5 Break Through Books for Today’s Creatives

I heard a podcast guest say she doesn’t like to read business books for her job, because there’s so many new business books and so few new ideas.

So, when authors do come up with new ideas, we need to celebrate, clap and cheer.

These are break through books.

These are the books that are going to help today’s creative.  Because we are more distracted than ever before.  But, it’s easier than ever before to reach our audience and build our tribe and find our patrons and make a living.

Creatives face unique problems:  creating a life where they can do their work well, finding the people that appreciate their work, making a living from what they create.  It’s all a challenge, even today.

These are the pioneers who are showing the way.

(Note: “Buy now” links are affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase will support this site.)

  Buy now from Amazon

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Newport first builds the case for the importance of deep work, then he expounds on practical steps to accomplish it.  Simply put, what is needed is focus and discipline.

I agree with Newport’s main premise:  we are doing worse work because we’re distracted.  I see it all the time in the low quality of books that are published and the huge vacuums that exist in many genres for high quality work.

Newport is a college professor.  Publishing in scholarly journals is the deep work he needs to accomplish.  I think the principles apply to all writers, and probably all knowledge workers in general.

I think the most profound books are ones that are simple common sense:  ones that people agree with and see the wisdom of, but haven’t be able to articulate themselves.  It seems so simple.  So obvious.  And, yet, it wasn’t done before.  I would put The Purpose Driven Life in that category as well as Deep Work.

   Buy now from Amazon

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt

I’ve followed Michael Hyatt’s blog for a while and find his advice practical and succinct.  I even self-hosted this blog on his recommendation and with his affiliate link.  Even though the book was nothing more than a collection of blog posts, some of which I’d already read, I found the information helpful. Especially interesting to me were the collection of short chapters about using Twitter: a new world for me.  All his writing rings true, down to the necessity of building a platform and the step by step on how to do it.

Building a platform online changes so fast, that some of the information in this book is dated, but the basic premise remains the same:  you can build an audience or a tribe or a following by leveraging the incredible resources on the internet today.

  Buy now from Amazon

The One Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

I’ve been wanting to read The  One Thing FOREVER. I think I’ve been on my library’s waitlist for over a year.

Now I know what all the rave reviews are about.  This is a GREAT book!

It addresses the problem of distracted focus and the importance of lasering in on your most important work in order to achieve excellence.

A huge light bulb moment for me reading The One Thing was the idea of chaos derailing you and distracting you from your one thing.

Chapter 17, The Four Thieves of Productivity hit me hard.

The Four Thieves are:

1. Inability to Say “No”
2. Fear of Chaos
3. Poor Health Habits
4. Environment Doesn’t Support Your Goals.

Wow. These were so good and right on the money.

“The One Thing explains the success habit to overcome the six lies that block our success, beat the seven thieves that steal time, and leverage the laws of purpose, priority, and productivity.” –from Goodreads

   Buy now from Amazon

Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins

This book is a game changer.

It challenges long held beliefs and deconstructs myths.

Real Artists Don’t Starve doesn’t just refer to painters and sculptors, but writers, poets, and creatives of all types.

The twelve principles that emerged from Jeff studying creatives are supported by success stories from today and throughout history.

I love lots of them, but my favorite is about C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and the literary group they belonged to, the Inklings.  They shaped each other’s art.  It debunks the myth of the lone genius and highlights the need to work in collaboration.

This message is important for young people who have been told to put their dreams on hold in favor of a steady income.

It’s also important for older people who have not pursued their dreams believing in the inability of artists to make a living.

It’s time for a paradigm shift and Jeff Goins is leading the way

  Buy now from Amazon

Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz

If Jeff Goins makes the argument that creatives should be getting paid for their work, Mike Michalowicz teaches the best way to handle that business income.

What an incredible book.

It tackles the default method of operating a small business:  pay all expenses first and take profit last.

