The Lost Art of Good Conversation

“BEGINNING A CONVERSATION is an act of bravery . . . Feeling vulnerable is an act of gentleness. Bravery is an act of fearlessness. Without these two, conversation will never be initiated.” Once we learn how to string words together the world takes on a new meaning. Sakyong Mipham wrote THE LOST ART OF GOOD CONVERSATION: A Mindful Way to Connect with Others and Enrich Everyday Life to remind us how much power we have in and with our words.

Everyone knows that words have the power of life or death. But how often do we truly and intentionally exercise the power of the spoken word when we are engaged in a conversation. The author used his Hinayana Buddhism background to write about his insights into the topic. The common theme throughout the book is to rediscover the many ways you can be gentle with our conversations and interactions with one another. Let your conversations develop organically, stop trying to anticipate what the person is trying to say . . . just be still (ooh that is so hard at times).

In reading this book, I realized there was more I had forgotten about having a good conversation and more that I remembered about having a bad conversation. Mr. Mipham wrote, “The danger is that while we are more connected now to the whole world than we ever have been before, we are less connected to people in our everyday life.” If you are or feel disconnected, socially awkward, or just shy this book will remind you how less complicated it is to take that first step. At its core it is about the type of connectivity you choose to have with others. “Our identity is a web of interactions. We are so interconnected that our relationships define us.” Be brave and continue to redefine who you are!

THOUGHTS For Your SOUL:

  • “Identifying strongly with our thoughts and emotions, we mistake them for a solid “me,” and then defend that apparition against the world.”
  • “Conversation is a practice of nowness . . . Ultimately, nowness cannot be expressed; it must be experienced . . . and recommends these three things
    1. Nowness is nonnegotiable
    2. Nowness requires appreciation
    3. Being free of attachment – you need to be daring and delightful
  • “Conversation becomes an art when it transports us from self-absorption to being aware of the thoughts and feelings of others.”

THE LOST ART OF CONVERSATION is an easy, thoughtful book. It will leave you feeling inspired and glad that you read it. In this crowded arena of self-help books it is refreshing to find a book that you can use immediately. The title would make you think that it is a heavy, deeply intuitive book. Quite the opposite. Although we should know the difference between good and bad conversations. At the end of the day, a conversation is just that . . . Communication between two or more people who choose to make it as simple or complex as they choose. “Remember, [good conversation is] a compliment, [as well as] a gift; to accept it with grace has the effect of pleasing the giver.” Turn off the television, put down your smart phone, take a break from your solitude, and enjoy someone’s company with a good conversation.

Let’s BOND over BOOKS:

  • Recommends reading and/or sharing this book
  • Rates THE LOST ART OF GOOD CONVERSATION: A Mindful Way to Connect with Others and Enrich Everyday Life as MELODICALLY MEANINGFUL (151-300 pages) . . . Just the right mixture of content and pages!

 

Disclaimer: BONDing over Books received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

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Power Surge

powersurge The world has changed faster than the church, and now it is time for the church to catch up and learn to speak and act in ways that the world can understand.” The ways of old are no longer sufficient to draw people to church. POWER SURGE: Six Marks of Discipleship For a Changing Church by Michael W. Foss provides his opinion on how churches can make the transition easy.

Although POWER SURGE is written for the leaders of the church, it is applicable to everyone in the church because it touches on many aspects of church governance. For some, it is a reminder of what the role of a church “leader/visionary” should be.

POWER SURGE focuses on the obstacles that hinder growth, such as attitudes of entitlement, lack of knowledge, stubbornness, etc. Unfortunately, many church leaders are managers who maintain the status quo rather than take a risk and step out on faith who are responsible for making decisions that will shape the future of their church. The author outlines six critical marks of leadership to help us understand the process:

  1.  Leading From Faith – “[Leaders] should recapture the spiritual roots of their calling.”
  2. Seeing and Casting the Vision – “No matter what a leader’s vision might be, it must be capable of capturing the hearts and wills of those who follow.”
  3. Contextualizing the Vision – “To place the vision firmly and realistically within the community’s context . . . The passion of the vision is achieved when the leader entrusts it to the whole community.”
  4. Aligning the Congregation to the Vision – “Making a personal commitment to spiritual growth with spiritual integrity as an up front requirement, and change the culture of a large organization through the power of a new vision.”
  5. Continually Communicating the Vision – “Keep repeating the vision and inspiring those who follow to embrace it . . . Leaders all too frequently under-communicate the vision.”
  6. Change Management – “Manage change through continued implementation because the natural resistance to change does not go away simply because change has been introduced.”

