point. It is only when we live a life we consider “good” do we feel successful in the first place. This isn’t about getting things “right” or being “balanced.” I keep going back to the ‘life as an ECG’ analogy – good lives work like good ECG readings. There’s a lot of fluctuation around the line. Too much fluctuation is a problem. A flat line is a massive problem.

Jack Welch Says Only Two Words Matter for Leaders Today: Truth and Trust – Daniel Roth

Leadership today is all about two words: It’s all about truth and trust. You’ve got to have their back when they didn’t hit it out of the park, you’ve got have their back when they hit it out of the park.

When they trust you, you’ll get truth. And if you get truth, you get speed. If you get speed, you’re going to act. That’s how it works.

Other highlights:

  • See, one of the things about appraisals for people, appraisals shouldn’t be every year. The world changed in a year, they’ve changed in a year. You’ve got to let them know, “Here’s what you’re doing right, here’s what you can do to improve.”
  • Big companies can’t change quickly. Every big company’s gotta be a small company in their head. You want the muscle of a big company, and the soul of a small company.\

 

The Dangers of Empathy – Ben Casnocha

Strong inclination toward empathy comes with [individual] costs. Individuals scoring high in unmitigated communion report asymmetrical relationships, where they support others but don’t get support themselves. They also are more prone to suffer depression and anxiety.

Empathy is biased; we are more prone to feel empathy for attractive people and for those who look like us or share our ethnic or national background. Our policies are improved when we appreciate that a hundred deaths are worse than one, even if we know the name of the one, and when we acknowledge that the life of someone in a faraway country is worth as much as the life a neighbor, even if our emotions pull us in a different direction.

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[Interesting]:

80,000 Hours Career Guide

The team at 80,000 Hours has done thousands of hours of research into how to choose a career that makes a difference. They compressed their key findings into this career guide. The guide covers the following:

  1. What should you look for in a job?
  2. How can you build a good career?
  3. What career paths are most promising?
  4. How you should make your next decision?

I also love that they echo, Cal Newport’s advice not to follow your passion. The chances are that following your passion will end in failure. And this advice ignores decades of psychological research, which shows that you’ll develop passion by getting good at something meaningful.

Meet the School that Hates the Rules – Brian Foglia

If you’re somewhat familiar with my work here, you know that education reform is a big passion of mine, which is precisely why I enjoyed reading about Brian’s democratic school, South Jersey Sudbury School.

The current US educational system treats children like wildlings, or criminals, that need to be controlled, seen and not heard, lectured to but not listened to.

At Sudbury, children take their play seriously. It is partially during this state of “serious” curiosity and self-criticism that students learn their life lessons and find their element. During School Meeting sessions, students and staff jointly vote on new rules, hiring decisions, and how to spend tuition. All students are involved in the process, and are given as much time to speak as staff — teaching them critical life skills like communication and negotiation.

But how do graduates of this kind of program fare in the “real world”? A longitudinal study of graduates — now numbering over 800 — shows that Sudbury alumni lead deeply satisfying lives. Most are unusually resilient. Almost all feel that they are in control of their destiny. In disproportionately high numbers — 42 percent — Sudbury graduates become entrepreneurs.

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[Videos]:

Straight Talk About the Wage Gap – Independent Women’s Forum

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[Thoughts I’m Chewing On]:

  • Most of what you are going to do & say today is not essential. (h/t Shane)
  • By saying no to answering email in the evening, you would be saying yes to quality time with your loved ones.
    • Corollary: “Your Spouse is a Higher Priority than a Work E-mail.” (h/t Liz Ryan)
  • The latin root of the word “decision” translates to “to cut off/to kill.” Decide what matters. Do that. Say “No” to everything else. (h/t Rohan)
  • It’s hard to have somebody look at a blank space & make a decision; it’s pretty easy to give them something imperfect & let them tweak it.

 

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[Quotes]:

“The simplest ways to improve the quality of decisions is to have them made by people and not committees.” – Shane Parrish (@farnamstreet)

“The reason ambition never satisfies is because it obscures the moment, and you have to be here now.” – Molly Lambert (@mollylambert)

 

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If you made it this far and found this post valuable in any way, please let me know in the comments which of these reads caught your attention. Better yet, why don’t you share something you’ve read recently that you think I’d find interesting.

If you like this post, you might also like this curated list of 125+ of my favorite posts from 2014.