From business to existentialism, I hope this wide selection will have something for everyone this Christmas. I also recommend them all to coaches, therapists and those who love psychology.
Chris Voss – Never Split the Difference
Although books about negotiation may seem shallow, materialistic and potentially boring – I found this book a riveting read. Firstly, Voss explains how he uses core NLP principles around rapport, mirroring and active listening. He explains how traditional negotiation used more combative or compromising approaches, while his approach refined from his time as an FBI hostage negotiator had a closer resemblance to Rogerian therapy. The techniques include establishing rapport with mirroring and asking ‘how to’ questions. The book is also full of amusing stories of how he managed to persuade people ranging from bank robbers to business executives. He also showed how these approaches revolutionised the old school approaches and changed how Harvard Professors adopted these approaches into their teaching.
Eckart Tolle – The Power of Now
The book that launched the career over 20 years ago of the unlikely softly spoken German guru (with a bit of subsequent help from Oprah Winfrey). He claims to have woken up one morning and spontaneously achieved enlightenment. He spent much of the next six months sitting in the park watching ducks in a pond totally immersed in the experience. He then decided he should share his revelation with humanity and wrote this book as a summary of various workshops he did in a Q & A format. Mindfulness has since become increasingly popular, but this book attempts to answer a the key question: why do it? Tolle basically sells the idea of the present moment as a powerful guiding principle for life. When I started practicing meditation, I found it hard to know what I was looking to do. This book answered the question for me: ‘Learn how to enter the present moment and just enjoy being’. This required a fundamental shift of values from achieving things in the future, to learning to appreciate the present moment. As the old saying goes, ‘yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present’ (and an ideal one for Christmas!)
Stephen Covey – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Although its 1980s love of mission statements may seem a bit out of date (like shoulder pads!) this remains to me the classic self-help book. Follow the process within the book and it will transform your life. Covey builds a philosophical structure around time management, mixing principles with process, to make you more productive and value driven. This helped me to evolve personally and as a surprising by-product my business career rocketed. His differentiation between urgent and important, remains thought provoking and motivating. My own book Mindful Business Leadership is very much an attempt to pay homage (and hopefully partially update) this timeless classic.
Irvin Yalom – Staring at the Sun
Yalom has a fairly unique skill set – a world class psychologist and also an accomplished author. This book looks at a subject we tend to avoid – death (hence the title of the book) but not in ghoulish way. Yalom describes in a selection of fascinating stories how his patients’ ability to embrace terminal illness or the death of loved ones transformed their lives. One story of a patient who couldn’t enjoy life for fear of dying was helped when Yalom quoted Otto Rank, “Some refuse the loan of life because of the debt of death.” He also covers some principles from the Greek philosopher Epicurus to help provide meaning for a finite existence. Given the foreboding nature of the topic, the book is packed full of positive ideas and affirming principles.
Alex Michaelides – The Silent Patient
On a lighter note, this is a suspense novel with a difference, the main character is a therapist playing detective to try and discover why his patient refuses to speak. Peppered with a few quotes from Freud and Jung, this amazingly popular first novel by a British movie writer (who moved to Hollywood) is also a masterclass in how to write popular fiction.
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