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If you’re looking for a good book on leadership that’s easy to read and not too long, then Dr. Henry Cloud’s 9 Things A Leader Must Do is for you.  It’s written in a simple, straightforward manner, but manages to remain personal at the same time.  Dr. Cloud gives enough life stories to explain his point, but not too much.

I’ve always loved reading leadership books by John Maxwell, but sometimes his books are just too long and could not be really considered “light reading.”  Over the Holy Week break, I read Dr. Cloud’s book and liked it a lot.  I found myself relating to his 9 principles/things to do.

I’m sharing just a few insights I learned from this book.

On Handling Difficult People

  • Take responsibility for your own reactions and how you let difficult people get to you.  There is always a better way to react to a particular situation or person.
  • Manage your expectations.  This is so true! I always expect too much from myself and put the same expectations on others – hence I always get disappointed.
  • Do not depend on them for things they cannot give – approval, love and validation. This is related to the previous point.  I expect others to like me, love me, validate me, give me their approval.  But maybe they are not the people from whom I should be looking for these things.
On Achieving our Dreams
  • We can achieve big goals by taking small steps over time.  This is actually common sense, but many people still find this very hard to do.  Dr. Cloud explains why:  “Wanting it all right now keeps you from having any.”
  • Do not take any action without considering its future implications.  We need to see not just the good that may happen in the future, but also the bad so that we can prepare ahead.
Although the title says “9 Things A Leader Must Do,”  this book isn’t just for people who are in a leadership position already.  It’s for everyone who wants to take hold of their life and lead it in the direction they wish to.  After all, you don’t need to be “Senior Manager,” “Director,” or “Head” in order to be a leader.
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I’m reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point right now.  It’s really a great book.  I think it’s even better than Blink, his other book which is also a number 1 international bestseller.

While Blink convinces us that “decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately,” The Tipping Point talks about how ideas, products, messages, and behaviors spread like viruses.  According to Gladwell, the Tipping Point is “the moment of critical mass,  the threshold, the boiling point.”  It’s the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.”  It explains three rules of epidemics and talks about how sometimes big changes follow from small events, and that sometimes these changes can happen very quickly.

The book is only 259 pages long, but it’s packed with many interesting facts that blew me away!  Here are some of them:

1.  Suppose you are given a large piece of paper, and you’re asked to fold it once over, and then take the folded paper and fold it over again, and then again, and again, until you have refolded the original paper 50 times.  Do you know how tall the final stack would be?  Well, according to the book, the height of the stack would approximate the distance to the sun!  That’s the law of geometric progression working for you!

2.  We normally think that emotion goes inside-out, that is, our emotions are a reflection of our inner state.  But research shows the opposite could be true, too – emotions can go outside-in.  There are people who are very good in expressing emotions and feelings and they are far more emotionally contagious than others.  Psychologists call them senders, and aside from having special personalities, they are also physiologically different.  For example, the location of their facial muscles are different from those who are “less emotionally contagious.”  Just like in the spreading of a disease, there are carriers and there are people who are particularly susceptible to being affected with the carrier’s emotions.  (So this explains why some people can actually help cure a bad mood!)

3.  When Sesame Street was originally conceived, the Muppets were only filmed with other Muppets, and the street scenes were always filmed with real persons (adults and children).  But when researchers tested the show in the summer of 1969, they found out that children would give their full attention to the TV screens whenever the Muppets would appear but they would lose interest when the scenes would involve adults and children only.  Going against the advice of developmental psychologists not to mix reality and fantasy, they decided to put the Muppets together with the adults and kids on the street scenes – and that’s when Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird, and Mr. Snuffleupagus were born!

4.  Gladwell says that the success of Sesame Street can be attributed to the fact that the producers learned how to make television sticky.  Considering that the show has survived for the last 40 years, no children’s show could be stickier.  Right?  Wrong!  Research has found out that there is a children’s television show that’s even stickier than Sesame Street and that is Blues Clues!  If you want to find out why, go buy the book and read it!

A good friend recently introduced me to Michael Connelly.  He’s a best-selling author of crime and suspense novels.  I’ve always loved whodunit novels – an effect of having been exposed to Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys at an early age – and when I discover a good author, I would try to read all his/her books.  Hence, I have a collection of James Patterson, Richard North Patterson, and Patricia Cornwell novels. 

So far, I have read three Connelly novels – The Poet, The Narrows and The Closers.  The first two were loaned to me by my friend and I found the third at NBS and decided to buy it.  What I like about his books is the non-stop action and he just keeps you guessing.  If you’re a crime and suspense book fan, Connelly should definitely be on your list. 🙂

I've always wanted to read classic novels, but I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it.  I thought it would be boring and I'd be lost in the archaic language.  Boy, am I wrong!  Right now, I'm reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo and I'm totally immersed into it.  (See, I'm at work and I'm thinking of my book!). 

Even though Hugo wrote it in 1862 (he completed this 1,200 page book in only 14 months), it can still be a novel for our times.  It could very well be set in the modern times – kaya nga classic sya eh!  I'm only a fifth through the book, but I just can't seem to put it down.  I read it at every opportunity given to me – before bedtime, on the breakfast table, in the bathroom (of course!), and even when I'm in the car on the way to work.  Today, though, I left it at home because I had to commute to work.

Anyway, I'm so blown away by this novel.  Victor Hugo is a genius!!!  Can't wait to get home and read, read, read!