I love reading, but I must confess that my favorite genre is fiction. Reading is what I do in my spare time, so I enjoy a well-written story that takes me to another place. But I also discipline myself to read non-fiction. Biographies and auto-biographies are my favorite because they read like novels. I also read quite a few books to do with the Bible or Christian living. And I try to read several books a year for professional development. These are three professional development books I've read recently.
Perhaps my favorite of the three is called Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. The author is Brian Tracy who is a motivational speaker and writer. Pretty much the summary of the book is if you do these 21 things you will be successful. Hmmmm, well, he's never lived where the unexpected and uncontrollable is part of every day, I guess. Never-the-less, he does offer some great tips and I found some of them helpful. I was also glad to see that some of what he suggests are things I already do.
Mr. Tracy says that "Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long." The premise is simple: Make a list of your tasks for the day. Which is the hardest and the most important? Do it first. If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.
Some of the other things he recommends doing are think on paper, plan every day in advance, tag your to-do list to indicate what is most important in descending order to least important and delegate what you can. He also talks quite a bit about the 80/20 rule.... 20% of your tasks will account for 80% of the value of what you do. So, if you have 10 tasks to do in a day and each of them takes the same amount of time to do, choose the one or two (the 20%) that have the greatest value to accomplish what you are trying to do (the 80%).
The second book I read was Mentor Like Jesus by Regi Campbell. Mr.
Campbell's main premise is to spend more time with fewer people and to really make a difference in their lives. He found he was meeting with 10-20 men regularly, but only for 30 minutes at a time and wasn't really making a big difference in their lives. So he started mentoring groups in which he meets monthly for several hours a month for a year with a group of about eight guys. His program is well-known and popular, so he spends time praying that God will send him the right men. Then the men have to fill out an application form and from that he chooses the guys who will be in the group. They have to sign a contract that they will come to every single meeting. He feels that the advantage to a group is that as they discuss things they are all learning from each other. It isn't just him telling what he knows, but them all sharing what they've learned in similar experiences. They also really keep each other accountable. And this is how Jesus mentored....he poured his life into 12 very specific people. The men also need to commit to mentoring so that what they have gained from the group is passed on to others.
And the third book is called The Servant: A Simple Story about the True Essence of Leadership by James Hunter. Instead of just writing a how-to book on leadership, Mr. Hunter writes a story in which a struggling leader goes on a
leadership retreat. The book recounts the discussions that the group had. Mr. Hunter did talk a lot about how leadership involves being a servant and showing love. I have a hard time writing a review for this book because we read it together in our Admin meetings, but there were so many interruptions with people going on vacation and so on, that I had a hard time getting the flow of the book. I don't think it had anything to do with the book itself. I feel like there were a lot of helpful things in the book, but as I said, I just am having a hard time pulling it together.