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  • Writer's picturedrashishrastogi

Books that inspire

The non-fiction section in any book store is filled with books on management and self-help (or self-development) clamoring for attention.

The self-help book genre is a genie that confuses me because most of the time I can't decide which book I want to pick up. I guess it is due to the constant need I have for personal and professional development. Then there is the dilemma brought on by the plethora of choices. Which areas should I focus on? What do I want to improve next?

I end up asking my self- Which book can motivate me? Can reading this book help me make the next change? Choosing the book boils down to what doubt monster I am dealing with at that particular period. It is like listening to music. Your mood dictates your likeness of a song or album. If you are gloomy, dance tracks can be a pain to the ears.

Nonetheless, over the years I have picked up a few and tried (trust me, tried hard) to imbibe some of the things I have read. Here is my fav list of books that continue to inspire me.

1. The Secret of Leadership by Prakash Iyer: A wonderful book for anyone who is a wannabe or current leader in an organization or any social group. It is a delightful read of short stories about real people and incidents that inspire and open your eyes. The author takes you through four aspects - The leader within, leaders’ mindset, leaders’ way and leading teams. I picked this book during a period of serious self-doubt on my ability to lead my team. As you read through the stories you are left with thoughts that resonate with a lot of what is happening in your managerial/team lead life. The author helps you form your own resolutions and find a path unique to your circumstance.

I do not wish to spoil your fun in reading this book by giving too many details. However, I wish to leave you with few of my favourite lines from this book. A taste of what you get when you read this book.

“Getting a drivers licence does not make you a driver. It doesn’t make you an expert.”

“Learning to find happiness is the key. Run your own race. Celebrate your success. Don’t worry about the one that got away.”

“Hope is what ensures we keep going when all seems lost. But hope alone is never enough. You need to take responsibility and you need to take action.”

This book opened my eyes to what I needed to do and reinforced things that I was doing right. In the long run, it helped me in looking at the wider perspective on leadership and creating my own path.

2. Two birds in a tree by Ram Nidumolu: The tag line says, “ Timeless Indian Wisdom for business leaders.” This book is a must read for anyone who wishes to get a fresh perspective on practice of business and business practices.

The book introduces the concept of interconnections in the business world. Once concept that intrigued me was that “Business is a subsystem of the economy, which is the subsystem of humanity, which is a subsystem of nature and all these subsystems are ultimately in The Being.” In other words, every business exists in an ecosystem. If any of these subsystems are disturbed or un-healthy the ecosystem collapses.

Each chapter ends with a section on seeds. A series of questions that force you to introspect and think. One seed that this book planted in my mind is a question that I keep repeating to myself, “ Do you see your current work as a means to a calling, a way to build a career or a job that allows you to pursue deeper interests outside work?”

The book helped me raise my consciousness about self and my interactions with people. It helped me see business transactions in a different light and broaden my horizon beyond financial aspects.

3. My Gita by Devdutt Patnaik: A modern retelling of a sacred text. Using the basic elements and structure of the ancient book the author weaves a modern-day narrative. Reading the book makes you realize how relevant these thoughts are to the current age. Mr. Patnaik transforms age old wisdom into contemporary practice using many scientific and rational concepts. If you are open to looking beyond the spiritual or religious context, this is a book that will shake you.

The book has 18 chapters just like the Gita. Each chapter is a concept on life. Every chapter begins with a preface that presents a question or concept and ends with a summary.

My go to read in any moment of confusion on what I should do. When I am conflicted about what is the right action reading the pages helps clear my mind. Like the chapter ‘You and I can empathize’. It raises the question how one can act without expectation of the outcome. Through a series of examples and explanation the author leads you to “Dharma is about empathy and not ethics, about intent rather than outcome.” So focus on the intent of your action rather than the outcome.

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