my top non-fiction of 2021

I did a lot of reading in 2021! This was the first year in a long time that I read both fiction and non-fiction. Today I want to share my favorite non-fiction reads of the year. They range from memoirs to business to personal development.

10% Happier by Dan Harris– This was the first book I read in 2021. Dan Harris, ABC News correspondent, wrote this book about how he found meditation after having a panic attack on television. While I’ve never been a meditator, I do know people that swear by it. Part of the reason I like this book is that Dan doesn’t try to tell you that meditation is going to change your life drastically or that it fixes all your problems. He’s quite real about, saying that meditation makes him 10% happier. Even though I didn’t become a lifelong meditator after reading this book, my takeaway was finding time to get quiet with myself. Instead of constantly being connected to something- on the phone, scrolling social media, reading emails, having a conversation, listening to music– it’s important to get quiet and listen to my thoughts (as scary or uncomfortable as they are at times). I also enjoyed Dan’s writing style as well as his candidness.

Believe It by Jamie Kern Lima– I had no idea who Jamie Kern Lima was before someone recommended (and gave me) this book. I enjoy memoirs of successful entrepreneurs because it’s inspiring and motivating. Jamie Kern Lima is a regular person, who had a dream and extreme grit, and made something happen for herself. She committed to utilizing QVC to sell her IT Cosmetics and worked tirelessly to make it happen. She eventually sold IT Cosmetics to L’Oreal for $1.2 billion. Definitely a worthwhile read for an aspiring entrepreneur.

Lessons by Gisele Bundchen– Another great read from someone I knew nothing about prior to picking up this book. Obviously I knew who Gisele was but I didn’t know her story. I saw that this book was on a list of recommended memoirs and decided to read it. I really enjoyed learning about her childhood, her modeling career, and now her work as a philanthropist and mother.

Now we’re getting to the really good stuff…

Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg– Habits, habit building, habit stacking- this is a topic I can talk about all day. It’s something I’m truly passionate about. I’ve read a bunch of books on how to build habits, how to break habits, and the science between why we can stick with some habits more easily than others. I absolutely LOVE BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model because once you see it, it makes so much sense. Ready for it? Ok, here it is:

B (behavior) = M (motivation) + A (ability) + P (prompt)

In order for the B (behavior) to happen, all three elements- M + A + P must happen at the same time. Fogg gives so many great examples of behaviors that are easy for us to do. For instance – stopping at McDonalds on our way home from work. Motivation- I’m hungry; Ability- I’m passing three McDonalds drive thrus; Prompt- my stomach rumbled. Those three things happening at the same time will lead us to the Behavior of stopping at the drive-thru. Fogg goes into how to change our Motivation, Ability, and Prompts to make it easier for us to adopt habits (or break habits). It’s truly fascinating stuff. He even helps you create a My Recipe card for habits. I would highly recommend this book for anyone that wants to build new habits or break old ones, or if you just like to nerd out on stuff like this like me!

Limitless by Jim Kwik– Known as the boy with a broken brain, Jim Kwik, who suffered brain injuries as a child had major difficulties learning and trouble retaining information as he went through school. As Jim got older he was encouraged to start reading a book a week, from there he delve into the topic of learning. He went from being the boy with the broken brain to someone he believes is limitless in his ability to do whatever it is he wants. Over the course of the years, he developed a model, call The Limitless Model. There are three sections: mindset, motivation, and methods. If you’re running up against a roadblock in trying to reach a goal it is because you’re experiencing in one or more of these areas.

He describes mindset, motivation and methods as follows:

Mindset (the WHAT): deeply held beliefs, attitudes and assumptions we create about who we are, how the world works and what we are capable and deserve, and what is possible

Motivation (the WHY): the purpose one has for taking action. The energy required for someone to behave in a particular way.

Method (the HOW): a specific process for accomplishing something, especially an orderly, logical or systematic way of instruction.

Think about that for a minute. What’s something you say you want to do? Are you lacking the right mindset? The motivation? Or the tools you need to accomplish your goal? This book goes into how to rid yourself of limiting beliefs, how to light your motivation on motivation and processes that will help you systematically accomplish your goals. Basically, Kwik helps you find the place where your mindset, motivation and methods all align so you can become limitless too! Such a great read!

Tractiong by Gino Wickman– I can’t say enough about how great this book was. For anyone that works in a small business or is thinking about starting your own business, this book is a must-read. Being a business school nerd, it brought me back to my days in MBA classes where we talked about topics that were abstract considering I had minimal business experience at the time. Now, 15 years into working (most in a small business environment) I see how important the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is. Wickman identifies six components that make up the EOS- vision, people, data, issues, process and traction.