All of the plans, strategies, and programs don’t make a difference if you don’t have a product to sell (think about the vision). The wisdom shared is relatable, applicable, whether reading POWER SURGE individually or as a group, it does not make you more religious, hopefully it will make you and you fellow members more empowered.

THOUGHTS For Your SOUL:

  • There is a “High percentage of north american adults who nominally claim to be Christian but whose beliefs have little or no power to shape their lives, let alone add value or significance to their families and communities.
  • “Failure and conflict are harsh teachers, but they are teachers. The key is to not get stuck in them but to learn from them and get back to work.”
  • “Biblical and theological integrity demands that we make our positions clear.”
  • “Persistence is the Siamese twin of courage. Perseverance will overcome great barriers and outlast strong opposition.”

I enjoyed reading POWER SURGE and before you dismiss it as just another “church” book, read it with an open mind because it offers fresh ways of approaching ministry. It reminded me that there is very little difference between the governance of church and running a company. Both revolve around power, control, and while the intentions are admirable, the tendency still leans towards maintaining the status quo and slow to embrace change. While on the other hand, many church leaders crave and relish power/control and don’t want to give it up.

Whether impulsive or cautious, we are still accountable for the change we seek. How can you hold someone to a standard you are not willing to hold yourself to?

Let’s BOND Over BOOKS rates POWER SURGE as MELODICALLY MEANINGFUL (151-300 pgs) . . . Just the right mixture of content and pages.

Disclaimer – Permission granted from Augsburg Fortress Publishers.

The Power of Broke

powerofbrokeWHEN YOU START from a place of nothing much at all, when you’re hungry and laser-focused on succeeding at whatever it is you’re out to do, when you’re flat-out determined to get where you’re going no matter what . . .because when you are operating with limited resources – financial or otherwise – you’re forced to find creative ways to get the most bang out of every buck.” That’s what Daymond John writes about in THE POWER OF BROKE: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage.”

In 2014, 275 of the wealthiest Americans on the Forbes 400 list were self-made entrepreneurs.” Daymond John shares some of the advice that propelled him to unparalleled heights with his FUBU clothing line and further heightened his “brand” through the Shark Tank reality show. He uses his expertise, unique perspective and ability to align himself with people who want to learn and grow from him, as well as run their businesses more efficiently. If you’re thinking about starting a new business or revamping an existing business, THE POWER OF BROKE should be on your bookshelf.

  1. Set a Goal – Set it all down on paper. 2. Homework, Do Yours – There are no new ideas – only new ways to execute those ideas. 3. Adore What You Do – Own it, love it, live it . . . and you can find a way to make it work. 3. Remember, You Are the Brand – It all starts with how you carry yourself. 4. Keep Swimming – You have to be relentless, nimble, moving ever forward. These are the five key SHARK points that will help guide you.

Each chapter showcases individuals who relentlessly struggled to follow their dreams. From a college student, Christopher Gray, who developed an app named “Scholly” to help students navigate the clutter and confusion of college scholarships” (By the way, he earned 1.3 million in scholarships). To middle school student, Moziah Bridges who started his line of handcrafted bow ties, named “MO’s Bows,” as well as Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of under Armour activewear clothing line.

Daymond John also writes about the value of the smart phone. “You don’t need a whole lot of resources to change your life. Sometimes everything you need is right there in the smart phone you hold in your hands.” He also writes about the value and importance of a mentor. In a “2012 survey by MicroMentoring.org showed that people who participated in a mentoring relationship saw their revenue increase by an average of $47,000 – or 106 percent! Those who did not participate saw their revenues go up only $6,600 – or 14 percent.”

