In my two year's at Hedgerow I have read a lot, perhaps more than I ever did in my time at college or in the two years post graduation. During this time, I've devoured everything from books on acting and improv to novels and essays. Each book has led me to a deeper understanding of my craft and of my self. Here are five recent books that stand out in my mind:
1. Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning"
Frankl's 1946 book chronicling his experiences as an Auschwitz inmate during World War II, and describing his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life in order to life of meaning. Part One constitutes Frankl's analysis of the concentration camps, while Part Two introduces his theory of logotherapy. Frankl's book makes this list because it is the foundation of some many of the other book's I have read. Though each book offers something unique, so many of the books I have read boil down to the same question: what is our purpose? In this regard, there is no better book to read and inspire thank Frankl's master work on the search of one's answer to why.
2. Geoff Colvin's "Talent is Overrated"
Hard work and Talent: these are the two modes of thought when it comes to sports and art. Why is Mozart great? How was Jerry Rice great? The truth, there is no scientific evidence to support the notion that specific natural talents make great performers. Both the hard work and natural talent camps are wrong. Deliberate practice makes the difference. The idea of achieving flow through our work and creating time and time again the scenarios to raise our ability and challenge us to new heights. This book we the first book to challenge my thoughts of talent and inspire me to continue a pursuit of knowledge and move towards a growth mindset.
3. Malcom Gladwell's "Blink" and "Outliers"
Two for one! "Blink" for improv thoughts and "Outliers" for building a new mindset.
"Blink" reveals how great decision makers aren't the ones who poses the most information, but those who have learned to filter the few factors that matter from the ones that don't. Focus on the things that matter, and don't overload yourself with useless information.
"Outliers" explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. And it connects back to Colvin's ideas of deliberate practice, but also takes it a step further showing that when we were born, where we were born, and what influenced us does, in fact, matter.
Both of these books are great reads and get at the heart of what it is to be a great leader and a great performer, by examining the moments in life when choice matters most.
4. Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way"
Art is a habit, and this book can be a step in forming that habit. Eliminate the delusion of "blocks" and learn to treat yourself more kindly as an artist while continuing to build the day in and day out things necessary for great art and great focus.
5. Chade-Meng Tan's "Search Inside Yourself"
Meng’s job is to teach Google’s best and brightest how to apply mindfulness techniques in the office and beyond. This book is Meng's class: a simple guide on how to apply mindfulness techniques in your day and in your work. A perfect introduction to the practice and a great way to step past your own emotions and ego.
Brock D. Vickers
This is the beginning of a new part of life: a habit: an idea: a routine to dig at what makes a man great.