Best Reads Of 2021

It is a worthwhile endeavor to review the books you’ve read in the last year.  While I read many books last year, I am only submitting my favorites to you.  These were the most impactful and the most entertaining.  As you peruse my summaries, you may recognize these two patterns: adventure and process.

First, I love adventurous people. Their ability to cast a vision along with their determination in achieving it is amazing.  You’ll find these in the Mayflower, Lights Out, Swell, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Madhouse At The End Of the Earth.  They remind me of the cost that comes with great adventures.  More than that, they are important reminders that the journey is always sweeter than the end.   

Second, there are several books that are less about the story and more about the process.  The authors pull back from the story to dissect and describe the mindsets, habits and activities required to successfully navigate the journey.  Turning Pro, Dear Sugar, The 10X Rule and Winning the War in Your Mind are great examples.

As a side note, you will notice that I use Audible occasionally.  I like this because it saves me time.  I listen while I’m in the car, or on a walk.  But, they are not as good.  I don’t like audio books because I don’t digest them the same way.  I don’t have highlights and it’s difficult to take notes.  It is not my first choice, but it’s better than the alternative.

I pray the best of 2022 for all of you. That the Lord may bless and keep you, his face shine upon you, be gracious to you. That he will show you his favor and give you peace ~ Numbers 6:24-26


Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ For Sinners and Sufferers, Dane C. Ortlund

Our worlds are shaped by our perceptions, or more specifically, your beliefs shape your reality.  This is why AW Tozer says that “what you think about when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”  Unfortunatley, many of us have a distorted view of God.  These views are built upon the world we live in and how we think it works rather than who God he says he is.  IN order to sort this out, we need a resource that is not about the world.  Thankfully, we have one. Its called the Bible.

In Gentle and Lowly, Ortlund skillfully dissects the Biblical traits of Jesus.  Perhaps the most striking, for me is that Jesus leads with mercy, not wrath.  Now, that is not news to me, but I do find resistance to the concept.  As I read it and adopt the picture of Jesus that Orlund paints, I find peace.  With that peace, comes renewal.I am reminded of my distortions when reading this book.  It skillfully pinpoints the misbeliefs and misperceptions I have of God.  More importantly, Ortlund gives me a clearer picture of who God is and who I am created to be.  

Mayflower: A Study of Courage, Community and War, Nathaniel Philbrick

From start to finish, the Pilgrims struggled.  While there were many opportunities to quit, or turn back, the perservered.  It was their compelling vision and unrelenting commitment to achieve it that made it work.  These are the traits that shaped our nation.  Our belief that anything is possible, starts here.  I know that it is true, because they did it.

Lights Out: Pride, Delusion and the Fall of General electric (Audible), Thomas Gryta and Ted Mann

Holy crap, I did not know all of this about General Electric.  It reminds me that the inside of a company is rarely what it looks like on the outside.  What happens to an organization when egos and politics reign supreme?  If I am not careful, I replace discovery with criticism.  When I find myself there, my mind closes and I fail to learn the essential lessons of leadership, courage and calling that are the buried treasures in the events that unfold.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz: A Novel, Heather Morris

How do you respond to negative circumstances?  Can you do what must be done?  This book caused me to explore what it means not just to survive, but to thrive in every circumstance.  It also requires that I determine the boundaries of morality.  What lengths would you go to, for example, to save yourself from death?  What if you could save 1,000 people?  Morris crafts an amazing story that blends all of these 

Madhouse at the End of The Earth: The Belgica’s Journy. Into the Dark Antarctic Night, Julian Sancton

I think each of us have an itch to discover something new.  To be on the forefront exploring new things.  Along with that itch comes a deep seated fear of ridicule and failure.  Guess what?  That actually happened to the explorers on the Belgica.  This is a fascinating story of the planning and determination required to do something for the first time.  It illustrates the mindsets and activiets required to succeed, sometimes at a very high cost.  Just as important, for me, is the retooling of ourselves once the journey is complete.

