Turning the pages: Books to save your soul or at least make you a little more happy at work and at home!

As long as I can recall, reading has been an important part of my life.  From the early childhood days of seeking escape and adventure, I found the Hardy Boys who opened up a whole world to me through pages.  I had been given many brand new copies, but there were a few books that had been found in library carts for $.50.  Books which had heavily worn covers and a distinct scent coming from the pages.  Those books created so much anticipation and excitement that I could not wait to begin devouring through the printed words found within the covers; stories that would unveil themselves and transport me into another time and place.  Not too long after I would be introduced to Steven King with Pet Cemetary…and you know the rest.  Reading has always been one of two methods of aiding my escape; in calming the wanderlust that lived in deep within me.

Literature has to this day calmed me when I needed to relax; shook me up when I needed some self revelations.  Reading has made me laugh, made me cry, made me grow and ponder what is it I want from this life.  Reading has made me cringe in imaginary pain ( Misery), and jump up and down in my bed with anticipation of what was to come.  It has kept me up all night on the edge of my chair, and lulled me to sleep.  It quiets my inner dialogue, and without fail can block out the stresses of the day.  The pages of a book, or in digital format now, are what lock the door on Horowitz, and allow Freddy the freedom to just play.

I read a lot.  It’s not uncommon to find books laying about the table next to the bed, strewn about the house, as well as in my locker at work; three or four different genres and each with pages marked, waiting to be picked up again.  Biographies, historical references, celtic meditations, self help, crime novels, and all things Masonic.  They are the great, and sometimes I think, forgotten teachers.  I will admit that I love using a Kindle now.  It’s an entire world of literature in your palm; no matter where you are.  But there is still a nostalgia and a connection of picking up a physical hard copy of a book, turning the pages and hearing the sounds they make as they turn.  Books have opened an entire world to me that I would have never known existed.

Upon taking a path in a new career I was foremost really intrigued by the culture within the company when I was offered a tour at an interview.  My mentor (yes I was given a mentor…how many companies do that) andI have a monthly meeting set up.  I can meet with him anytime but this meeting is a formal sit down at which we discuss thoughts, theory, progress, ideas, short term and long term goals, and how I’m coping.  At each of these I also have an assignment given that will be discussed at the following meeting.  So far each assignment has been….. YES! A BOOK!!!!  Each time he has given me a book to read and prepare a written summary for our next gathering.  Also, these gatherings do not necessarily have to take place in his office.  The option is always available to have these meetings over a breakfast or lunch at some local eatery.  It’s a custom in the company that I have never before seen.   If you can imagine a company taking the time to invest in its employees in that regard, you may be able to imagine how this may reflect on the grander scale.  I know it’s early in my path there, but I am excited to be a part of this team, a growing company which has had an employee go to Nasa for a competition this past month, has an astounding record of returning to college employees with company assistance, and whose President was just recently at the White House to talk about jobs.  A company with about 200 employees who actually care about what they’re making!

I digress, the books that have so far been assigned for reading are eye opening and fantastic books.  They are short reads, one of them I read in about 3 hours but I do read a little faster than others.  Each of them have a tendency to lean more towards the work culture, but have a direct correlation to the personal.  After all, in order to impact the large, you have to start small; in order to affect a small community, you have to start at home; in order to change the world you have to start with yourself.  That in their core is the nuts and bolts of these books if you read them.  They are about changing the culture in the workplace but starting with yourself.   Creating a healthy, energetic, positive environment that you would be happy to be in, which in turn so would others.  We all spend a good time in the workplace.  Some of us are in cubicles, some of us stock fish, some of us create amazing things, while others are responders, or mechanics, or engineers or CEO’s.  Each of us in some way however, is singularly responsible to create an environment that we all would want to be in.  Our jobs, the basic functions of our jobs, can be pretty mundane and boring for some, stressful situations for others, but that doesn’t mean that our environment has to be.

I’ve worked in some pretty difficult fields, I’ve had to play middle management in what at times was a hostile environment.  I wish I had these books during those times, but if I had, I would not be working for the company I am today.  So lets get to the books!

Book #1   QBQ The Question Behind the Question:  Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in LifeWritten by John G Miller (born in Ithaca NY) this book is an outstanding tool to not only show you where the negative energy stems from ( without failure it’s really ourselves) but more importantly how to change that based on the questions we ask ourselves and others.  The nuts and bolts? “What to really ask yourself to eliminate blame, complaining, and procrastination”  It’s right on the cover of the book!!  It was the first book I read in the mentor program and let me tell you it has impacted me in all of my thoughts.

Book #2  Fish! Philosophy  This book written by Stephen C. Lumdin, Ph.D., Harry Paul, and John Christensen is the next step in the sequence I believe.  Based on a Bank and the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle.  We have all experienced that work environment that just drags us down.  The “toxic energy dump” and the “zombies’ who exist there.  Perhaps the do 8 and hit the gate mentality that I have seen.  You know the constant thought of work being that prison you just can’t wait to escape from.  Who really wants to spend hours of their day in that mindset?  Staff that just seems miserable and mundane all the time.  Maybe this is more of an extreme to some but I’ve worked in those places.  In offices, on manufacturing floors and on construction sites.  This book is written as a story and incorporates an environment just like that, the difference being a woman finding a solution in a very unexpected place.  There are lessons to learn and teach within the covers of the book which show us once again, if we put the blame and complaining aside for just a minute, we can make any work place fun and a little exciting even, no matter what we do. If we can change our outlook, and we can change our attitudes, then we can change our environment and make it fun.

Book #3  This book is not on my Mentor’s list, however I read it previously to accepting this position within the company and I think it was one of the main reasons I was motivated enough to take the risk, and put myself in a circumstance that was very much outside of my comfort zone.  So glad I did.  I did send my mentor an email with the thought that he might be interested in this book and incorporating it in with the other two he has used with me thus far.

The One Thing; The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary ResultsWritten by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan.  We all seem to be in this race to get more, achieve more, and balance more.  The problem with that I think is that while we are putting more and more on our plates, and thinking we have it all under control… we’re losing our balance.  We’re spreading our focus and priorities our so far and wide that nothing is really achieved to the best of our abilities.  So what happens? Somethings come off quite well while others are lagging in the background.   Trying to balance too much means something is going to get neglected, something is going to be forgotten.  This book is a tool to help us really look at what is at hand and narrow down our focus to The One Thing.  What is the One Thing I have to do today, this week; at work, at home etc.  It sounds ridiculous at first, that I need to only handle one thing.  That’s exactly what I thought because if I only focused on one thing who the heck is going to pick up the rest of the 80 things I have to do.  It wasn’t until I opened these pages that I realized if I really look at what the One Thing is, the rest will work out.   I think, that thought I had, that there is no way I can just focus on one thing, was a sure fire way of knowing that I needed this book.

These books have been eye opening reads.  But I have to put them into practice to benefit any results.  I’m working on that.  Communicating more and more positively; taking more off my plate and focusing on the core of it all; trying to bring better energy into all of my surroundings, especially at home and at work.  I don’t know if they’re working, I don’t know if other people see anything different.  However, I feel a little bit freer; a little bit happier, and a lot less stressed out.  And that was highly unanticipated moving way outside of what I thought was my comfort zone.  Perhaps this is my comfort zone?

Until next time….keep reading!!!!!

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