What did I Learn Reading a Book a Week in 2019?

I always dismissed my
inability to focus.  Outside of the
Harper’s Bazaar, for years reading was merely a holiday past time, the benefits
quickly forgotten within half an hour of returning from our annual summer break
at Noosa.

It was only when I
suddenly had too much time on my hands, when the silence in my head became
filled with anxiety, that I became acutely aware I had a problem.  One that needed to be quickly solved for my
own sanity. 

Recovering from my
lowest – acute burnout in 2017- I found respite from my brain in the pages of
my books & the shelves of my local book store. 10 pages to start, then a
chapter, then a half an hour continuous reading.  No pressure, just what I felt I could manage
at the time without my brain running off on a tangent.  If it did – I stopped.

Pretty soon I settled
in a comfortable pace, digesting a book a week. 
I found a passion for learning I never knew I had, sparking a creative
energy I hadn’t felt in years. 

Non-fiction was and is,
my happy place – leadership, high performance, fostering creativity and
developing trusted relationships.  Books
that make me a better person, better coach & better leader.  I couldn’t afford an MBA at the time, but by
golly I underestimated the power of what books combined with professional
experience could teach me. 

What did 2019 bring? 

Here is my yearly recount, woven with the book titles that have influenced my thoughts & instilled change in my beliefs & behaviour.  (Link to full list of 52 below )  Enjoy!

Patagonia’s founder
Yvon Chouinard kicked my year off with Let
my People Go Surfing
– an apt choice for the annual Noosa family pilgrimage.  Always one to choose quality over quantity,
my consciousness of sustainable fashion & waste was amplified after learning
the philosophy of this brand. 

Noosa was a great
place to start the 5am Club by Robin
Sharma given that is the time the town comes alive following the kookaburra’s
Aussie wake-up call in “the 4’s” – uggh! 
2 weeks of 5am, surfside, national park walks, instilled healthy Atomic Habits as suggested by James
Clear through his powerful & proven behaviour changing techniques.  Out with the old & in with fresh rituals
for the new year to set me up for success!

Back in Melbourne & on the tools, I continued my passion & the slow burn process of developing relationships based on trust.  The Trusted Advisor reminded me to keep my conversations less about me & more about others & the importance of giving rather than taking – a gesture often forgotten when we become too focused on our own networking objective, rather than ensuring it is a two-way street. 

You never know when the day will come when you can help others, or they can help you.

My keynote “Mastering
the Art of Selling Yourself” was merely a thought bubble at this time. Brendon
Burchard’s High Performance Habits
resonated deeply and helped ignite my inspiration.  His theory of transformation became a
stalwart exercise in understanding how to articulate the impact I made in my professional
life.  It is a title I recommend
frequently to coaching clients contemplating career growth and change.

How can others understand the impact we could make to their business, if we can’t articulate it ourselves? 

Quite simply, they can’t.

To prove this out, I pursued
a new vision in a different high-performance industry, with one of Australia’s
leading sporting organisations. Nailing my value was key.  If I didn’t make myself relevant to those I
was speaking to, I wouldn’t be remembered, let alone ever considered. 

To effectively sell
ourselves & get what we want out of our professional life, we need to
master how we describe our value to others. 
This becomes our story brand. 
Being Story Driven as
Bernadette Jiwa articulates, enables us to engage emotionally with our
audience.  Emotional Intelligence does lead to Sales Success as we seek to
understand the other person’s perspective. 

To sell myself
effectively in a totally different industry, I had to believe my sales
philosophy was effective – to sell based on curiosity & learning rather
than telling & directing. 

If we don’t seek to understand our client’s world, how can we make what we are selling relevant?

Firstly, we should all
consider removing our “judgement hat” when we are Talking with Strangers.  We
should consciously seek to learn rather than assume opinion.  Assumption a sure-fire way to book end an

I believe any
statement can be changed into a question. 
One which then enables us to gain a better understanding of the other
person’s perspective.  The Book of Beautiful Questions by
Warren Gerber is a great guide for crafting questions that help to connect with
others.  But remember, they are only
useful if you consciously make the changes to your conversation style.  It’s worth it – I promise!

As the year rolled on,
my coaching business grew through word of mouth & I kept investing in my
network.  As anyone in their own business
knows, timing is always an unknown & a risk you have to take.  I had to keep believing in myself to ride out
the ups & downs.  And there were
plenty!  Often, I found myself wondering
what The Meaning of Life was all about. 

Viktor Frankel’s story
is a classic.  One that as soon as I can
get my Mr 13 to take a leaf out of Cal Newport’s book and embrace Digital Minimalism, I will be ensuring
he reads.

