How Good Do You Want to Be?: A Champion's Tips on How to Lead and Succeed at Work and in Life
by Nick Saban
I will readily admit that my favorite motivational books are written by coaches at the top of their profession. In order to achieve their goals they have to inspire assistants and athletes with their vision and direct their actions to achieve excellent results. In college football's Southeastern Conference, one of the toughest conferences to achieve consistent success, Nick Saban has won both conference and national championships as head coach of LSU and the University of Alabama and enjoyed success in the National Football League.
How Good Do You Want To Be was written before Nick Saban became the coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide but it is obvious from his speeches and results at the University of Alabama that he adheres to the principles in this book. A central theme of the book, and his coaching philosophy, is to focus on what you need to do to perform as a champion and not the results themselves. While this might seem obvious, too often people focus on external factors they can't control and make excuses for why they cannot be successful due to the economy, environment, their upbringing, or a hundred other reasons. As Saban notes regarding the LSU national championship team:
We never talked as a team or as a staff about championships. We simply focused on the process of becoming champions. p.12
Throughout the book he describes in great detail the importance of maintaining focus, discipline, and healthy communication. His focus on developing effective processes and working the system is critical to business or team success. His principles of leadership are evident in the successful careers of coaches who once served as his assistants. He, in turn, credits Bill Belichick, who wrote the forward to the book, for being a positive role model who helped shape his approach.
I appreciate his focus on success in one's personal life as a component of overall success. If you have great professional success but leave a trail of broken relationships in your wake you have not succeeded. He practices what he preaches and provides sound guidance in this book for integrating work and personal life.
The book is very well organized and it is easy to highlight the important lessons to learn and the takeaway points. Each chapter ends with a summary of the main points that is useful as a review list.
In contrast to a lot of motivational books that are heavy on platitudes and pep talks, Nick Saban's process oriented approach inspires by demonstrating that if we develop a good system, focus on our preparation and the factors we can affect, we will achieve good results. His advice for dealing with roadblocks, difficult people and situations, and deficiencies through good decision making, not wishful thinking, is a welcome change from the "grit your teeth and bear it" philosophy of many motivational books.
If you are inspired by the book, I would also recommend you watch the DVD Gamechanger (al) which also discusses the championship approach as practiced by the Alabama Crimson Tide's 2009 National Championship season. The access to planning, practices, and his home life reflect what you learn from the book.
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The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America
by Drew Pinsky
An insightful book on the influence of celebrity narcissism on the attitude and behavior of the broader culture. Dr. Drew clinically analyzes the professional Hollywood culture and the reality TV celebrities who exhibit behaviors that are praised by the media but indicative of psychological problems that need treatment. The outrageous acting-out that indicates a need for treatment is praised by the celebrity and mainstream media then emulated by those in society who are vulnerable to such behavior by a desire to mirror the actions of the stars they admire or their own psychological fragility.
Drs. Pinsky and Young spend a great part of the book explaining narcissistic behaviors that are healthy and detrimental, personality disorders, factors that might be involved in the development of narcissistic personality disorders, and treatment suggestions. They also highlight the dangers of narcissistic culture on teens and adolescents and advise parents on how to prevent narcissism in their children.
Written in 2009, before the Miley Cyrus meltdown, Dr. Drew was very prophetic about how her life might develop if she did not receive treatment for this condition. He also discusses his objective in creating his own show, Celebrity Rehab to show the human side of the celebrities being treated for addiction and the trauma that often started them down their chaotic and disastrous path. He wanted to provide the knowledge and need for treatment associated with these behaviors that was missing in shows that glorified dysfunctions such as Real World and The Anna Nicole Show. I watched Celebrity Rehab because such treatment interests me and was moved by the story of Dennis Rodman, whom I disliked for his behavior, and in the end was hoping for his recovery and appreciating his humanity. I realized I had been caught up in his persona and forgot the humanity of a person, struggling and hurting on the inside, who was the victim of his own creation.
Until reality TV passes from the landscape, Dr. Drew's book serves as a reminder that there is little real about this edited, produced, and scripted fantasy world and much that is unhealthy in the lives of those who parade across our screens. Until society quits praising and mirroring such dysfunction and seeks a healthy life that brings positive value to others we must try to help those we can escape its downward spiral to self-destruction and prevent others from being seduced by the siren song of uninhibited passion, alcohol and drug abuse, and destructive behaviors into a trap that feeds self-loathing and emptiness.
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