A while back, I started sharing a list on social media of the books I’d read over the past year. This gesture came in response to how often people asked about my reading habits.

To be honest, sharing this information initially made me uncomfortable for fear of my choices being ridiculed, scrutinized, or just plain laughed at.

But alas, my belief in the idea that “good teammates share” allowed me to move beyond that fear. I’ve come to accept that maybe something I read or something I learned could help someone else—the essence of why good teammates share.

I now look forward to happily sharing this chronological list of books I’ve read during the last calendar year.

A few caveats worth noting…

  1. I read for the purpose of learning, not entertainment. That means I choose books with the expectation of them helping me become a better version of myself, which generally translates into me only reading nonfiction. This year, however, two fiction books appear on my list (Offsides by Lori Z. Scott and The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom). I chose them in preparation for a project I have in the pipeline.
  1. I have a busy schedule. Like many of you, my days are filled with work and family commitments. At this stage in my life, I can’t read whenever I want without being selfish. My goal is to read a book per month, which I slightly exceeded this year because some of my selections were shorter books.
  1. I don’t continue to read books I don’t like. In the past, if I started a book and then discovered it wasn’t interesting, I continued to forge ahead until I finished it. I no longer subscribe to this practice (*Advice I got from Gretchen Rubin!). Now, I simply stop reading the book if I don’t find it to be of value. This note is significant because I finished every book listed below and found value in every one of them.
  1. Finally, what follows is not a book review, but rather a “sharing” of a key takeaway from each book that I found relevant to my work/life.

Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story
by Bono

Compromise is a costly word, uncompromised even more so. There are times in everyone’s life when their will and commitment are tested. In these challenging moments, Bono continually returns to his higher calling, which keeps him on track.

Never Split the Difference
by Chris Voss

(*This may be the most useful book I’ve read in recent years.) When you are verbally assaulted, do not counterattack with insults. Instead, ask calibrated questions. Open-ended questions are the negotiator’s (good teammate’s) most useful weapon.

Building a Story Brand
by Donald Miller

If your message isn’t clear, no one will listen. A big part of being a teammate who helps others is to make the story about them, not you. Everyone is trying to avoid a tragic ending to their story, help them do so.

Best Practices Are Stupid
by Stephen M. Shapiro

To keep your team from being cult-like, where everyone thinks the same, make team members feel as though they have a vested interest in the results of effective innovation, and make sure they understand that their opinions count and voicing them is required.

Exactly What to Say
by Phil M. Jones

Using words that talk straight to the part of the brain that is free from “maybes” and responds on reflex gives you a conversational advantage. Influential teammates use “magic words.” They know exactly what to say, how to say it, and how to make it count.

Inmate Manipulation Decoded
by Anthony Gangi

As a team leader, your lack of empathy can cause your subordinates to fail. You set them up for toxic manipulation and fracture their loyalty if you chastise them in front of those whom they oversee.

Life in Five Senses
by Gretchen Rubin

To truly be a good teammate, you must make a deliberate effort to get in touch with your senses and appreciate the magic of the simple pleasures. This experience binds you to others and opens you to enlightenment.

Wake Up With Purpose: What I’ve Learned in My First 100 Years
by Sr. Jean Dolores Schmidt and Seth Davis

(Sister Jean is a natural treasure! She reminds me so much of Sister Eric Marie, whom I wrote about in my book Building Good Teammates.) Faith is a crucial component to discovering happiness in life, and not necessarily faith in a religious sense as much as faith in a higher calling/purpose to your life.

The Impact of Influence – Volume VI
by Chip Baker

A mentor’s influence has generational impact. The impact of every great teacher, coach, leader, etc. can be traced back to the influence someone in a similar position had on their life. Never discount the impact of the influence you have on others.

by Lori Z. Scott

This fictitious tale exploring the intersection of teenage angst and human trafficking serves as a stark reminder that sometimes the people with whom you think you are closest pose the most dangerous threats. (*If you’re a parent of teenagers or you coach or work with teens, you need to read this book!)

The 6 Types of Working Genius
by Patrick Lencioni

Finding happiness and fulfillment as part of a team is easier when you’re doing more of what you’re good at and less of what frustrates you. Everyone has a partiality towards one type of “working genius.” Productivity isn’t the result of getting the right people on the bus, it’s getting them in the right seats.

Challenger Deep
by Tami Matheny and Lindsey Hall

Golf balls were originally smooth. Manufacturers only started adding dimples to them after learning that golfers were hitting the old roughed up, dinged balls farther than new, smoother ones. In life, embrace your rough spots. They can be blessings in disguise and lead you to soar higher and farther.

The One Truth
by Jon Gordon

Connectedness greatly influences an individual’s willingness to be a good teammate. When you feel disconnected and separated, you are more susceptible to negative thoughts like doubt, distortion, discouragement, distraction, and division.

Rich Dad Poor Dad (25th Anniversary Edition)
by Robert T. Kiyosaki

It’s a story about contrasting approaches to financial management, but it’s also essentially a commentary on life boiling down to one key question: When your time on Earth nears its end, will you be more likely to be at ease with the pain of regret or the pain of resentment? Let your response be your guiding principle.

The Next Person You Meet in Heaven
by Mitch Albom

Life’s direction can change in the blink of an eye. Sometimes, the path to rediscovering happiness and purpose materializes through the practice of pivoting. Circumstances may preclude you from continuing to be a lead actor, so focus instead on being an amazing character actor.

Shoe Dog
by Phil Knight

For better or worse, you are remembered for the rules you break. When you come to “clutch moments” in your life, this axiom must always be at the forefront of your decision making.

One final note…

In addition to the books listed above, I also read several manuscripts fellow authors sent me throughout the year, soliciting feedback and/or endorsements. (One of those manuscripts, Offsides by Lori Z. Scott, was published in time to make it onto this year’s list!) I look forward to sharing more of them with you in the future.

If you’ve got any book recommendations, I welcome you to “share” them with me! I’m always open for recommendations.

As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.

Lance Loya is the founder and CEO of the Good Teammate Factory and the creator National Be a Good Teammate Day. He is a former sports coach turned bestselling author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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