How do we teach our
teenage children gratitude?  To
appreciate what they have & understand the value of the simple things in
life?  This is a daily work in progress
in our household – integrating gratitude, empathy & mindfulness into our
world in pursuit of a happiness & fulfillment.  It truly is a Resilience Project.  As
parents, we should all be grateful for the work Hugh Van Cuylenburg has
packaged for us.  A highly recommended

Losing our beloved Nan
or “GG” in May was a Reality Slap
for our entire family.  Russ Harris
addresses how to manage life’s hardships & for us, it was through a
celebration of her 101 years & keeping Nan ever present in the world of our
family.  Nan knew how to connect with
& read me as a person, her wisdom often hitting me between the eyes.  She was rarely wrong.

Ironically Nan’s death
came hours before a significant birth in our family.   Mother’s
was launched hours after her passing.  By my brave sister Tina Bruce, this memoir
shares her story of birth trauma & subsequent addiction to opioids.  Her courage, an inspiration to me.  Through sharing her story, Tina has instilled
hope & inspired confidence in others suffering the same pains.  To help them understand there is a way
through the trauma & a wonderful life ahead should they choose to do the
work.  She has discovered the Power of Her True North.

Dying to be Me by Anita Moorjani is another memoir I
recommend to coaching clients frequently. The story of a woman wanting to
stretch her wings in a world where the preference by others, was to keep them
clipped.  Her cancer journey had a happy
ending as she entered physiological remission & pursued her life’s dreams
on her terms. 

Reading such personal
& at times harrowing stories, always brings me back to earth. I wonder how
individuals such as those within Bad
can justify their behaviours. 
The corporate greed demonstrated during the life of this Silicon Valley
start-up was mind boggling.  I thank
journalist John Carreyou for sharing this story.  If only we could have faith all employers
& colleagues were well intended.

The Nine Lies About Work equally challenged
my thinking regarding leadership behaviours & corporate governance.  It astounds me, the power of a company
culture & how it can influence your thinking.  You need to step out of that bubble &
realise how many other perspectives are on offer, how much bigger the world is
& how better balanced you are for experiencing more than a single culture

Whether it be a change
in profession within your organisation, a leap from corporate to start-up, or a
backflip in industries, any professional change requires courage.  Fortunate to hear the queen of courage &
vulnerability Brené Brown speak earlier this year, I was reminded of the
importance of living life in accordance with personal values.  I ignored this for some time & paid the
price with my physical & mental health. 

Resonating with many a hard-working, personally conflicted parent, the decision I made to share my journey back to a healthy & happy life was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.

Putting the words out
into the ether tied a bow around this chapter of my life.  I owned & continue to own my Gifts of Imperfection, now realising
what powerful life coaches they are – should we choose to listen.

Holding ourselves accountable for our decisions in life releases us of burden.

We need to be willing
to learn from our mistakes & take full responsibility for our actions to
put ourselves in the driver’s seat of a purposeful life driven with intent as
opposed to constantly reacting, casting blame & looking in the rear-view

Own your story, embrace your imperfections & find meaning within your deepest values.  That’s your Formula One engine.

In September, I learnt
the benefit of patience.  Something I now
know, is a powerful strength of mine. 
Particularly, when it comes to nurturing relationships.  An opportunity emerged within the Victorian
Racing Club that enabled me to fulfil a dream of being a member of their team
leading into the 2019 Spring Carnival & Australia’s most iconic horse race,
the Melbourne Cup.  Whilst we faced many
uncontrollable head winds leading into the Carnival, this only validated for me
I was in the right place.  No day was Any Ordinary Day.

I thrive in situations
where the stakes are high & relished the experience to be back in the
high-performance environment that was professional sport & live television.  Atul Gawande’s The Checklist was a mandatory framework to get through the days,
along with Emotional Agility to weather
the unpredictable curve balls.  Thank
you, Susan David.  There are very few
people in this world who wouldn’t benefit from improving the management of
their emotions.  A much more sustainable
strategy than pushing them aside and avoiding them all together.

And that brings me to
a time when I am yet again back on the road heading towards our annual
pilgrimage to Noosa.

I intend on using this
time for getting back in the surf, reconnecting with nature & being with
those in my inner most circle.  When
these stars align, by brain tends to creatively explode.

For 2020, I am
determined to do what I can to support others gain the confidence & courage
to sell themselves & realise their wildest professional ambitions. 

Shane Hatton’s, Lead the Room is by my side, along with
Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo, wonderful
guides to assist in my story telling. 

It is my dream to dance
with the fear public speaking can bring & hit the stage.  I love a good story & can only hope every
person who hears my words, leaves feeling inspired that anything is possible in
their professional lives. The confidence & courage they need, is within

None of us need fall
into The Happiness Trap.  We have one life, let’s make it The Ride of a Lifetime.  Just like Robert Iger has from Disney.

So on that note, I’ll
leave you with the question – What’s your Disney story for 2020? 

I’ve just hit publish
& sent my next chapter into the ether…now I had better hop to it!

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