Recommended For: Every Human Being Everywhere at Any Point in Their Life.  Read it.

 

You have probably heard of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor.  This book is a compilation of his journal entries.  Even though we are a couple thousand years removed from his time period, I find that almost every entry has direct application to my life.  It’s hard to discern whether he was ahead of this time, or simply timeless.  The premise of the book is that we are in control of our thoughts, words, actions and ultimately our lives.  He details the fluidity between good and bad, failure and success. This book of philosophy is firmly rooted in stoicism and is something that I will re-visit for years to come as its principles can be applied to any and every situation.  Here are a few examples of excerpts:

 

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” 

 

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

 

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

 

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Recommended For: Athletes, Students and Coaches

Dr. Brown went viral almost instantly after giving a TED talk in 2014 on vulnerability. She talks about a concept that I have been interested in for years. Being open to scrutiny, fear, failure and pain. What??? Why would you ever want to do that you ask? Here’s why – believe it or not, Dr. Brown details how accepting these things into your life will actually make you happier! Do you avoid trying new things or going out on a limb because you are afraid of the exposure? Then this book is for you. This could be as simple as asking someone on a date or as complicated as starting a PhD at age 50 with 3 kids in tow. The most ‘wholehearted’ people in the world (as Dr. Brown terms them), are the ones that put themselves out there. Even AFTER they fail miserably. They are mentally resilient to emotional, mental and physical pain as a result of their perspective on rejection. Thinking of asking someone out? Do it! Even if you get rejected, Dr. Brown says that you will undoubtedly be happier for it.

Energy Bus by Jon Gordon

Recommended For: Athletes, Coaches, Everyone!

Topic: Bring everyone around you UP.

 

Summary: You’re either on the bus or you’re not. It can be very difficult at times to maintain a high level of energy when you’re around people that don’t have it. You have to make conscious decisions at times to uplift those around you and shut out the negativity. Don’t be the victim, be the catalyst for high energy, authentic interactions. This is a gut check if you are in a tough situation!

Grit by Angela Duckworth

Recommended For: Coaches, Athletes, Parents and Every Human Being on the Planet

This book speaks directly to my heart. I have never been the most talented at anything. You could easily look at me and say that school, sports or even strength and conditioning has come naturally to me. This simply is not true. My parents instilled a fierce work ethic in me at a very young age and I ran with it. Add in a few other key mentors and coaches along the way and here I am. Duckworth not only leads you down a path of how to become gritty yourself, she also provides evaluation tools for coaches and employers to evaluate the grit of their athletes and employees respectively. She also details something that I found to be particularly useful, a model for parents, teachers and coaches to follow to develop gritty pupils. She says that demanding and supportive is the best way to go to get the most out of the people whom you are mentoring, no matter what the scenario. I highly recommend this for any parent, teacher or coach looking to create a culture of perseverance, discipline and of course, a mean work ethic.

How Good Do You Want To Be? by Nick Saban

Recommended For: Coaches

Topic: Building a Dynasty, What Does it Take?

 

Summary: Saban is well known for his high standards and ruthless mentality. He gives concise steps that you can take as a coach or leader to make sure that you are amongst the elite and not the average. I often talk to the players about being ‘average by comparison.’ They are better than 99% of the average joe’s out there, but when you are competing with the best of the best, you are really just middle of the pack. When everyone around you is good, what are you willing to do different? It’s simple, as Saban says, you just have to decide: How good do you want to be?

Lean In by Sheryl Sanberg

Recommended For: Women, Young and Old.

Topic: Taking Women to the Next Level. Specifically, C Level.

 

Summary: We did it! Over 50% of college attendance is comprised of women. However, only 14% of those women say that they ever aspire to be a CEO. We are at a pivotal point in our progression and it’s time for women to ‘lean in.’ This book spoke to my past self, my present self and my future self. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and then you’ll go out and kick some ass.

Legacy by James Kerr

Recommended For: Coaches, Athletes and Anyone Seeking Inspiration

 

This book was recommended to me by a colleague with the Astros and I think I highlighted more of the book than I didn’t. If you want to know what it takes to be the best team in the world, take a look at this book. The All Blacks rugby team of New Zealand is arguably one of the most successful teams in the history of sport. The book opens in the locker room, (or shed, as they call it) after a game. The senior players on the team are sweeping the floors, cleaning up after themselves and the rest of the team. Not the freshman or rookies. The captains. What a concept. The players serve as leaders of the team and take ownership over everything that happens within that group of men. There is such a high level of pride for their jersey. Nothing is about the individual. It’s about leaving the jersey better than they found it. From their ‘no dickheads’ policy to their unprecedented high expectations, the All Blacks do it right. Shortly after I read this book, I had a chance to chat with one of the All Blacks strength and conditioning coaches in Aukland, New Zealand in person. He confirmed that the team is a special one and the secret is that they protect their culture like it’s their first born son. The players are 100% bought in and they police the other players. The coach doesn’t need to. I have two books on my person at all times. One is Legacy, the other, Relentless. Highly recommended.

Mindset by Carol Dweck

Recommended For: Athletes, Coaches, Everyone!

Topic: Redefining Failure and Having a Growth Mindset

 

Summary: FAIL! Fail often and fail hard. Dweck details the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. This should literally be the foundation for every coach’s and athletes’ approach to training. Done. Next. Done. Next. Don’t fear failure, embrace it and learn from it. 

Peak by Ander Ericsson

Recommended For: Athletes and Coaches

Topic: Deliberate Practice, Maximizing Your Talent

 

Summary: This was one of my favorite books from a coaching perspective, but will really resonate with anyone who has come to a stopping point or a plateau in their development. It gives you a new perspective on the ability of the human mind to adapt and improve. It put some scientific proof to my belief that we are limitless in our pursuits.

