January had plenty of travelling time, which – for me – means reading time. My book picks this month were generally disappointing, but three are worth highlighting:
One Life. How we forgot to live meaningful lives (Morten Albæk). The book brought a fresh perspective on the absurdity of splitting life into airtight compartments. The impossibility of work-life balance as a concept of dividing time (and life) between two separate identities and the importance of thinking a larger purpose into who we are including thinking about the virtues we strive towards. The book went very well along with some of the themes from Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life that I have previously praised.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution (Chris McChesney and Sean Covey). The book was recommended to me by a friend with great taste in books, and it didn’t let me down. It reminded me of many of the lessons I have had to learn the hard way. A very concise way to think about empowering teams to succeed in a repeatable fashion. The focus on “lead” and “lag” measures was particularly insightful.
Awareness (Anthony de Mello). This book was recommended to me for a quick reality check and an antidote to some of the classic traps during the busy everyday life. Remembering the difference between reality and the categories/personas we observe is a struggle that (for me at least) requires constant calibration and reminders (at least it doesn’t hurt!).
My focus for 2020 is to read fewer new books and dig further into the unlimited knowledge and insights of older books. I often find that I jump on the new and the popular books which poses two challenges: a) the points and content may not stand the test of time, b) they are often merely rephrasing old ideas without much value add. Let me add for clarity that some writers do manage to add value by adding context or making the content more easily available (such as Ryan Holiday’s books based on the old Stoic virtues or Jordan Peterson) whereas others don’t add any additional value.
Finally, in my pre-reading research before starting on Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World by Rene Girard, I stumbled upon this article about the philosophical influences of Peter Thiel. It seems the link between the two is quite strong. I was very impressed by Thiel’s Zero to One when I read it a few years ago (this is another of the books I tend to re-read every year) – particularly, I was impressed by the simplicity and clarity of thought on multiple interesting topics. This led me to Girard and Things Hidden, who Thiel claims to be one of his biggest influences. I’ll share more about Things Hidden once I’ve finished it 🙂