Category Archives: Lean In

My Reading List – Spring & Summer 2015


I needed a break from business books, so most of what I read over the last six months was light reading. Below are the ones I read in Q2 and Q3, with my rating and a brief summary of what I learned, as well as how I think it might add value to your life.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with the majority of the content and found some fantastic nuggets all throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

Love Does by Bob Goff
I had the opportunity to hear Bob speak last month and he is as loving, funny, inspiring, and authentic as I expected him to be. After hearing him speak, I knew I needed to read his book again; it’s that good. I love this quote; “There is only one invitation it would kill me to refuse, yet I’m tempted to turn it down all the time. I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does.”

The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday
Ryan’s writing is masterful, and his beliefs about our ability to choose how we respond to trials and adversity are spot on. His words buoyed me more than a few times while I was training for a race and had moments of wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into. These words of his hit me like a ton of bricks, “We spend a lot of time thinking about how things are supposed to be, or what the rules say we should do. Trying to get it all perfect. We tell ourselves that we’ll get started once the conditions are right, or once we’re sure we can trust this or that. When, really, it’d be better to focus on making due with what we’ve got. On focusing on results instead of pretty methods.” Ouch! You can watch an interview of Ryan talking about the book and his philosophy with one of the founders of Quest Nutrition here.

4-Star Reads

Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas
“There is great freedom in how we can meet with and enjoy God. This is by His design and according to His good pleasure.” I’ve wrestled for years with not encountering God in seemingly normal ways. Gary’s Nine Pathways To God showed me that I was created to commune with God in a unique way, as are each of us. Truly very freeing.

Not Fade Away by Rebecca Alexander and Sascha Alper
This beautiful memoir was one that I simply could not put down. Rebecca’s story is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. We could all learn from her resilience and positive attitude.

Big Burn by Timothy Egan
Timothy weaves together two fascinating true stories to create a history lesson that feels like an old western tale. His awe-inspiring research brought facts to light that had been hidden for over 100 years, and caused me to be even more grateful for our national parks.

Chess Not Checkers by Mark Miller
Mark outlines a simple, straightforward methodology for being a strategic thinker in the workplace. He articulates how business really is a sport where winning results from good decision-making, “High performance is not a matter of circumstances, luck, or DNA. High performance is about choices.”

Values, Inc. by Dina Dwyer-Owens
It’s pretty evident that our culture is no longer going to put up with companies that aren’t living by values and ethics. In fact, Dina asserts that lasting success comes from having values that are shared by the entire company, meaning that every employee is not only aware of them but is measured against them in performance reviews.

3-Star Reads

Siren’s Fury by Mary Weber
This is the second is Mary’s trilogy. Candidly, these books are meant for teenagers, but since I enjoy a good fantasy book every now and then, I’ve enjoyed escaping to her made-up world with its fanciful characters and elaborate landscapes.

2-Star Reads

The Code by Shaun Tomson
A good book of principles to live by; it’s a must read for every teenage boy.

My Next Review Will Include

It was an enjoyable season of light reading, but I’m ready for some good meaty books this Fall. Below are some of the books that I am reading or re-reading over the next few months. I will post a blog in early January that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

People over Profit by Dale Partridge
Do Over by Jon Acuff
For The Love by Jen Hatmaker
Secrets of Dynamic Communication by Ken Davis
Time Traps by Todd Duncan

What was one of your 5-star books this Summer?
What is on your reading list this Fall?

(Here are the links to my summer 2014, fall 2014, and winter 2015 reading lists.)

Why I Failed To Meet The 31-Day 500-Word Challenge

Last month I joined with a group of over 1,500 people who sought to meet a challenge, issued by author and entrepreneur, Jeff Goins, to write at least 500 words each of the 31 days of January. The first 22 days were a success, and then the 23rd of January arrived, and I didn’t write again for the rest of the month.

