My Top Three Reads of 2020

My Top Three Reads of 2020

My Top Three Reads of 2020

30

DECEMBER 2020

Samuel Osho

Do you remember shopping for Christmas as a kid? Everything in the store is screaming at you, “Pick me! Please, pick me!” If you’ve ever been to those crowded stores, you will agree that choosing a dress is not an easy task at all. Well, the decision paralysis ends when one of your parents intervenes, “Esther, pick this dress. It looks good on you.”

I was like a restless kid shopping for Christmas wear as I hunted for the top three reads of 2020. As I reflected on my journey in 2020, the voices of some authors stayed with me. The works of these authors moved me and their words found a space in my heart. It was either their stories that influenced my thoughts or their counsel that made my light shine brighter.

Brene Brown showed me how to lead from the heart as a leader. Clark’s Writing Tools helped me to become a better writer while Austin Kleon revealed ten ways to share my creativity with the world. These books made it into my top three because they made me become a better version of myself.

My Top Three Reads of 2020

1. Dare to Lead by Brene Brown, Ph.D.

Brene Brown is a research professor with over two decades studying courage, shame, vulnerability, and empathy. Her TED talk — “The Power of Vulnerability” — is one of the top five most-viewed TED talks in the world, with more than fifty million views.

Dr. Brown’s book, “Dare to Lead” is a treasury of abstract ideas in concrete form, capable of making daring leaders. I learnt how to embrace tough conversations within and outside the workplace. I loved how she defined courage, empathy, shame, resilience, trust, vulnerability, and transformational leadership. While defining courage, Dr. Brown wrote:

“The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.”

This definition resonated deeply with me — an offshoot of Theodore Roosevelt’s iconic quote popularly tagged “Man in the Arena.” It’s been a long time since a book tugged to my soul and gripped my heart. I could see myself on the pages of the book and ultimately, the path from my struggles into the light. Stories and insights from her research work with outstanding organizations provided varied perspectives on the subject of courage, fear, and vulnerability.

I picked up new tools: giving permission slips, delegating duties with clarity because to be “unclear is unkind,” asking my co-workers what help or support on a project means to them, and admitting the stories I make up in my head about people and situations. I also did a personal reflection and selected my top two values — faith and excellence — that serve as drivers for everything I do.

This is a book that every daring leader passionate about transformation should read. It will help you lead with grounded confidence.

2. Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark

Roy Peter Clark is a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, one of the most prestigious schools for journalists in the world. He has taught writing at every level — to high school students and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors — for more than thirty years.

I have always believed that writing is a craft which means that it can be learnt. Clark’s book offers tools, not rules. This paradigm shift made the book highly engaging and easy to use for all classes of writers. The book addressed writing in different genres — fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays, and technical reports. Clark shared more than 200 examples from diverse writers to reinforce the explanation of how the tools are used.

From the book, I learnt new techniques for making my writing pop and also got name tags for my favourite writing styles. I became more confident critiquing my work and offer advice to young writers. The tools taught me the art of X-Ray reading which is needed to understand the structure used by some of my favourite authors.

In Writing Tools, Clark shares decades of experience through fifty-five tools that writers can use daily. He advised against using all the tools at a time. Start with one and move to the other. In no time, you will have a full workbench and your writing will become more polished and effective.

Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

3. Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon is the author of the bestselling book, “Steal Like an Artist.” Kleon in “Show Your Work,” unleashed ten revolutionary ideas that every artist can use to share their creativity with the world. It’s a concise book that you can finish easily in two days, but the ideas are so powerful that I kept coming back for more inspiration. Artist is a broad word used for writers, singers, actors, poets, graphic illustrators, sculptors and other creators of art.

Artists struggle to share their works because of the expectations from fans and admirers; everything must be perfect. But Kleon advises artists not to wait until they are experts before they start sharing. It’s encouraging to know that amateur artists can share their imperfect works with the world, so they can find their voice in the process. Kleon drops the bomb:

“You can’t find your voice if you don’t use it.”

I totally agree with this quote. As a budding writer, you need to be fearless when sharing your flawed works with readers regardless of their expectations. That constant sharing spurs you to stay productive and receive feedback on your work.

Kleon advised artists to share their works but to refrain from oversharing. Kleon wrote:

“The act of sharing is one of generosity — you’re putting something out there because you think it might be helpful or entertaining to someone on the other side of the screen.”

The rule of thumb is to ask if what you are about to share is useful or interesting. If you have your doubts, just toss it into the trash can or hit “save as draft.” If you are scared of sharing your works with the world, this is the book you need for that push towards action.

