Three Must Read Books in 2019
Are you constantly distracted and never really getting into the flow of work?
Do you set personal or professional goals each year and not sure if you are on track to achieve them? What is it that sets ‘experts’ apart from the rest of us, is it talent?
I have three books that will help answer those questions and if used together, will help you gain extraordinary results in 2019. Many of the ideas in these books are tactical in nature which helps drive results right away. You will be surprised how much you can achieve if you have a desire to make a change.
Here are the three books I believe you should add to your reading list for 2019.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World — Cal Newport
We have so much competing for our time and attention, it’s rare for use to get immersed in our work. Social media, text messages, notifications on your phone all are pulling at our attention and taking time away from the valuable work we should be doing. It’s the times we are involved in Deep Work that that will produce the most meaningful and valuable work.
One example in the book (and it’s an extreme example) is how J.K. Rowling was not making any progress on one of her books and the constant distractions just amplified her sense of feeling stalled, so she actually checked into a hotel to complete the book. No children, no social media and no construction workers just her and her word processor.
Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill and are hard to replicate.
Deep Work is the only way to (a) master the hard things (b) produce at an elite level in terms of quality and speed. Mastering the hard things is done through deliberate practice with feedback – which is a theme that you will also find in Peak (Another book on my list). While producing at an elite level requires working for extended periods on a single task without distraction.
This book will challenge you to rethink what’s important in your life and what you can ignore. One area in particular is social media, it has me thinking about getting off social media, I’ve already started the process but lets see how I do in 2019.
Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs — John Doerr
There are hundreds of goal setting methods and apps out there and you may already be using one that works for you. That’s great, but if you are looking for something that drives focus, alignment, tracking and stretch, allow me to introduce you to Objective and Key Results (OKRs).
- Objective is WHAT is to be achieved
- Key Result is HOW we get to the objective
OKRs were pioneered by Andy Grove at Intel and later evangelized by John Doerr and it’s a simple goal setting system for companies or individuals. There are countless examples in this book about how John Doerr shared this program with teams who have been able to deliver results. This is more than a book, it’s really a handbook, as I’ve heard John Doerr mention several times in interviews.
Ideas are easy, Execution is everything.
In chapter 3 Operation Crush: An Intel Story talks about how in four weeks Andy Grove rebooted Intel’s company priorities to deal with the challenge from Motorola’s 68000 chips. OKRs gave Intel the urgency, focus, and the agility it needed to counter the threat.
There is lots to write about OKRs, and I’ll have another blog that goes into more details about it. I want to encourage you to pick up this book and apply the method. Don’t let the simplicity fool you, measure what matters, and you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.
Peak: How All of Us Can Achieve Extraordinary Things — Anders Ericsson
We have a tendency to think folks who are good at something must have some talent or ability that we don’t. This might not be the case, and the secret to upping your game is deliberate practice. Where essentially we are working on the adaptability of our brain.
The author is also the person who came up with the 10,000 hours to master a skill, but mentions in the book that 10,000 hours may not be required, although you make no mistake, you need to put in the time, lots of time.
There are tons of examples in the book of how people who exercise deliberate practice have achieved incredible results, from sports to musicians to doctors.
The keys to deliberate practice:
- Have goals and targets to aim for – mindless practicing will not help
- Deep work – look for times when you can work and not be distracted
- Feedback – you need to know where you are failing and excelling to improve
- Comfort zone – get out of your comfort zone to stretch the brain
- Coaches – find someone in your field to model and work with them
So much good material in this one as well – you must pick up a copy, you won’t be disappointed.
I hope I’ve given you a sense of how these books might be able to help. As I glance at my bookshelf I think these three books are the pillar in my collection. Lots of wisdom and overlap and I review these often. In all three cases, I’ve also purchased the audiobook.
Did you read a book in 2018 that made an impact on you? Did you read any of the three books I listed above? Let me know on Twitter and I hope you have a wonderful 2019.
Oh, if you are interested, Eric Wright has a new site called RapidMatter.io where he has a My Bookshelf app is designed to share your reading habits and favourite titles with the community plus learn what others like you are reading that should be on your bookshelf! Sign up for the early access program and begin sharing what books have impacted you.