I was upset with myself and actually cried about not completing the challenge, which is an unusual response for me. My pride was wounded as I thought about not wanting to be labeled as a quitter or as someone who didn’t finish something she started. I thought about the excuses that I could give for why I didn’t finish and then I thought about ignoring it altogether and not even drawing attention to the fact that I had failed to meet the challenge. But, over the last two weeks I have come face to face with the real reason why I failed and realized that if I don’t share it, that I will not just be failing myself but I will be failing you as well.

In the Old Testament of the Bible we are introduced to Samson, who rules as a judge over Israel for over twenty years. We are told, even before he is conceived, that Samson will be used by God, that his life is committed unto God. Judges 13:24-25 tell us that Samson is blessed by God and that the Spirit of the Lord is moving on his life. Throughout his early adulthood years, we are shown several instances where the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Samson. It becomes clear, at least to us as the reader, that Samson’s strength comes from the Lord, that it is a gift from God to him. It is not until Samson tells Delilah his secret about his hair never having been cut, and she deceives him and has his hair cut and hands him over to the Philistines, that he too learns that his strength was really from the Lord and was not his own.

In not completing the 31-day writing challenge, I was brought face to face with my own strength and its source, just as Samson was. I’m in no way claiming that I have been blessed by God in the way that Samson was, but I have realized that when I tried to write through my own strength, through my own power, that I failed miserably.

During the writing challenge I started by committing each writing session to God and really seeking His direction and guidance as to what to write about. Then, somewhere in the process I started to try and write through my own strength based on my own thoughts, ideas, and observations, and on January 23rd I fell flat on my face. It took about a week for me to even be able to recognize that this was the real reason for my failure. I moved from a place of depending on God for strength and for the words to write, to depending on my own strength and writing based on what I felt like I wanted to write, and that is how I failed. I allowed pride and arrogance to drive me and failed to acknowledge God as my source.

I imagine (and hope) that I’m not the only one who has ever been the cause of her failure; how have you done so in your life?

I Have Something Even Better In Mind For You

2013 was a year of changes and transition for me. The owners of the healthcare company I worked for decided it was time to change out the executive leadership team and let go of the Chairman of the Board, the CEO, and the CFO. And, since I worked directly for the CEO as his Chief of Staff, I was given the option of taking another position in the company or leaving altogether.

It was a difficult decision to make. There were loyalties to consider. There were bills to be paid. There were friendships that I knew would end; people I would never see again. There were projects still to be finished and work still to be done. There was a doctoral dissertation waiting to be worked on.

It took about a week to muster up the courage to make the decision, to do what I knew in my heart God was calling me to do, to move on.

I thought I had it all planned out, as to what would happen next, the timeline of when I would get my dissertation proposal finished and start working on actively seeking a new job, and keep everything moving forward.

The time came and multiple fantastic opportunities came my way, but with each one there just was something about them that wasn’t quite right, that despite my eagerness and my desperation, didn’t settle right in my spirit. In some situations the decision ended up being made for me and in other situations I’m the one who drew things to a close.

There were moments of panic. In one such moment a dear pastor friend of mine sent me a note that said, “Remember, you are on the potter’s wheel, and as you are turned on the wheel, the Master Potter is molding and shaping you into the image that He created you to be before the foundation of the world. There are people that your life is destined to help. A purpose your life has yet to fulfill. Though the direction you are to go right now may not be clear, trust that as one door closes that another better and more useful door will open. It is when we are boxed into a corner that we operate at the height of our creativity.”

His words really helped me to “turn a corner” in how I was viewing my situation. I was able to move into a place of greater peace, really believing that God could be trusted with my life, my whole life, every aspect of my life. I began to look at things through God’s eyes, with bigger vision and a deepened perspective.

Author Kristen Strong says that God looks at us in moments, like what I was going through last year and says, “You’re so important to me, I have something even better in mind for you.”

I am still on the potter’s wheel, but now I look upon that position through eyes of humble gratitude rather than eyes of fear.

I wonder…what has the potter’s wheel done to your heart?