David Fabricius, an internationally known speaker, once related a story at a seminar I attended that I will always remember. He grew up very poor in rural South Africa, and he noticed something fascinating when he boarded an airplane for the first time: seating was assigned according to reading material!
First class was for people who read leadership, personal improvement, and spiritual books. Business class was for people who read management books.
Economy was for people who read fashion magazines and chewed bubble gum!
Now, of course, he laughs and realizes that he was mistaken back then—but there is something fascinating about the literature we choose to read and what it makes of us. The higher the quality of our reading material:
Or, in other words, if we read material that is first class, then we become first class. No matter the genre!
Parents are leaders. We feel the same urgency as CEOs to know what works with human nature—and fast! Businesses can't thrive unless they deliberately use proven and successful methods. Families can be the same way.
Parents, like CEOs, seek to bring out the best in people, inspire others, and help people learn accountability. We set a tone and culture, and we try to maximize outcome. So you can understand why my interest immediately perks up when I see a book about leaders bringing their people to success. Though I have a long way to go, I want to be that kind of a leader. I want to be that kind of a mother.
With that in mind, I would like to share just a few of my favorite incognito “parenting” books–business and professional resources that have had a direct influence on my parenting. Even though I haven’t worked outside the home for over a decade, the timeless principles in these books help my life every single day.
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey: This is a classic that has been helping people for decades. My family needs self-mastery, teamwork, cooperation, and a host of other things just as much as any corporation. This book provides a great road map for it. These are proven principles on how to change myself, before I work within a family or other team.
If you are familiar with the principles in this book (like I was-my dad's a big fan), DON"T make the same mistake I did: I thought I didn't need to read it. Let me tell you, this book is chock full of amazing insight, it prompted me to look deep within myself, and no amount of Cliff's Notes, or casual conversations about it's principles can ever take it's place. If you can only read one book on this list, this is it!
Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute: This book brilliantly shows that the way I treat people and my honesty to myself about my actions can change a situation in an instant. When I follow the principles of this book, I recognize that by being honest with myself, I can solve most of the problems in my home. I LOVE this book. I love how it changes me and how it changes the way I view and treat others. This book is a "must read" as well.
Essentialism by Greg McKeown: Actively choosing what we want in our life is a privilege we often overlook. Too often we get distracted (Pinterest or Facebook, anyone?) from what is most important. This book helps me to “discern the trivial many from the vital few.” It challenges me to identify and act on the most important priorities. It also helps me take these priorities and do them singlemindedly and successfully while ignoring all the rest. It gives freedom and peace. Love this book!
The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz: If you are like me, you probably have a lot to do—maybe more than you think you can ever get done. This book shows that by using strategic rests, we are actually a lot more happy and healthy, and we get more done than if we were to burn the candle on both ends. My patience and my relationships with my kids are directly affected when I am tired or have been working too hard. This book helps me to not feel guilty about taking some time off.
Drive by Daniel Pink: How are people truly motivated? Rewards? Punishments? Or could it be something else entirely? Whether it’s a two year old or a teenager, every mom needs the answer to this question! And this book provides just that.
MichaelHyatt.com: Power of Moms founder April Perry first introduced me to Michael, and I love his website. Many of his blog posts and podcasts are about intentional leadership and personal development—right up a deliberate mother’s alley.
Surprisingly, an additional benefit that I hadn’t anticipated from reading these business classics is a better marriage! Have you ever gone on a date and not known what to talk about besides the kids? (Sad, but true sometimes.) My husband has also read these books for his career, and we have great conversations about the universal principles taught in them. These books have given us a great commonality.
We talk about leadership, his job, the people he works with, his goals and frustrations, and how these books relate to them or help solve problems. I feel very integrated into that part of his life and he feels listened to, strengthened, and supported. Then I share my perspective about our family within the framework of these principles. We are closer and more of a team both professionally and as parents. An extra bonus: these books are sure to help if you find yourself struggling through uncomfortable small talk at a company party!
Perhaps the next time you decide to snuggle with a blanket on the couch and read, instead of reaching for your regular book, try a business leadership book or another high quality unconventional parenting book instead.
Welcome to first class, baby!
Community Question: What other books would you add to this list? I love Simon Sinek's books as well!
Hi, I'm Jen! I adore chocolate, I'd rather read than clean my house, and I haven't seen my abs in I-don't-know-how-long. But I love my husband and kids to death and try to Raise The Good within myself and my family by making wise and uplifting media choices and having a deliberate family culture. You are probably doing the same thing. Let's share what works with each other!
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