Tools and help for you

Goals, Planning and Execution

Emotional Intelligence and Interpersonal Skills

I have found the following books helpful recently and wanted to share them with you. I own and use these so I can recommend them to you. If you purchase them from the links I will receive a commission without costing you anything extra, so thanks in advance for your purchases and support. I hope you get some real benefit from these resources. If you want to get Audible for audiobooks, you can try it out free for a month.

Goals, Planning and Execution

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Clear has written a useful blog for over 7 years and some of his best thinking is distilled into this book. He has a science-based approach that is not bogged down in too much dry research. I have found it has the right balance of fact and inspiration. The big idea behind atomic habits is they are tiny changes in your daily habits (like atoms) that can yield big results over time (like atomic energy).

The author goes into the main parts of a habit (there are four) and then systematically shows you how to use those either to start new (good) habits or to break bad ones. You get 300+ pages of solid information and practical advice that is worth more than the price of the book which you can get Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones here. (If you’re an audio learner, the audiobook is here).

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

Boss, founder, CEO, owner – all of these are executives, and Drucker’s The Effective Executive (2002) will speak straight to you. This is a book about managing yourself more than managing other people. He includes helpful perspectives and practices on time management, knowing what you as a leader uniquely contribute to the business, focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses and making effective decisions.

The classics have so many gems of wisdom and the best are still relevant. Drucker wrote this in the 1960’s after working with top executives in the US Eisenhower administration and he continued to revise it over the years. You as the leader are a key part of your organization’s success, so increasing your self awareness and effectiveness should be top priority. This is the book to help you do just that.

Good for reading in 7 chunks (chapters if you’re old-school). Get The Effective Executive here. (If you’re an audio learner, the audiobook is here).

Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt

15 years ago or so I was introduced to another program for annual planning that I used for a number of years and it eventually influenced my own model of reflecting on and evaluating the year past as well as looking ahead to the year to come. Michael Hyatt explains a process that aligns closely with mine in this book that features 5 steps in 15 chapters, and it’s loaded with practical advice and action planning pointers that will help you truly make the next one your best year ever.

Even if you only implement 1/3 of the ideas in this book (and I hope you can implement them all!), you’ll be so far ahead of where you were last year or the last five years that it will astound you. You can get a lot out of putting these ideas into practice. Get the book Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals here (or the audiobook if you like to listen).

Measure What Matters by John Doerr

Doerr is a Silicon Valley venture capital investor who has helped firms like Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and others to develop a goal-setting and goal-achieving culture by using OKR’s (objectives and key results), a system he learned from Andy Grove of Intel and based on concepts originated by Peter Drucker.

This book lays out the history, ideas and practices that make OKR’s such a powerful management tool. It works for tech companies but also for corporations like Disney, BMW, Exxon, for small startups, for teams within companies or divisions and I would maintain even for individuals (I’ve used a system like this for almost two decades). The discipline of this system will help you truly measure what matters and manage the activity that will make it happen. You can get the book here or the audiobook.

Emotional Intelligence and Interpersonal Skills

The Emotions Wheel

Using an emotions wheel is one of the best ways to improve your emotional intelligence. We tend to use fewer words than we actually know to describe our own feelings and the emotions of others that we observe.

An emotions wheel (or feelings wheel–they are the same thing) helps to order our emotions and also expand our vocabulary for what we’re actually feeling. Studies show that usin:g more specific vocabulary actually helps you better regulate your emotions.

To learn more, I suggest you watch this Youtube video.

To get your own copy of a feelings wheel:

Full feelings wheel 128 emotions high quality printable download

Basic 8 emotions high quality printable download

Learning 24 emotions high quality printable download

Working with 32 emotions high quality printable download

Naming 48 emotions high quality printable download

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This book was written in 1936 by Dale Carnegie, so that dates it. It is a classic, and for me I appreciate its timeless wisdom and advice, which predates television, spaceflight, the internet, emotional intelligence, social media and artificial intelligence.

