Welcome to the Monthly Reading List Newsletter! Each month I will share a few thoughts on 3-5 books I’m reading and why I think you should pick them up. So, if you enjoy this email, please forward it to friends and family and help us continue to grow! Also, make sure you sign-up for our The Sunday Email where each week we will share a quote/passage from a book and a short insight.
My Green Notebook: "Know Thyself" Before Changing Jobs has been way more successful than Cassie and I could have imagined. To say thank you to everyone, we're selling copies of the book at a discounted price of $10 each for those who order 5 or more copies for their teams. Reply to this email if you would like more info and a custom FTGN box for your team. Also, watch this video of author Steven Pressfield sharing his thoughts on our book!
Routines and Habits
If you are like me, you embrace routine. When we have routines, execution becomes almost effortless. For the last couple of years, it has been easy for me to read, write, reflect, and workout every morning because I made these activities part of my daily routine.
Everything was going smoothly until life got in the way.
When I deployed overseas last month, my routine couldn’t come too. Once I got to my destination, I stopped reading, didn’t have time to write, and reflection was nearly impossible. It was a tough adjustment. So, I stopped doing the things I enjoyed doing, and that sucked.
I felt a tension between meeting the demands of my job and doing those activities that ensured I brought my best self to meet those demands. I was stuck.
Then, one morning I remembered some advice I lifted from James Clear’s Atomic Habits:
Habits are the compound of interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make the little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous.
I began to make time for my habits by taking advantage of “time confetti”. These are small pieces of free time throughout our day that most of us usually spend scrolling through our phones or checking and rechecking emails. I whipped out a book on a 20-minute helicopter ride. I jotted down a few bullets in my journal each day. I found small 5-minute windows to write. I dragged my butt to an empty room and did body weight workouts for 10-15 minutes a day. It took an effort to these things outside of my routine, and there were plenty of days I didn’t want to do any of it, but I’m glad I figured it out.
This experience reinforced three lessons for me. First, we can’t become so reliant on our routines that when life throws us a curveball, we give it all up. Instead, we have to take advantage of time confetti to exercise our good habits. Second, habits have a compounding effect. Those helicopter rides added up, those small windows produced a couple of new posts, and I didn’t completely fall out of shape. Finally, if we’re sacrificing our mental health because our schedule won’t allow for activities that fill our cups, we need to double down and work even harder to find the time.
Below are the two books I was able to finish using small chunks of time. One is about becoming a better person and the other is about solving problems with sustainable solutions.
The Reading List
The War of Art: Break through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. I’ve read and reread this book at least once a year for the last several years. While Steve wrote the book for fellow writers, the message of this book is applicable to all of us: When we try to do something to make our lives better, there will be obstacles and we must fight through them.
He calls the force that prevents us from growth, Resistance (with a capital R). He writes, “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.” A few months ago Cassie and I were on the verge of hiring an editor to help us write a book proposal for our next big project. We were literally about to make our first payment when I received an unexpected mission, and we didn't know when I would be back. We put the project on hold. In the past, I would have taken it as a sign the book wasn’t meant to be. I now know better; it’s Resistance.
Steve’s book is a must-read for anyone with a growth mindset. Whether we are trying to get back into the gym, spend more time with family, or want to set out on a new career path, Resistance will strike.
See, Solve, Scale: How Anyone Can Turn an Unsolved Problem into a Breakthrough Success by Danny Warshay. He is the creator of one of Brown University’s most popular courses, the Entrepreneurial Process. In the book, Warshay argues that entrepreneurship is, “a structured process for solving problems without regard to the resources currently controlled.”
Too often, leaders and organizations come up with “innovative ideas” that don’t actually solve problems. Therefore, Warshay urges people with an entrepreneurial mindset to follow the process of doing bottom-up research to identify an unmet need (see), develop solutions to solve the problem (solve), and ensure those solutions are sustainable (scale).
The book serves as a textbook for entrepreneurship and is full of proven methods that have launched many companies and product lines. While the book is geared towards entrepreneurs in the private sector, the process he outlines is beneficial for any organization.
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One more thing: Thanks for opening my monthly reading list email, if you have any book recommendations or questions, please feel free to reply. I read every response and if I have the time, respond.
- Television host and author Matt Paxton discusses methods for people to declutter their homes and organize their lives.
- Author and Air Force officer Mark Jacobsen explores failure and how we can grow from it.
- Retired Marine Corps Colonel and Author, Tom Gordon, shares his decades of leadership experience and talks concepts that can be put into everyday practice.
All the best,
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