Presence by Amy Cuddy

Recommended For: Coaches, Athletes and Students

 

“Fake It Til You Become It.” Amy Cuddy did a now famous TED talk on this subject and decided to write a book after her talk (https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are) went viral and she received an overwhelmingly positive response from the public. She details the science behind power, confidence and presence. This book applies to every person and every situation in life. I found it extremely interesting and applicable to my own life. As a woman in a male dominated field, my body language is crucial. It was enlightening to hear Cuddy describe the ways that we can develop a powerful OR, powerless demeanor through our physical actions. The common misconception is that we have to feel powerful first, then we will walk and talk with more confidence. However, she debunks this myth very quickly as she outlines research article after research article that says just the opposite. You can actually change your mental state by controlling certain physical motions in your daily life. Highly recommended for young women.

Relentless by Tim Grover

Recommended For: Athletes and Coaches

Topic: Working Your Ass Off

Summary: You don’t work hard. Grover details the mindset of NBA players like Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade and Lebron James. He goes over the different levels of leadership and mentality saying that many people fall short of what it takes to be elite. If you are trying to be ‘good,’ it only requires a certain level of commitment, but if you are trying to be extraordinary, it takes a little something special. This book gets straight to the point and is literally exactly what goes on in my head from a minute to minute basis.

The Difference You Make by Pat Williams

Recommended For: Coaches

Topic: Realizing the Power of Your Influence as a Leader and Coach

 

Summary: This was an eye opener for me. Pat is a long time basketball executive with a brilliant mind for business and incredible empathy. He talks about realizing the impact that you can have on an athlete in even a short conversation or meeting. This book has inspired me to have more meaningful interactions and reminded me to choose my words carefully because they could stay with someone for decades.

The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam

Recommended For: Coaches

 

This is the captivating story of the life of Bill Belichick, leader of the Patriots dynasty that won 3 consecutive Superbowls. This book was recommended to me by a friend who actually played for Bill. Instead of focusing on Belichick’s coaching strategies, it details is upbringing, both personal and professional. The son of a coach and the product of a humble upbringing, Belichick had a gruff attitude and a gritty approach just about every step of the way in his professional life as a coach. I particularly liked this book as a coach because it details the mentorship that Bill received to help him get where he was going. Of course, it started with his parents and grandparents, but his coaches were also a major influence. This book just reiterated the importance of every interaction we have with those whom we mentor.

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

Recommended For: Athletes and Students

 

This book could be on repeat in the background and would benefit every human being on the face of the earth. This is something we all know well. Failures lead to grand successes, firings lead to epic careers and break ups lead to successful marriages. The thing we don’t all do well is look at these things and immediately jump for joy when they happen. We all wait until 2-3 years down the road and say, ‘Actually, that was the best thing.’ But, what if you had the ability to look at that failure in the moment and say, ‘Actually, this is the best thing.’ The longer it takes you to flip a failure into the learning experience, the less likely you are to accomplish your goals simply from an efficiency standpoint. Everything is a good thing. There is no such thing as failure. Getting fired, breaking up with your long time boyfriend and yes, even death. Don’t find your way around obstacles, find your way through the obstacles. I especially liked the interview with Tim Ferriss at the end of the audiobook.

The One Thing by Gary Keller

Recommended For: Coaches, Entrepreneurs and Athletes

 

You know how it goes. You’re doing homework/work/family stuff and the notifications begin. Messages, Facebook, Venmo, Email. Ringing, buzzing and lighting up. Could you imagine if you could just completely unplug for a whole day? One whole day? How much faster would you get to where you want to be? This book serves as an excellent reminder of just how easily we become distracted from our main goal. Open concept houses and offices are great for interaction, but horrible for productivity. Keller not only sells you on solitude, he gives you strategies of how to achieve silence and avoid distractions in your daily life to get you headed down a path that really gets you to that ONE thing that you want.

The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh

Recommended For: Coaches

Topic: Extreme Culture Change. From 0 to 100 Real Quick.

 

Summary: Bill Walsh details his process as a coach in his journey through a FAST culture change in the late 80’s with the San Francisco 49er’s. This book so perfectly outlines the dichotomy that is leadership. I drew just as much from his personal accounts as I did from his coaching accounts. He speaks on his struggles with pressure, loneliness and even depression. Excellent read for coaches who are attempting to create a culture change within an organization.

Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

Recommended For: EVERYONE! 

 

This short read is on repeat in my playlist. The premise of the book contrasts the difference between animals and humans. Animals instinctively adapt on a minute-to-minute basis until they die while humans attach emotion to changes that occur in life. This makes it hard to change at times. If we can simply learn to predict change, see it for what it is and come to understand that the contrast in our lives is simply getting us closer to where we want to be, we will be so much better off. This book is a good reminder of just how positive change can be in our lives if we let it happen naturally and go with the flow when it comes our way.

Win Forever by Kristoffer Garin

Recommended For: Coaches and Athletes

Topic: Compete. Compete, compete, compete

 

Summary: Be excellent in your pursuits. Coach Carroll is arguably one of the most famous change leaders in sports. If you haven't heard about the electric culture that he created with USC and then with the Seahawks, you NEED to read this book. I often refer back to this book when I get stuck in the mentality that I am working with a bunch of hard-nosed stubborn professional athletes. The truth of the matter is, every athlete wants to compete with energy and we have to create an environment in which they can do it to the best of their ability.

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