THOUGHTS For Your SOUL:

  • “69 percent of successful entrepreneurs have worked over 10 years as employees at other companies.”
  • Find a way to grow your business without changing your business model, without alienating your core customers, without taking a big bite out of your advertising or promotional budgets . . . and you’ll find a way to win.”
  • The same way you’re never too broke to find a way around a roadblock in your business, you’re never too old to get past any digital roadblocks you might find in your path.”

A fool can learn from his own mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” – Mr. Magic. It is never easy to venture into the unknown, but if you succeed then the sacrifices were worth the risk. Daymond John sums things up quite well . . . “Being broke can actually be your greatest competitive advantage as an entrepreneur because starting a business from a place of broke – a place of desperation, hope, and hunger – forces you to think more creatively.” Now, more than any other time is the right time to take a chance, to take a risk,. “You need to bet on yourself, and you need to bet big – almost in an all-or-nothing sort of way” and make your business dream a reality. This was a book worth reading a couple of times, some really great points.

EDITORS CHOICE-PAID FORcanstockphoto6036875Let’s BOND over BOOKS  rates THE POWER OF BROKE  as  MELODICALLY MEANINGFUL (151-300 pgs) . . . Just the right mixture of content and pages.

JumpStart Your Leadership

Default CoverSOME PEOPLE WANT TO BE A LEADER, others are comfortable to be a follower, so how does a follower make the successful leap to a leader? Each day there are opportunities to step up and lead or stay in step and follow. JUMPSTART YOUR LEADERSHIP: A 90-Day Improvement Plan by John C. Maxwell can help you prepare for the leap to the next level.

WE ALL HAVE OUR OWN PERCEPTION of what a good leader “looks” like and who a leader should be. But we can easily state what and who a bad or ineffective leader looks like. “Everyone has the potential to become a better leader,” but it takes patience, commitment, work, and attitude to make it happen. Change is never easy, but the reward is well worth the work.

YOU CAN’T LEAD IF NO ONE WILL FOLLOW and you won’t be an effective leader if your followers don’t respect or trust you. The ability to lead is important in the workplace and let’s be honest, the stereotype of a leader is typically a man, not a woman. Influence is an important factor and everyone has the ability to influence somebody. “Because leadership is influence, if you can increase your influence with others, you can lead more effectively.”

JUMPSTART YOUR LEADERSHIP MAKES NO DISTINCTION about whether a man or a woman would make a better or more effective leader. However, it does provide a platform where everyone has the same opportunity and exposure for their professional development. John Maxwell calls leadership a journey and he has been passionate about sharing what he knows about leadership and has influenced quite a number of people along the way.

IN THIS HIGHLY COMPETITIVE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT preparation is the key to seizing any opportunity and to show people that you deserve the responsibility you have received. Mr. Maxwell had six questions he asked himself that are worth sharing:

THOUGHTS for your SOUL:

  1. What is a leader?”
  2. “How should I define leadership?”
  3. “Where does leadership start?”
  4. “What should I do first?”
  5. “How can I increase my influence with others?”
  6. “How can I develop a productive team?”
  7. “How can I keep getting better as a leader?”

HOW MUCH ARE YOU WILLING TO INVEST IN YOURSELF? JUMPSTART YOUR LEADERSHIP uses a 90-Day daily journal template along with inspirational quotes, brief lessons, reflective questions, spaces to write down your responses and provide clarity of thought and action. The goal of the author is for you to start where you are to develop into a better leader by preparing today for tomorrow’s opportunities.

THERE ARE NO SURPRISES with any self-help book and a common thread throughout the book is commitment and practice . . . Remember, practice does not make perfect it makes better! A good way to practice is to read the entire book (it is relatively short and can be read in two hours) then go back and read it daily for the next 90 days. Partner with a co-worker, mentor or friend and take 5 to 15 minutes a day to discuss, support, encourage, challenge one another and hold each other accountable. Good luck!!!

Let’s BOND over BOOKS rates JUMPSTART YOUR LEADERSHIP as MELODICALLY MEANINGFUL (151-300 pgs) . . . Just the right mixture of content and pages.

