5 books to help you grow

My reading has always been somewhat eclectic so don’t be suprised by these 5 books to help you grow. From legal treatises, works of theology, summaries of psychological research, and literature from a variety of english speaking traditions – I thought i’d share some of the books that have been lugged around in my suitcase and graced my nightstand early in 2018.

Tables in the Wilderness

Tables in the Willderness 5 books to help you grow

My first book for 2018 was “Tables in the Wilderness” by Preston Yancey – in those heady days after new year when the world could do with a little quiet. Reading books written by friends is a great joy.  Tables in the Wilderness is a reflection on a season in Preston’s life drawing together threads of philosophy, theology, and a journey from Texas to Scotland and back again. This is less business as a challenge to not compartmentalize your spiritual life from your professional life.

It is a little strange to find yourself mentioned (not by name) in the text, but still a great joy. Preston and I have paths that intersected in both Texas and Scotland, and I have enjoyed quite a few meals at his table, and he at mine.

I am also looking forward to reading Hilary Yancey’s (Preston’s wife) about to be released book. Hilary is a brilliant writer and her forthcoming book is on my watchlist.

I am fortunate to have quite a collection of books written by friends and colleagues. It is good to be reminded of their thoughtful brilliance. But not everyone on my reading list is someone i know!

Start with Why

5 books to help you grow start with why sinek rabeSimon Sinek has become a thought leader in growing organizations that consistently push forward toward a clear goal. I found Sinek’s “Start With Why” thought provoking.

It reinforced much of how and why Anna Blanch Rabe & Associates does business – but that doesn’t mean I didn’t find myself examining much of what it means to create a culture and build a coherent team. So, let’s start with why, and return to the why over and over again.

What is your why? 

My why is “I place a high value on doing Meaningful Work as means unto itself” – this includes clear communication of legal principles and concepts, sharing well written profiles of inspiring individuals and organizations, and empowering organizations so they can substantially move the needle in positively impacting social and community development.

This Why is why I have such a diverse background – i find my why lived out in a variety of contexts and seek not to compartmentalize! The means and context are flexible. Is this the case for you? What is your why?

Good to Great

5 books to help you grow jim collinsI am of the opinion that audio books come into their own when authors read the text. If that’s important to you too, Jim Collins reads his own book in the audio version.

“Good to great” was thought provoking, challenging and filled with data that makes you think. The data can be a little overwhelming but hang in there – because the data means that the rest of Jim Collins is saying isn’t just a flight of fancy.

I’m not entirely clear on my personal takeaways from “Good to Great” but I did find myself assessing my own strengths and weaknesses based on Collins comments about the strengths of the Good to Great CEO’s and companies.

This is not a story of the “get rich quick” set, because it focuses on long term better-than-market growth and the reputation and assessment of the CEOs of those good to great companies. What will take you from Good to Great?


Daring Greatly

Daring Greatly 5 books to help you growOkay, I’ll say what others have – Brené Brown’s voice is way better and more engaging than the reader of the audio book. I did listen to the audio book all the way through but it was painful at times.

But Daring Greatly takes you to new heights and then reminds you that we are all human over and over again.  Vulnerability can be scary but it is amazing how linked vulnerability and leadership are in practice. It is, all about Daring Greatly!

Brené Brown shares a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that has meant much to me since my grandmother shared it with me when i was a teenager:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” 

Along with Dr. Brené Brown’s assertion that vulnerability is the greatest measure of courage, I have found myself seeking to exercise those vulnerability muscles in both my professional and personal interactions. Interestingly enough, even though my attorney colleagues and I would often joke about our social worker colleagues tendency to “feel all the feelings,” I can now see that working with these much more emotionally in tune professionals has helped me as a professional, as an attorney, and as an advocate. I would recommend Daring Greatly to anyone who desires to improve their relationships, and live a life of authenticity.


Grit 5 books to help you grow

Angela Duckworth’s Grit is about stick-to-it-iveness. Passion, perseverance and hanging in there when times get tough. Scientifically based and thoroughly researched, Duckworth’s book hit me right in the feels and in the temporal lobe!

Grit provides a way to measure both your perseverance and your passion, but makes it clear that these are not set, and you can develop skills that will increase or change your grit score.

At times this book made me uncomfortable, because it required me to honestly self-reflect, and that doesn’t always feel good. But, it was worth the effort, and I found myself hopeful about the areas I seek to dedicate specific and intentional practice.

As an extrovert, getting to a place where I comfortably focus on working on skills alone used to be something I found difficult, however I recognise in myself some of the aspects of intentional practice which have helped me grow professionally. Have you read Grit? what did you think? Buy your own copy!


There are many more books on my to-read list – we have a bit of a book buying problem in our household – but I would love to hear what’s on your reading list for 2018! These are just 5 books to help you grow!

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