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordianary athletic performance, David Epstein

Do your gifts and talents support your goals?  I learned in the 6th grade that I was not a gifted to play basketball or football.  Fact is that we all have gifts and talents that support something.  Odds are, you are drawn to that activity.  You enjoy it.  Unfortunately, few of us actually train in conjunctions with our gifts to become truly successful.  David Epstein shows that when we effectively train to our own physiology and psychology, we will finally unlock the secrets to becoming who we were created to be.

BE 2.0 (Beyond Enteprenuership 2.0), Jim Collins

Ive read dozens of books and listented to plenty of podcasts about enteprenuership and leadership.  None of them, come close to this book.  Jim Collins flips my idea of building businesses and helps me to see them for what they are.  In short, businesses are about people.  He says, “most exceptional leaders grow into their capabilities. Not because they want to “be” a great leader, but because they’re trying to be worthy of the people they lead.”  You see, we can all become leaders.  But, we have to choose to become a great leader.  For me, making that choice determines whether or not I will be a worthy leader.

Swell: A Saling Surfer’s Voyage of Awakening, Liz Clark

What are you passionate about?  If you could do that thing, everyday, what would your life look like? For Liz Clark, it was sailing and surfing.  Of course, her journey was not all fun and games.  That’s the beauty of this story.  She sums it up perfectly, saying “chasing my dream has taught me that fulfillment and self-love don’t come from being “the best.” They come from pursuing our passions and connecting to our own spirits, communities, and world.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Who Not How, Dan Sullivan with Dr. Benjamin Hardy

The title says it all.  As entrepreneurs, we are quick to ask the question “how can this be done.”  Your world changes, however, when the question becomes “who can do this?”  I am awash in feelings of freedom and relief within this new framework.  Now, I have two ongoing challenges.  The first is how to adopt this mindset permanently.  The second is learning to become a better team player.  Maybe you’ll see some of this show up in my 2022 reading list.

Winning the War In Your Mind, Craig Groeschel

“Your life is moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts.”  Ouch.  If you were able to see inside my mind and discover my strongest thoughts, you would be terrified.  That’s why I love this book.  It gives me an opportunity to analyze my thoughts and hold them accountable for my results. Thankfully, there is hope.  Groeschel also reminds me that “who [I] become in the future is determined by what I think about today.”  This is a great exercise in what to think about.

Perform Under Pressure, Ceri Evans

Evidence or emotion?  These have become simple descriptors to determine my current level of thinking.  In Perform Under Pressure, Dr Ceri Evans takes a deep dive into how our emotions affect our thinking.  Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “get comfortable being uncomfortable.”  That’s easier said than done.

The Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, Cheryl Strayed

If you think are are alone and suffering unique circumstances, think again.  Everyone has struggles.  In fact, Dear Sugar helps me to see that many of my struggles are similar to those of others.  That, however, is not the best part of The Beautiful Things.  The best part of this book is Sugar, herself.  Despite her own horrific journey, love prevails.  When you read this book, you will see it to.  Its in her care, her candor, her sympathies and her encouragement.  This is what I love about this book.

Turning Pro, Steven  Pressfield

When you think of someone that is a pro, who do you think of?  The easiest for me is an athlete.   You already know what separates an amateur from a professional, but in Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield takes our understanding to the next level.  Evidence supports that most of us will always be amateurs.  Why?  Because choosing to be a pro requires that we become something that we are not already.  Rather than forge into the unknown, we hide in the shadows hoping and dreaming about what could be.  In the shadows, we think we are safe.  Safe from criticism and safe from failure.  But, we are not.  Our failure to act causes anxiety and frustration that quickly turn into running away.  We run ro alcohol, television and social media in an attempt to numb the pain of becoming who we know we are created to be.  There is only one solution.  Decide to Turn Pro.  This alters what you need to know and how to think in order to become who you were created to be.

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