Book Summaries with Jeremy

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Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehany 

Summary:

Phil’s basketball journey is addressed throughout the book. It starts with his playing days, covers his start as a coach, and of course the successes he had with the Bulls and the Lakers. The ending of the book is after the Lakers lost their playoff series against the Mavericks. Throughout he relives some game time moments, describing what happened in certain games and in a variety of playoff series. Phil has always been more well known for his philosophy of zen and bringing his players together to play well-rounded basketball. He discusses his various approaches to doing this, sitting quietly, doing yoga, meditation, and different ways he’d communicate with the team. At times he mentioned various zen, or Buddhist teachers and intertwines those lessons with what the team or he as an individual were going through. He gives an inside look at the behind the scenes issues and concerns that would arise and his thoughts along the way.

Influence on me:

The simplicity of the attitude in the book struck me. There are times when there was great success or failure and Phil had a very matter of fact attitude. Instead of dwelling or letting it get carried away each event was treated as just an event. Even with this approach, there was not a lack of emotion. He would say when he was angry or sad and cried. These are just events and they do take place. If we want to let them constantly be a part of us and weigh us down then we will. Also as individuals we all constantly learn and grow, and sometimes we want to learn and grow how to be strong in difficult situations, or how to not let anger or rage overcome us in situations, but unfortunately, the only way to test and see if we have grown is to go through such trying times. To me, it seems that even when things seem taxing and difficult, it really just enables us to have an opportunity to see how we are in that moment, and to learn from it. The other main concept was being in the moment. This idea of chopping wood and carrying water. Those are simple tasks and other emotional things may happen around it, but in the moment it’s not beneficial to be elsewhere, instead, we need to be in the moment and focus on the task at hand.

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The Starfish and the Spider: the unstoppable power of leaderless organizations by, Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom

Summary:

Organizations can be categorized into either a starfish or spider organization. This metaphor relates to the characteristics of the animal. A spider has a central head and body with legs extending out. This is an organization with centralized leadership that dictates what every single leg does, or what every aspect of the organization does. If something were to happen to the head/body then the legs would fail to function. This could occur within organizations that would not function when their leadership is dismantled. A starfish is the opposite, if one leg is chopped off it will re-grow and flourish. The book highlights companies such as craigslist, Wikipedia, eBay, and organizations such as AA, music sharing services and others that operate as a starfish. They allow the people to have the power and when they do so the organization is able to accomplish much more. It also makes it extremely difficult to dismantle it since one leader cannot result in the downfall as other areas will survive and often rally to keep moving forward. This is still a continuum of sorts as some companies such as eBay have a centralized function of leadership but give great power for people to sell to people and rate each other all monitored by the people. This enables greater responsibility, sharing, and less oversight of management.

How it influenced me:

This was an interesting perspective of how an organization should function. As someone looking to grow and improve as a leader, it is unique to hear about putting power out to others. This is applicable in the concept of being a lovecat and sharing koozies. I had developed some koozies to give to lovecats and it became a time where I thought about making it something of an organization to reach out and help others. But I realized while reading this book I can allow them to connect better. It also stands out as another possible avenue of how to run a business in a different way than the status quo. As I progress as a leader moving up the ladder there will be opportunities for growth and providing direction for my section or perhaps the company overall. This is a reminder that just because we have done something a certain way, it doesn’t mean that we will have to continue that. It is important to be aware of changes that occur both through society and especially in regards to the use of technology. I need to make sure I shift my lens of focus to look for a change in trends.

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Brain Rules by John Medina 

Summary:

There are 12 brain rules to help people in their daily functions. The book is presented 1 rule at a time, with corresponding research, anecdotal evidence and possible suggestions of how to implement the new information. 1) Survival, the brain evolved just as we did as a species. It is quite large and continues to grow. 2) Exercise, getting cardio helps our capillaries in our brain to open up, allowing more blood flow. The basic recommendations help brain function of nearly every type. 3) Sleep is very important for key mental functioning. There is a system working to keep us awake and another to get us to sleep. They are constantly in flux, and some people tend to be night owls and others morning. 4) Stress was critical as we evolved but today it lingers longer, leaving cortisol to have negative effects on us. Gaining control of our lives is the best thing to do. 5) Wiring our brains literally rewrite itself. People’s brains grow, develop, and store information differently. 6) Attention can only be one thing. We shift attention but don’t multitask. 7) Memory is strengthened by encoding more information at the time of learning. When we recall information it is a mix of new knowledge and past memories. The best way to have a good memory is to repeat it in timed intervals. 8) Sensory information is how we acquire information and transfers it into electrical signals to the brain. Working the senses together is much more effective. 9) Vision is by far the most important sense using half the brains resources. 10) Music is still being researched a lot but formal training improves intellectual skills in cognitive domains. They are generally able to detect emotion in speech. 11) Gender is dependent on the male. Females are genetically more complex due to 1,500 genes per X chromosome they have. Women use left hemisphere of the amygdala and remember emotional details of stress, men use the right side and recall the gist. 12) Babies show that we learn from experimenting to see how things are with all of our senses. We can learn things throughout our lives.