What was happening in the 1930’s? The US was in a lingering Depression and violent criminals (public enemies) stole the headlines, Hitler was laying plans to take over Europe, Japan and China were at war, the old European colonial order was in place in much of the world. So it’s striking that Dale Carnegie pioneered a new type of literature, the “self-help” book, and gave advice on how to get along with people and thrive.

You may not relate to the “famous” people or examples in the book, but you can still get a lot of value from it. Before Dan Goleman popularized emotional intelligence in 1995, Dale Carnegie wrote, “Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you are in business.” Later in the same paragraph, “even in technical lines as engineering, about 15% of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85% is due to skill in human engineering–to personality and the ability to lead people.”

Carnegie started with the equivalent of a TED talk in 1912, then expanded it to a 1 1/2 hour lecture and course, wrote and re-wrote his notes until he came out with the book in 1935 and it has been edited and revised ever since. He is practical and gives pointed advice; it is not theoretical or academic. It is especially relevant for developing interpersonal skills. You may skip over some stories or want to ignore the dated aspects of the writing, but like any advice you should read with discernment. The book reflects an earlier time when society was different. Don’t expect it to reflect the norms of today. If you can read and re-read and apply the lessons that way, you can get a lot of value from this book. Get a copy here or listen to the audiobook.

Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Dan Goleman is an author and former science journalist who wrote on meditation and then popularized the field of emotional intelligence with his first bestselling book in 1995 (Emotional Intelligence) which focused on the larger social and educational aspects with one chapter focused on business. He followed up with the business angle in 1998 Working with Emotional Intelligence.

His focus is on emotional intelligence in contrast to cognitive intelligence or IQ, and his main thesis is that emotional intelligence (EQ) counts for a larger part of “success” than IQ. Goleman’s contribution lies in identifying the five domains of emotional intelligence: Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy and Social Skills as well as twenty-five competencies that fall in these domains. He gives many examples of emotional intelligence and how it makes a difference at work. Get a copy of the book here (or the audiobook).

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Graves

If you are looking for an entry level book into emotional intelligence with some practical tips, this may be the book for you. The authors introduce the idea of becoming aware of emotions and then managing them as well as tuning into other people. The examples are more up to date than Goleman’s, but if you are expecting from the title that this builds on the earlier books on emotional intelligence and takes them a level deeper, that is not what this book is. This book is popular and has introduced emotional intelligence to a new generation, but if you have read other things in the field you probably won’t get a lot of new insights here.

Descartes’ Error by Antonio Damasio

The link between emotions and reason, the mind and the body, and how the brain processes both emotion and reason in a dynamic balance is the area that Antonio Damasio first described in 1994. The book still holds insights today and does a very adequate job explaining the topography of the human brain and the emotional centers as well as the unfortunate dualism (mind/body, reason/emotion) that continues with us to this day. People who think they are especially logical and don’t let emotion affect their decisions will be challenged by what Damasio reveals. Emotion plays a large role in effective daily functioning, and some of the case studies in the book prove how lives fall apart when we aren’t grounded by appropriate emotion.

This book is not overly deep or especially technical, which is one of its strengths. It will help if you put a bookmark in chapter two which includes an aside on the anatomy of the nervous system. If you are looking to understand and explore more on the contrasts, links and balance between thinking, reason and emotion, this is a very helpful resource to read. Get a copy of the book here.

The EQ Difference by Adele Lynn

The EQ Difference: A Powerful Plan for Putting Emotional Intelligence to Work came out in 2004, six years after Goleman’s business work. It hasn’t gotten as much attention as his, which is unfortunate, because the author demonstrates the practical ways that leaders and business teams can benefit from learning and applying the principles of emotional intelligence to work. Part I of the book gives the necessary background and understanding of emotions, feelings and behavior in the workplace and how they impact performance.

Central to Lynn’s work (Part II of the book) is a tool for increasing self-awareness in the concept of a Self-Coach and a seven step process for developing self-awareness. This is very useful and a major contribution of this book. Part III looks at the five areas of emotional intelligence at work. Instead of copying Goleman’s fivefold model, Lynn focuses on Self-Awareness and Self-Control, Empathy, Social Expertness, Personal Influence, and Mastery of Purpose and Vision. You can get the book here.