Michalowicz argues that you when you operate that way, expenses will take all your income.  If you plan to take profit first, and also make a plan to compensate the owners, set aside money for taxes and operate on what’s left, your business becomes much healthier.

Expansions are realistic.  You don’t face cash flow problems.

I think it’s a great way to go.

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And there you have it:  five break through books for today’s creatives.  How to do the work, how to get paid for it and how to manage the money once it starts flowing.

What books would you recommend for today’s creative? 

P.S. Did you see these book lists?

5 Can’t Miss Books for Introverts

Love Stories You Can Feel Good Recommending

Awesome Middle Grade Novels Adults Will Love

Five Minute Friday: Praise

Welcome to our world, sweet Caroline!  I’m lovin’ wearing the Grandma hat.

Today’s Five Minute Friday word prompt is praise.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community.

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Sometimes praise comes easily.

When the baby arrives safely and mom and baby are healthy and you take on the “Grandma” role for the first time.

But life doesn’t always go the way you hope and pray.

How do you praise when the answer to prayer is not what you hoped?

First of all you have to grieve.  Pry those fingers lose from the dream that died.  Sorrow and mourn and cry.

Then, as John Piper says, you wash your face and embrace the life God has given you.

The praise afterwards might be a little more sober, looking towards the ultimate reality and the ultimate praise that no earthly joy can touch.

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What bloggers can learn from Fred Rogers

I’m fascinated by the life of Fred Rogers.  I admire what he accomplished and what he stood for.      He was a creative genius, for sure.  But, I think it’s safe to say that his driving motivation wasn’t to build a following or become rich and famous.

Fred Rogers is best known for his decades long running show for children on PBS called Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

What is less well known is that he was a Presbyterian minister.

It’s interesting that he built his show around “neighbor”, probably more than a nod to the Good Samaritan.

He was intrigued by the medium of television.

But, he purposely focused on one child.  He talked to one child every day.

Building a following after all, is just one person plus one person multiplied a lot of times.

If you have a passion to communicate something, that passion will build something. If you focus on one person, and touch them deeply with your message, chances are, you can scale it, and touch lots of people.

I think we can learn from that.

It’s easy to look at people who have a  huge following and forget that they are touching one person at a time.  That is especially true for blogging.

Of course, you do have the interesting dynamic of a group of fans of the same person, especially if they show up in person in the same room.

 

 

 

Feeling Discouraged?

Do you struggle with discouragement?  I do.

The feeling that you’re not making any forward progress.  The temptation to throw in the towel and walk away.

The temptation to not get up time after time after time.

You do have to know when it’s time to walk away.  When it’s time to stop trying.

But when the right thing to do is to keep going, the best antidote I know to discouragement is perspective.

Getting up above the daily grind and seeing the long view again.  Looking at our lives through the lens of eternity.

Each day’s efforts has an impact on eternity.

We will soar like wing as eagles. We will run and not grow weary. We will walk and not faint.

It’s the eagle’s perspective that we need. The 30,000 foot view. Soaring above the daily problems.

Knowing the why is important. Believing that there is a purpose. Believing that God is in control.

It’s impossible to go on without those assurances.

We need to be reminded of them daily.

It takes a renewing of the mind to change our perspective.

We have to change our habits of thought.

That takes time and practice and intention.

Some of it is choosing to believe truth.

Some of it is focusing on the positive instead of the negative.

Some of it is meditating on the love of God for us.

Some of it is focusing on hope instead of despair.

We can’t live without hope.

We have to remind ourselves of truth.

We need to meditate on it.

What we believe and what we tell ourselves all day long makes a huge difference in how we act and what we do.

Figuring out our core beliefs is critical and difficult. Because our hearts are deceitful.

Challenging the lies is an important part of finding perspective.

Aligning ourselves with truth is important and difficult. It takes a step of faith or a leap of faith. Sometimes we have to take God at his word, even when we’re not feeling it.