Show Your Work

Conclusion

For a list of my favourite books, you can find them here

 

It’s your turn, please share with me in the comments section – what are the best books you read in 2020?

Do you have an idea that you would like to share with me?

5 Productivity Tips for Maximizing the COVID-19 Lockdown

5 Productivity Tips for Maximizing the COVID-19 Lockdown

5 Productivity Tips for Maximizing the COVID-19 Lockdown

05

APRIL, 2020

Samuel Osho

It’s Spring, but our roads are eerily quiet. Deserted streets flanked by closed shops. As we attempt to flatten a curve cresting beyond our control, we are told to self-isolate and stay at home. Social animals detest isolation, it’s like cutting water supplies to a city amid a desert.

A house bursting at its seams with panic is the last place to find logical thinking. Panic and fear are siblings, but different in their operations — the crippling effect of the former makes it a deadlier assassin. It shuts everything down. Yes, it’s like turning off the power grid that feeds the White House. It’s scary, I know. But that’s how many people feel right now.
 
But how can we turn this crisis on its head? How can we make the best use of this time?

 

5 Productivity Tips

1. Revive your relationships

Life moves so fast. You work diligently to pay the bills at the price of missing out on the warmth of relationships. This is the time to revive your vertical and horizontal relationships. Connect with friends and family.

Parents have ample opportunity to revamp weakened connections with their children.

As a couple, it’s a chance to find the romantic spark again. Your inner circle is your support system, invest more time to strengthen your bonds.

2. Redeem Lost Time

Time is a nonrenewable resource. Time cannot be created, but it can be redeemed.
This is catch-up time to complete a list of unfinished business around the house. Those abandoned house projects deserve closure. Plunge into these projects and use this extra time productively.
 
If you have a side business, take advantage of the compulsory holiday to finish outstanding tasks. Use this period to prepare for the overflowing demand that might occur after the quarantine.
Smart people replenish their knowledge bank regularly. When you are up against a busy schedule, it’s hard to keep up with books and professional courses. It’s time to finish those books and complete the online courses. Find ways of adding value to yourself with the extra time in your hands — check out study guides for professional certifications that can advance your career pursuits.

 

“Nothing can disturb your peace of mind unless you allow it to.” – Roy T. Bennett.

3. Reassure your employer

There is no better time to show your employer that you are made of gold. As you work remotely, go above and beyond. Show grit and diligence in your daily duties.

Amplify your productivity, let your employer know that working from home is not an excuse to slack. During the lock-down, gain the confidence of your boss in a way that remote work becomes a viable option for you after the pandemic.

Document your productivity metrics during the quarantine. This will come in handy when you start a conversation about working from home on one or two weekdays after the lock-down.

4. Reflect on your life

Block out time on your calendar for meetings with yourself. You need time alone. A quiet moment of meditation. Before the busy life kicks again, reflect on your life. Review your core values, beliefs, principles – do they still drive your critical decisions? Take stock of your life and highlight areas for improvement. Find your true north and stay on track with your life goals.

5. Relax your nerves

For many, this is a down-time. What do you do during downtimes? You refuel, you recharge and breathe.

Your mental health is vital at this time, more than anything. Watch after yourself, remember to eat healthily and get loads of rest. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you can binge on movies and treat yourself to bouts of refreshing sleep.

Conclusion

In a crisis, many things are out of your control, but you must remember that the way to survive is to focus on the things you can control – your attitude, your thoughts and your life.
If you have some other tips that you think will be of great help to anyone during the lockdown, kindly drop them in the comment section below. Gracias!

Beta Life Series – What’s Your Definition of Success?

Beta Life Series – What’s Your Definition of Success?

Beta Life Series

What’s Your Definition of Success?

Samuel Osho

“We fail the minute we let someone else define success for us.” – Brene Brown

It’s a bad omen when all your drives are externally motivated. You squeeze yourself into boxes made for you by others. You wear over-sized garments so you can fit into a particular clique. The summary of your life is living to prove a point to others – parents, friends, rude bosses and petty neighbours. That’s no life at all. It’s a disservice to your being. 

Without your definition of success, success will appear elusive. In split seconds, the accomplishments of others will pull you in a million directions. That’s how distractions morph into confusion. A confused person lacks clarity to achieve goals. In fact, you switch your goals and aspirations every other day. Today, you are heading to Honolulu because Heidi is hitting it big there. Tomorrow, you are running to Rabat because Rasaq secured a job with a Moroccan firm. You have to be frank: what’s your definition of success?