Influence on me:

It was very informative and there are certain skills that can be applied immediately. Things like using a hook to get interested during a presentation. Looking to utilize emotion to help the material stick better by those in the audience. The book is full of a great amount of information. The potential issue is that it is difficult to retain all that is presented with it. I feel that each chapter needs more time and focus to be fully applied to life in order to maximize the information presented. It would be a good book to refer back to occasionally or perhaps pick one rule to understand and implement during a period of time. It can be a good source of reference for individuals that show a great interest in knowing more about how the brain works. As I learn and present information going forward, I can refer back to the book to add to my understanding.

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The Power of 100! by Shaun King

Summary:

The Power of 100 is based around setting 100 goals, with some of them being outrageous. The term used is Your Outrageously Ridiculous Goals. The point of this is to truly push yourself beyond normal conviction. The people through history who have done amazing things had some vision for moving forward and without it, they would not have had the same impact. With the goals, King encourages making some within each of the following seven areas: generosity, health and fitness, career and finance, spiritual and emotional, travel, friends and family, and accomplishment and experience goals. There is a good amount of overlap between the seven and it is likely that working towards one will help to move you closer to another. Additionally, this can help to make sure there aren’t large gaps and omissions from one’s life. Beyond the premise of setting goals, King provides personal and anecdotal stories of people overcoming adversity and reminders in being motivated towards goals. This may include going public with the goals and telling everyone you can. A benefit is that a connection of a friend may be able to help you and you would not have that resource without doing so. This will also help with accountability.

How it influenced me:

Goal setting is nothing new to me. One day I taught over 800 people about goal setting and another day it was over 600 all in person. Even with my experience teaching others and setting my own goals, I wanted to read this book to see what it could offer. Before reading it, I had some ideas brewing in my head and had made some goals for the year but was lacking more long term goals. I think reading the words of someone else helped me to stand back a moment and reflect on what I was working on and what I should make sure to pursue with more intention. I have picked a goal and made it semi-public to certain people, knowing that my brother will make sure I keep working on it. An added benefit is getting to work with him on this process. This book was a nice break from the research-intensive books I have been working through and helped to encourage some existing thoughts I’ve had and added a few new perspectives as well that I will take with me.

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The Adventures of an IT Leader by Robert Austin; Richard Nolan; and Shannon O’Donnell

Summary:

This is a fiction book about Jim Barton who transitions from the head of loan operations to Chief Information Officer (CIO) even though he lacks any IT knowledge. He struggles to understand his new position and how IT differs than typical programs. The revenue comes from in-house billing and really it is their job to make things as secure as possible within the provided funding. This is difficult because it means acknowledging risks are always possible, but working to mitigate the largest is key. There is only so much funding to be had and they need to make sure the right ratio is spent on existing infrastructure and systems and the rest on new technologies. This is difficult as there is no right answer necessarily. He must also work to understand how his managers don’t fully have a thorough understanding of what their employees do because the technology advances so quickly. In board meetings he needs to convey information in such a manner others can understand it. There was an attack and Jim had to work with his team to provide the best possible plan of action for the CEO to determine what to do. His ability to manage and lead within the year lead to two great opportunities at the end.

Influence on me:

First, it provided information on what a CIO is and does. Then the relationships between the executive leadership and next level managers could be seen. There was mention of the doctrine of completed staff work. This is beneficial to me because I need to keep in mind that as I progress in my career it is my job to present issues and best possible solutions to my superiors. This enables them to make the decision and move on. Additionally, throughout the book, Jim is humble and seeks growth throughout. He is more than aware his lack of knowledge can make things harder than they need to be and he does a great job trying to learn as much as possible. He also speaks with a variety of people to get their take on various scenarios. This helps him make effective decisions and tap into the expertise that other people have to offer. Having a solid network such as this is critical to be as successful as possible.

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Book Summaries with Jeremy

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Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior by Phil Jackson

Summary:

The book focuses on Phil Jackson’s life with basketball and spiritual information from his time as a child until the 4th NBA championship with the Chicago Bulls. He grew up with religious parents. His mother made him memorize scripture and keep his head full because an idle mind was not good. Phil would do it but it wasn’t fulfilling to him. It was on the basketball court that he was free. As a player, he did well and played professionally for the Knicks. As he developed as a person he would read many types of books and mentioned quotes or lessons from various books. Spiritually he became adamant on zen and the idea of meditation. Being in the moment was special. Whether it was coaching or having his team play basketball being in the moment was critical. He took up coaching in an NBA developmental league and his focus was on creating a team that would play together. It was not easy as players would try to stand out, hoping to land a big time NBA contract. One thing he did was have equal pay amongst the players. This worked until a player did well and the owners felt obligated to pay him more. He had some success winning a championship. He also had some experience coaching in a summer league in Puerto Rico. The environment there helped him develop an ability to stay calm and deal with intense surroundings. He was able to get an assistant coaching job with the Bulls just as he was considering walking away from the game. As an assistant, he was able to meet Tex Winter the architect of the triangle offense he would later implement. It was a great chance to see how the players reacted to the more disciplined head coach and learn more about the technical side of the game. The Triangle offense involves all 5 players reading the defense and making the correct decision and movement at the same time. This allows it to be successful against a variety of defenses but only if the team worked together as one unit. Phil noticed the Bulls had trouble on offense watching Jordan do his amazing plays but that meant others became stationary and bored. Once he became Head Coach, Phil spoke with Jordan and got him on board with team play for success. Phil had a more unique way of getting playing time to each player. He would have to 5 player shifts and would substitute them at appropriate times. With the other players, he would integrate them at various times so they would know they were part of the team still and had an important role. The most enjoyable part about coaching is being a part of the game. The competition itself or “the dance” is a special moment. When he is fully engaged in the moment of the game it feels great. Throughout the book he places quotes or anecdotes from books or stories he has come across that has helped shaped the method of his coaching. Similar to this was splicing in movie clips into game film to help drive home a point and create less tension for the film session.