Five Minute Friday: Potential

It’s good to be back to the Five Minute Friday challenge.  Last weekend we got away for a little R & R.  We’re still trying to recoup from a busy summer.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community.

This week’s word prompt is potential.

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I don’t think we should be telling kids that they can grow up to be whatever they want to be.

The truth is: they can’t.

Some don’t have the physical capabilities to be an Olympic athlete.

Some don’t have the metal capabilities to be a rocket scientist.

Isn’t it a disservice to tell kids to dream big and watch them shoot for a future that is unrealistic?

On the other hand, there’s no accounting for grit and determination.

People have accomplished a lot of things that are unrealistic.

But, I think we should shoot straight with kids and let them know that they are wired for great potential in some areas, but not every area.

Not every dream they can dream for their life should be pursued.

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How Our Social Circles Shape our Identity

In our earliest days, all of our communities– our circles of influence– are chosen for us.

Our families, churches, schools, neighborhoods.  All chosen by those responsible for our lives.

But, the day comes–on the playground, in the lunchroom– when we start to build our own communities.  To choose the people we tell our secrets to.  To forge friendships and gather tribes.

This happens in the context of the universe that was already predetermined.  But, the process has begun.  Some kids are friends and some are not.

We begin to choose groups with common interests:  band, soccer, drama, chess club, youth group.  Now we are with people who have similar gifts, goals or passions.  We share time pursuing activities that we are mutually interested in.

Belonging to a group shapes our identity, and in turn, our identity shapes the group.

We jockey for position, for a pecking order, for our role in the group.

Someday we will leave that circle.  But the memory of that group and the part we played in it becomes an integral part of ourselves.

Eventually, we move on as autonomous adults who choose the communities they belong to.  At least, most of them.  You might not choose to be a prisoner or a widow, but you choose your church and job and spouse.  You choose book club or AA or Mary Kay.

This is one of the many reasons why family reunions and schools reunions are so important.  Our identity is formed by the communities we didn’t choose as well as the ones we did.

The better we understand what shaped us, the better choices we can make in choosing and creating the communities of our present and future.

5 Can’t Miss Books for Introverts

Understanding introversion changes the game.

Books filled with aha moments deserve a special place on the shelves.

These are the ones.

  Buy now from Amazon 

Reading Marti Olsen Laney’s The Introvert Advantage was the first time I heard the term “phone phobia”. It had a name. It was a real thing. And other people had it. I can’t tell you how freeing that was.

I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t defective. I was an introvert. A very normal introvert with all the normal challenges.

It made a huge difference in my mindset.

The very name of the book and the whole tone put introversion in a new light. It highlighted the upside. It pointed out the strengths. Yes, it showed the advantage.
I was able to embrace my quirks in a new way, and actually come to appreciate them.

  Buy now from Amazon 

Susan Cain’s Quiet has quickly become a classic on introverts, with good reason.

Another positive look at introversion and the benefits for individuals and society as a whole.

“At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society. “– Goodreads

  Buy now from Amazon 

Even though Richard Swenson’s Margin doesn’t address Introverts directly, these concepts are key for introverts to be able to manage their lives.

Swenson deals with the need to build margin into four important areas of life:  time, finances, physical energy and emotional energy.

Before reading Margin, I didn’t realize that emotional energy was a finite resource– one that could be conserved and protected.  Game changer.

For introverts, social energy is intricately tied to physical energy. When one is depleted, the other is depleted. Recharge time becomes imperative.

One of the best ways for introverts to recharge is by reading.

  Buy now from Amazon 

Which brings me to Anne Bogel’s book, I’d Rather Be Reading.

Bookish kindred spirits know exactly what Anne is talking about when she mentions reading under the blanket with a flashlight and staying up till 2 am to finish a book because you have to find out what happens next.

For the introvert, living vicariously through the lives of the characters you’re reading about replenishes the social, emotional and physical energy that’s been depleted.

Without the further drain of social interaction, the introvert can recharge the batteries and be ready for the world again.