Your definition of success must come from within. It must reflect who you are, what you want, what gives you peace, and what brings you joy. Your interpretation of success is derived from a merger of your beliefs, principles, and values. No one can define it for you. It’s your responsibility — an escape ticket from the chaotic cycle of exhaustion and resentment. No need for it to be glamorous or aesthetic. It’s for you, and it’s your true north. Your life revolves around it. What an excellent opportunity to celebrate your uniqueness and authenticity.

 

To remain unperturbed in a noisy world, your inner energy must outweigh external forces. That’s how to insulate yourself from drifting. Let everyone rant all they want, staying on track with your success goals is all that matters the most to you.

Congrats! You just read the shortest brief on how to live a life of legacy. 

Beta Life Series – Taking Risks

Beta Life Series – Taking Risks

Beta Life Series

Taking Risks

Samuel Osho

When was the last time you took a step, and you felt like the hinges holding your world were about to snap?

Former heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali, insisted, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

What could be more exciting than taking a risk?

 

What’s more fulfilling than a leap of faith that was handsomely rewarded?

I imagine it’s like cranking the ignition of the first automobile engine, and it roared to life.

It’s like sailing across the Atlantic for the first time from Europe and finding a new land called America.

It’s like pressing the shutter of the first Polaroid camera, and an image was captured. 

What’s more exhilarating than rocking in a new orbit after a quantum leap that took your breath away?

Risk takers are the ones who deserve a place on the extraordinary lane.

Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, sums it up well when he said, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that [is] changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

You won that contract because someone was willing to take a risk on your competence.

 

When was the last time you took a risk? Your capacity will always remain the same if you refuse to increase your appetite for risk. Your dreams may not morph to reality until you are willing to take bold risks.

Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a system and culture that vehemently hates taking risks. So, a normal life often mimics the trails of an animal in a circus show.

But it’s not the fault of the system; you have a responsibility to break out of the normalcy. Not many people dare to do this, so the few that break out are often the rebels scaling into new heights of excellence.

 

Well, the most important thing is to get into the act – make a move and take a risk.

And for young people, there is no better time to take risks than now. Now is the time to take risks, make mistakes and learn.

You may win some and lose some, but one thing is for sure, you will never be the same again.

Emotional Intelligence 101 – Who Are You?

Emotional Intelligence 101 – Who Are You?

Beta Life Series

Emotional Intelligence 101 – Who Are You?

Samuel Osho

After being brutally beaten and robbed, a man was left unconscious on the roadside. A psychiatrist was passing by, he paused, looked at the man and exclaimed: “My God, whoever did this, really needs help!”

What’s the difference between a psychologist and a magician? A magician pulls rabbits out of hats whereas a psychologist pulls habits out of rats. 

Long before the field of psychology received significant attention, there was little or no importance placed on the value of emotional intelligence. But recent studies have convincingly proven that to succeed in today’s world, high intelligence quotient (IQ) is not enough. For guaranteed success in leadership positions, you need an excellent blend of IQ and emotional intelligence. 

You must have heard people say that managing people is a tough job. That’s why leadership and management will be a hard nut to crack for anyone that fails to intentionally understand people and why they act the way they do. But how can you understand others if you are not fully aware of who you are? 

It’s easy to manage robots – no mood swings, no sick days, no anger feats, and all sorts. But when your job requires managing a team of four to six people, a headache pops up and then you are about to explode. 

It’s clear that it’s impossible to separate human beings and their emotions. Your typical day can best be described as a rollercoaster of diverse feelings and emotions – angry, happy, sad, ashamed, afraid, anxious and we have some emotions that are without names.  

It’s a huge challenge to effectively deal with emotions because our brains are wired to always give emotional reactions an upper hand. When you receive signals from your sensory organs – sight, smell, hearing and touch; the signals pass through the spinal cord at the base of your brain to its destination (the frontal lobe – the back of your forehead). But before the signal reaches the frontal lobe, it has to pass through the limbic system. The limbic system is the seat of emotions while the frontal lobe is the seat of rational thinking and logic. So, the signals get tampered with and evoke some emotions before they reach the center of logical thinking. That’s the popular emotional hijacking! 

 

In the book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, Emotional Intelligence was divided into four core areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. 

The first two – self-awareness and self-management drive your personal competence because they have to do with the understanding and management of your personal emotions. 

The last two – social awareness and relationship management controls your social competence because they involve comprehending the emotions of people around you and effectively manage your interactions with them. 

In conclusion, low emotional intelligence is not the end of the world. Not when you are determined to see it grow and improve. But the foundation of all the four core areas is self-awareness – it sets the pace for the development of other areas. The journey to increasing your emotional intelligence starts with YOU – it does not start by pointing fingers, it starts by going inside out.

For further reading on Emotional Intelligence, you can check the following books: Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.

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