Ten of my Top Books For Leaders (Part 1)

Dr Ivan Joseph
December 21, 2020
2020 has been a lot of things, and for me one of the more optimistic aspects of this past year has been an opportunity to reflect.
I am a big believer in the power of books. They have had such a tremendous impact on my leadership and coaching philosophies. In fact, one of my favorite books is one I picked up in an abandoned ‘haunted’ house in rural Iowa — and it influenced me to change my University major, and become a soccer coach.
Having recently moved provinces, in packing and unpacking my belongings, I’ve been rediscovering my book collection. Specifically, I have had a lot of joy reflecting on the books that helped shape me into the leader I am today.
Without further ado, (and in no particular order), here are my 10 of my Leadership favorites:

They Call Me Coach, by John Wooden

Wooden taught me that coaching is not about x’s and o’s, but about leadership and teaching people. From teaching people how to put on their shoes and trim their facial hair – it was his attention to detail that made him a champion time and time again.

I have applied these principles to my everyday life and to the teams I lead with great success.

The legendary coach talks about his life, his players, and his winning philosophies in this bestselling autobiography.

From the everyday basics to important life lessons (I really like this one: “It’s not how tall you are, but how tall you play”), Wooden shares his worldly wisdom on and off the court to offer a personal history of an unforgettable time in college basketball, answering the most-asked questions about his life, his career, and the players who made his teams unbeatable.

MAKE THE BIG TIME WHERE YOU ARE, by Frosty Westering

I was coaching in a small Iowa town and was looking to get out as soon as possible. I was jealous of what all the other schools had: the fancy gear, the neat trips, the stadium lights. I wanted all of those bobbles and bright lights to be mine and thought I had to leave to find it. I remember reading this book and realizing that I had control of what I wanted and it was in my power to create it. This book helped me elevate my expectations and the level of those around me to achieve more.

Description: THE BIG TIME. What is it? Where is it? Most people really don’t know for they aren’t sure what they are looking for. This book will reveal to you what THE BIG TIME is all about in its natural state. It will take you on an inspiring breakaway experience that will show you the different pieces of the puzzling BIG TIME. You will then be able to put these pieces together & discover for yourself this fascinating secret that can change your life. You will want to read & reread key chapters of this book numerous times as you begin to experience the genuine pay value of making THE BIG TIME WHERE YOU ARE!

Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior, by Phil Jackson, Hugh Delehanty

For the first 15 years of my coaching career, I gave this book to every person I coached. This was the first book I ever read about the power of the team versus the individual. However, it also emphasized the importance of autonomy and freedom for the individual to thrive in a team.

Not only is there more to life than basketball, there’s a lot more to basketball than basketball.” – Phil Jackson

In his thought-provoking memoir, Jackson revealed how he directs his players to act with a clear mind—not thinking, just doing; to respect the enemy and be aggressive without anger or violence; to live in the moment and stay calmly focused in the midst of chaos; to put the “me” in service of the “we”. These inspirational lessons are applicable to any person’s life, not just a professional basketball player’s.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink

Many leaders believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. Daniel Pink believes that is a mistake, and that leaders must find innovative and creative ways to tap into deep-seated desires: the need to be autonomous in our work, to get better at what we like to do and to find greater purpose in life.

Mindset The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck

What you believe affects what you achieve.

After decades of research, Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., discovered a simple but groundbreaking idea: the power of mindset. In this brilliant book, she shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. In experiment after experiment, Dweck finds that people with a fixed mindset — those who believe that abilities are fixed — are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset — those who believe that abilities can be developed. Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishment.

Catch Them Being Good: Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Coach Girls by Tony DiCicco, Charles Salzberg, Colleen Hacker

What you believe affects what you achieve.

After decades of research, Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., discovered a simple but groundbreaking idea: the power of mindset. In this brilliant book, she shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. In experiment after experiment, Dweck finds that people with a fixed mindset — those who believe that abilities are fixed — are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset — those who believe that abilities can be developed. Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishment.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach

A book about a seagull? Yes.
This is a beautiful story for people who follow their hearts, make their own rules, and are willing to listen to their inner calling. For people who get special pleasure out of doing something well, even if only for themselves, and who know there’s more to this life than meets the eye.
Timeless and inspirational.

Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives, by Dan Millman

Dan Millman a world champion athlete  who journeys into realms of romance and magic, light and darkness, body, mind, and spirit. Guided by a powerful old warrior named Socrates and tempted by an elusive, playful woman named Joy, Dan is led toward a final confrontation that will deliver or destroy him. Along his journey, Dan learns to live as a peaceful warrior, and reveals piercing truths and humorous wisdom, speaking directly to the universal quest for happiness.

Reach for the Summit, by Pat Summitt, Sally Jenkins

Pat Summitt, head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols, is a phenomenon in women’s basketball.  Her ferociously competitive teams have won three NCAA championships in a row, and helped set record after record. 

This motivational read presents Summitt’s formula for success, which she calls the “Definite Dozen System” including responsibility, discipline, and loyalty, and instructs how you apply it to your own situation.  Summitt uses her own remarkable story as a vehicle for explaining how anyone can transform themselves through ambition. 

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, by Shawn Achor

Conventional wisdom claims that success fuels happiness. Achor, and his studies in the field of positive psychology show that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe.

Using stories and case studies from his work with thousands of Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries, Achor explains how we can reprogram our brains to become more positive in order to gain a competitive edge and achieve higher goals.

Bonus: Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson, M.B.

Most people are fearful of change, both personal and professional, because they don’t have any control over how or when it happens to them. Since change happens either to the individual or by the individual, Johnson uses a deceptively simple story to show that when it comes to living in a rapidly changing world, what matters most is your attitude.

Exploring a simple way to take the fear and anxiety out of managing the future, Who Moved My Cheese? Helped me discover how to anticipate, acknowledge, and accept change in order to have a positive impact on your job, your relationships, and every aspect of your life.

What are your favorites?

I love hearing from you. Keep sharing your feedback, and as always, contact me anytime at hello@drivanjoseph.com or through our social channels @drivanjoseph

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