Some of the key takeaways I got from this book are:

  • Start with the vision. What is the 10-year goal of the company and then work backward to the 5 year, 3 year, and 1 year.
  • Develop your company’s language (or culture). Do we all use the same lingo, shorthand, phrases, etc. Do we have goals for the year? Or objectives? Are we a company or a firm?
  • Leadership team meetings should have an agenda and the agenda should be adhered to.
  • “The ability to create accountability and discipline, and then execute is the are of greatest weakness in most organizations.” Yes, yes, yes!
  • As the leader of the organization, you need to stop working in the business 100% of the time and work on the business at times. Me, taking it a step further- You will never be successful if you are too busy with day to day minutiae. You have to set aside time each week to review the week, look at the P&L, prioritize issues, etc.

Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins– If you want to read a book about someone who had the odds stacked against him but overcame struggles time and time again, this is the book for you. David Goggins is as strong physically as he is mentally (if not more so). I had this book on my shelf for about 9 months before I picked it up to read the week before my first running race of 2021. Perfect timing, considering Goggins is not only a Navy SEAL but also an ultra-marathon and triathlon runner- someone who has put his body through hell and back more times than anyone can track. If he can run 100 mile races, I definitely could run a 15k. (-:

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown- As someone who struggles with perfectionism and being enough I found this book to be inspiring. It offered me a different perspective, and gave me tools and ideas on how to deal with these feelings that will sometimes overwhelm me. A very common theme in many books I’ve read is to let go of what others think about you. While it’s easy to say, it’s not so easy to do. We all struggle with it to varying degrees. Other themes, in that same vain, are: to get comfortable with who you are, trust yourself more, and don’t be afraid to let your freak flag fly.

The High 5 Habit by Mel Robbins– I’m a big fan of Mel Robbins. Something about her high vibe, get it done, no excuse energy just gets me going. Mel is a lawyer, speaker, author, entrepreneur, coach, wife, and mother of three. And she’s pretty kick-ass. This book is about giving yourself a high 5 every single morning when you wake up. Which may sound a little silly and awkward but in the book she talks about how this positive little action every morning can change the trajectory of your entire day. Imagine if your first thought every day was “YES!!! I get to wake up and workout and go to work today!” rather than “Ugh, I don’t want to get up yet. Today is going to suck!” Well, the high 5 habit is Mel’s way of starting your day with a little jolt of “Go me!” energy. And it works– if you’re consistent and you go into it with the right energy.

The book isn’t just 200 pages worth of her selling her high 5 strategy to you. My two favorite chapters were the ones on jealousy and the one on, what I’ll refer to as, the universe conspiring. First, the one on jealousy. Mel says we shouldn’t ignore our feelings of jealousy, that instead we should lean into that feeling and ask why. Why are we feeling the way we do? If so-and- so has something we want, instead of assuming we can’t have it too, ask questions- get curious. If you are feeling jealous, there’s a reason. It doesn’t make you a bad person. In fact, to me, it’s a hint that there’s something out there for you to work towards. As Mel puts it, if you’re feeling jealousy or cattiness towards something someone else has, it means you want it but that you’re blocked by self doubt. #truthbomb

Next, the chapter on “everything happens for a reason.” I know that is probably one of the most cliche things you can possibly say in the world but it’s true. Mel describes an elaborate story of a painting that she saw at restaurant and decided that she wanted. It was way too expensive for her taste at the time but she never held out hope that she’d one day have that one of a kind painting. I’m not going to spoil whole story, but I’ll leave you with the paragraph that I loved from this chapter:

“You can always connect the dots in your life if you are looking back. The true art is believing that this moment right now is a dot that is connecting you to something amazing that’s coming in the future. Trust is a major component of that– trusting in yourself, your abilities and the divine nature of things. That everything in your life is preparing you for something that hasn’t happened yet. You may not be able to see how all the dots connect on the map of your life, but they do indeed connect.”

As you can see, I have a lot to say about these books. I started with a top 10 list but I realized this was getting a little long. A couple other recommendations I have are: Discover Your Dharma by Sahara Rose and Built Through Courage by Dave Hollis.

Would love to hear if anyone else has read any of these books and what you’ve thought about them. And please feel free to share your recommendations with me too!

Cheers to books!

❤ L

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