  Buy now from Amazon 

Lauren Sapala’s The INFJ Writer was full of aha moments for me. I don’t know how many INFJ writers there are in the world, but she really nailed it.  She also spends time in the book discussing the INFP writer, as well as the other intuitive types.

Developing a thick skin isn’t really an option for the INFJ. Better to protect the creative process and only show your work to sympathetic souls until the process is essentially done. Then the critics can have at it.

She talks about how she quit writing for a period of years after a creative writing class in college devastated her. But, without writing in her life, essentially her soul began to shrivel.

When she took it up again (after a round of AA meetings proved helpful), she found a non-judgemental group that allowed her to create without attacks, criticism or opinion.

This fed her soul and she was able to thrive in life again with writing as the outlet she needed.

I can identify with all of that.  Well, everything but the AA meetings.

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Other book lists you might like:

Love Stories You Feel Good Recommending

Awesome Middle Grade Novels Adults Will Love

 

Five Minute Friday: Crowd

Happy Friday!

I’m thankful for some cooler temps, for incremental changes and hope for the future.  How about you?

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community.

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What do you do when you don’t want to go along with the crowd?

When you don’t agree and think they’ve been deceived?

How do you find a way to engage? A compassionate way. A grace-filled way.

People don’t want to pry their fingers loose from deeply held beliefs, even when they are irrational.

So, how do you start the conversation?

How do you foster openness and receptivity?

How do you express your convictions to a hostile crowd?

Does logic matter or is it just an emotional decision?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know I’m looking for a way to get my foot in the door.

Somehow, there has to be a way to engage. Somewhere, there is an answer.

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When you juggle glass balls and rubber balls

Life is a juggling act.  The trick is figuring out which balls are glass and which ones are rubber.  

Identifying our top priorities is critical to life success.

To use a parallel metaphor, the classic illustration of putting the big rocks in first has to do with a jar. If you fill your jar with pebbles and sand first, you won’t be able to fit the big rocks in. If you put the big rocks in first, then the pebbles and sand and water will fill in all the cracks and you accomplish more with your life than when you’re just chasing all the little things and ignoring the most important priorities.

Putting in the big rocks means choosing to prioritize the glass balls. Making everything else fit into the smaller cracks.

So, if you’re going to avoid overwhelm, you’re going to have to assign your priorities and make peace with them. That means if you slip up on something else, you extend grace to yourself. You keep your focus where it needs to be. On the most important things.

Stephen Covey in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Amy Lynn Andrews in Tell Your Time talk about organizing your life around roles.

This is one way to identify which of your balls are glass and which are rubber. In general, your relationships, especially family, are going to be glass. Work is generally rubber, meaning if you drop a ball at work, or something slips through the cracks, it will bounce back. You can make apologies, clean up the messes and keep going.

Prioritizing your important tasks helps you fight the urge to always be a tyrant to the urgent. Even prioritizing your relationships isn’t enough, though. As well as quality time, you also have to be doing the right things with your important relationships.

So many people get stuck in life. They keep going in circles making the same mistakes over and over again.

It takes some down time to identify priorities.  It takes some quiet reflection and some hard mental work.  Who can do that when you’re overwhelmed?  But, it still needs to happen.  Fight for it.  It’s totally worth it.

 

Five Minute Friday: Rain

Happy Friday!

It’s been an overcast, drippy day here in northern Indiana.

Perfect for thinking about Kate’s word prompt:  Rain.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community.

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Would we ever choose the rain, if it were up to us?

Wouldn’t we always choose sunny days?

And, yet, God knows we need the rain for growth.

It’s essential. To have cloudy, overcast days. To have the storms in our lives, even the ones that do damage.

No, we wouldn’t choose them.

Sometimes we have to ride them out. Sometimes we cry out to the One in Control, “Please still the wind and the waves.” Sometimes He does.

Other times He holds us, sustaining us through the worst of it.

We know the rain is essential, even when we don’t choose it.

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