Influence on me:

Impactful on multiple levels. Something big with my focus is being in the moment. This singular item is highlighted throughout this book. Additionally Phil’s desire to continuously learn and from a variety of sources. As you continue to learn and grow as an individual you can apply those things to other areas of your life. Common themes within coaching, knowing the material, being able to communicate it, having conviction, and reflection is all present. Emphasizing the concepts that are seen across many good coaches. Spending time working on these things away from the sport will make it natural to use during the action. Particular to me, watching Phil years ago coach the Lakers to multiple championships, he did not always call timeouts or substitute with other coaches would. At the time it seemed odd yet now reading the book from before those years, it illustrates the well thought out reasoning behind those actions. Find something you love, develop yourself and live in the moment is the key take home message to me.

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Using Negative Self-Talk to Your Advantage

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“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” –Dr. Wayne Dyer

There is no escaping negative self-talk. We can be the most positive person and view the world through the eyes of a six year old child with not a worry. Still will this mindset negative thoughts will eventually creep into our heads. Don’t worry we are human and life is not over. We can use negative self-talk to our advantage. How? We must turn negative self-talk into positive self-talk. The more negative the more fuel you will have.

I know this sounds crazy but trust me. I have used this theory with many athletes that are affected by negative thoughts and negative self-talk. First we need a piece of paper and pen. Got it? Good. Draw a line down the middle of the page. Not the straightest line? That’s okay!

On the left side of the page I want you to write down any negative thought or negative self-talk that is infecting your mind. Once you have “verbally thrown up” on the page with every nasty thought or negative self-talk that has been casting a dark cloud over you, you need to examine each thought one by one.

Why did this negative thought or self-talk come to mind? Think about it. Dig deep and get real with yourself. Face you the truth and what has been holding you back for moving forward and achieving success.

What can you learn from this negative thought or self-talk? There is a lesson to everything that we do.

Now comes the most important part of the exercise. Turn every negative thought or self-talk to a positive thought or self-talk.

Great example from, “Zen Habits: Handbook for Life” by, Leo Babauta. The author talks about negative comments left on his blog how he dealt with negative criticism. He used a similar exercise where he turned the negative into a positive. Here is the example:

Criticism: “You write about the same things over and over and your posts are boring and stale.”

Positive response: “I need to increase the variety of my posts and find new ways of looking at old things.”

Turn every negative thought or self-talk into a positive thought or self-talk. Go through each line and answer the questions above. Why and what can you learn? I know our first instinct is to get offensive and try to defend ourselves. It’s okay, breathe. We are not attacking you; these are your thoughts. There is a reason for your thoughts. This is a time to learn from them.

Take every negative thought or self-talk and write a positive affirmation how you will better your thoughts or self-talk. Another example:

Negative thought: Why did I get my master degree in sport psychology? What a waste. I fell back into the same job I had in school.

Positive: I have been given the tools to be an active listener and effective communicator. I can bring something unique to my position and I get to practice daily the things I learned in school.

If you are not sure. The positive affirmation should be written on the right side of the line.

Okay, done? Good! Here comes the fun part of the exercise. Fold the paper in half with the negative shit on the left side and all that sexy positive stuff on the right side. Now rip that shit in half! Take all the nasty negative stuff and crunch it up into a ball and throw it away. This is a metaphor for getting all that negative energy out of the brain and throwing it away. You are now left with only positivity!

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Keep this sheet in a place that you will see daily. That could be on the fridge, mirror in the bathroom, book marker, etc. I just need you to see it daily to remind you of the positive moves you are making and going to make in your life.

Like I said above, negative thoughts and self-talk will enter our mind but how we react to these thoughts and self-talk will determine how we move forward in life. Negativity is normal because we are our own critics. We want the best for ourselves but sometimes we just don’t know how to achieve our best. Use this exercise anytime you have a negative thought or negative self-talk. It is important that you get it out of your mind, on paper, and turned into a positive experience.

I am excited to know how this exercise has helped in your life! Comment below or send me an email at sean.rawrnonprofit@gmail.com to share. Remember standing up to our negative thoughts or self-talk can make us stronger and more aware of who we are because we have to step back and really look at what these negative vibes truly mean. Only positivity can come out of learning who we are and where we are headed in life.

-Sean C.