Have you ever walked out of a meeting feeling like you presented yourself terribly? How about the feeling like no matter what you say to the person sitting across from you they’re still going to despise you?

Often when we get these impressions from people we are ultimately projecting our own feelings onto them. They may just be having a stressful day, or something may be bothering them in their personal lives. It’s easy to forget that the person we are talking to has a life outside of their daily interaction with us; and feel like if they are upset, it must be because of something we did or said. To be fair, some people are genuinely abrasive, and I don’t advise backing down to these people. Never be afraid to speak your mind and stand up for yourself. There is a balance between assertiveness and aggressiveness. Never allow yourself to get angry. Once you get angry you have allowed the situation to dictate your feelings. We should never allow the environment to dictate our emotional state; that’s how animals live their lives. When things get tense or heated; I find that the best method is to detach myself from the situation and reassess all the variables. Detachment has been a great tactic in understanding my audience. By taking yourself out of the equation you can look at it from a practical perspective. There may be factors at play that you failed to consider when you were emotionally invested in the conversation.

A mentor once said to me, “no matter how old you get don’t forget that we’re all still kids in a playground.” How right he was. Our playground becomes the places we work; and playground rules will always apply. If you let the school bully knock you down once you’re doomed to be his punching bag for the rest of the time you’re there. As a disclaimer, I DO NOT condone violence. I believe you can say anything you want to anyone you want but delivery is key. You must put yourself in the minds of your audience. What will this person respond to? What are their life principles? Knowing a little about your audience will serve you well when communicating with them. You can relate to them more. People want you to understand them as much as you want to be understood. A great book I read on communication was Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson. As a coach you must become a master at reading people because your job ultimately depends on your ability to simultaneously communicate with a wide variety of personalities. Can you imagine what it might have been like to coach Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman? It’s no different for any of us on any day of the week.

You must learn to communicate effectively with whoever you are talking to; whether it’s the CEO or the maintenance person. We are all very different, but we are all really the same. We all want to be valued and respected; if we suspect that either of those things are in jeopardy we’ll defend them tooth and nail. So, spend time learning how to read a person. Be genuine, people can immediately sense when you are coming across as phony. A simple lunch will pay dividends when it comes to building relationships. What’s more universal than eating? Take an interest in the people you work with. Everyone has an amazing story to tell, if only someone would take the time to listen.

If you’re interested in reading Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, check out the link below. I personally loved this book and found Phil’s insights highly applicable to both my personal and professional life.

I believe the content we consume plays a role in shaping, or at the very least, influencing our perspective of the world. In turn, these external factors affect how we interact with the world. Books have always been a never-ending source of joy and learning for me. Today our lives are so busy that we often find little time to devote to reading but if you truly are on a quest for personal development, and are serious about instilling a growth mindset in yourself, than its critical that you make time to learn from those who came before us or who are willing to share their experiences. I don’t believe it’s only important to read non-fiction. On the contrary, I believe fiction is equally as important. Throughout human history human beings have communicated lessons by telling stories. These stories have helped to shape civilizations. So devote some time to read both fiction and non-fiction. Lately I have found audio books to be a great supplement to physically sitting down and actively reading a book. I often use this as a method of screening a book before I read it. Once I get complete the audio version I find that I will read the printed version much quicker and retain more information. If I end up not enjoying the audio version, or abandoning it all together, than at least I gave it a chance. A great quote that I often repeat to myself whenever I pick up a new book, “life is too short to read a book you don’t like”. I agree with this on many levels. Life is short. If you’re going to spend time reading then it’s worth reading something that will bring you joy. The following books have helped me at different points in my life and I often find myself turning back to them. Each time brings new insight and perspective regardless of what’s going on in my life at that present moment.

 

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

To some people this choice might be somewhat cliché but this story made such an impact on my life that I could not help but post it first. There’s a reason why this book has been translated into many languages and published all over the world. It’s a beautiful story that all of us can relate to. Ultimately this book inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and leave home to study engineering. I was at a point in my life where I felt stagnant. I would come home each night and feel a growing anxiety. I would find myself overwhelmed with dread. I can only equate this feeling to the sensation of drowning. This story inspired me to seek out my treasure. No matter what you’re searching for in life it will never some easy. You will always encounter obstacles along the way. You will meet some good people, who will help you on your journey, and also some bad ones. That’s normal. The important thing is to never lose sight of your dream. The universe wants us to succeed but we have to be willing to walk across a desert. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, “how bad do I really want this?”

 

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

This is an amazing book and one that everyone should read at least once in their life. Frankl’s analysis on the psyche of a concentration camp prisoner is powerful and thought provoking. It’s an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish and leaves the reader in awe. It showed me how powerful the human spirit is and that there is nothing I can’t endure. Endure may not be the right word. Life is more than just surviving. Life is about thriving, it’s about finding meaning. You can find meaning no matter the circumstances. I read this at a time in my life when I was working a dead end job that gave me no joy. I was inspired to change my perspective on my situation. Things are only bad if we lose hope. Once a person loses hope than the body ceases to function. Hope and meaning are the most important things in life. Take some time to reflect on the things that bring meaning to your life. Are you giving them attention? Are you growing in the ways that are important to you? The human spirit is infinitely resilient yet many of us tend to forget that. We allow the minutia of the day to take away from us living our best lives. We can accomplish anything we put our minds on. The human spirit can find meaning in the darkest hour despite the circumstances. I love this book and its one that I find myself turning to again and again.

 

Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

I first heard of Tony from watching the movie Shallow Hal. Initially, I pegged him for a sort of telemarketer guru but nothing could be further from the truth. Tony brings a relentless energy and passion to anything he does. His content is inspiring, relatable and full of wisdom. This book forces you to reflect on yourself. The techniques require you analyze how you interact and perceive the world. I believe that no matter what point we are in our lives we can make any changes we want. The key is to want it bad enough and associate massive amount of pain to behaviors that disempower us. Ultimately change only happens if we’re willing to put in massive amounts of work to make it happen. If you purchase this book I highly recommend completing the exercises. This wont be a quick read, it’ll be a slow painstaking process. You will realize things about yourself that you never knew. Some of it might be painful to think about but afterwards you will feel rejuvenated and so much more aware of who you are as a person.