Spiritual Sobriety

Spiritual SobrietyAS WITH ANY OTHER ADDICTION, my overzealous religious practice came with a dark side.” Elizabeth Esther chronicles her journey as a religious addict and her road back to recovery in SPIRITUAL SOBRIETY: Stumbling Back to Faith When Good Religion Goes Bad.

RAISED IN A HIGHLY RELIGIOUS FAMILY, which she compared to a cult, Elizabeth Esther learned at an early age how to overindulge in the Spirit of the Lord. Through this behavior, she conditioned herself to have (what she described) an unhealthy attitude towards God. Later in life, as well as during the times she was in recovery Elizabeth discovered she was “Using God, a church, or a belief system” to measure her self-worth.

FOR ELIZABETH being a religious addict meant she had a hard time saying “no.” No, to the rituals, the attention, the euphoria she experienced when she praised God or did His work. No different from what any other addict would face, “There was the uncomfortable, sometimes painful letdown once the spiritual high wore off.”

MUCH OF HER RECOVERY PARALLELS other recovery programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Addicts Anonymous, as well as church-based support groups. She joined many support groups and pointed out that she could “Be more honest in nonreligious support groups because I wasn’t worried about tarnishing my good-Christian-girl reputation.”

THOUGHTS for your SOUL:

  • A process becomes an addiction when the process becomes the center of life, the most important reason for living, when a person becomes dependent upon the process for mood-altering relief.” – Robert Neil Minor
  • Imagination is a tool that helps us change things while fantasy is a distraction that prevents us from accepting the things we can’t change.”

MS. ESTHER TOOK ONE DAY AT A TIME and found a way to experience peace in her life. Her path included the importance of boundaries because “Without them, our vulnerabilities become liabilities and we are often left feeling used and discarded.”  She spoke with courage from her heart. However, SPIRITUAL SOBRIETY read like a series of journal entries or blog posts and missed the opportunity to be a landmark resource for Religious Addicts.

THOUGH IT’S NEVER EASY to expose your vulnerabilities, Ms. Esther showed hers. Words have the power to change lives and if this book helps one person, then it was worth reading. “Whatever your situation, surrender. Get help if you need it. Face your reality and become spiritually sober.”

Let’s BOND over BOOKS rates SPIRITUAL SOBRIETY as MELODICALLY MEANINGFUL (151-300 pgs) . . . Just the right mixture of content and pages.

Disclaimer: BONDing for BOOKS received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

The Art of People

ArtOfPeopleHOW WELL DO YOU UNDERSTAND PEOPLE, how well can you communicate with people, and how well can you get people to do what you want them to do?” At some point in your adult life, (whether personal or professional) one or all of these questions have crossed your mind. THE ART OF PEOPLE: 11 Simple People Skills That Will Get You Everything You Want  by Dave Kerpen gives you the road map to fine tune your people skills.

WE LIVE IN A WORLD where many people are starving for attention and connection. Bombarded daily with “man-made emergencies” and the need for “immediate answers,” it seems people have forgotten, don’t know how, or can’t communicate effectively. Today the stakes are higher and consequences of missed or lost opportunities long-lasting. We live in a self-centered society and have to find a way to stand apart from the crowd.

HAVING SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE SKILLS means that you take learning or honing these skills seriously. To get started Mr. Kerpen recommends you take the Enneagram (similar to the DiSC assessment or Myers-Briggs) provided in Appendix A of the book. The more you know about who you are, the easier it is to communicate with others. The Enneagram identifies four personality types: People-Pleaser, People-Leader, People-Guru, People-Persuader. Once identified you can work on enhancing your strengths and improving your weaknesses.

THOUGHTS for your SOUL:

  • Always accept the glass of water . . . Even if you’re not thirsty, take the drink.” – Tip 13
  • Don’t let one unkind word destroy years of praise . . . Praise is powerful, contagious, and totally inspirational.” – Tip 48
  • Make Time Your Friend . . . You can prioritize only a limited number of relationships in your life at work and at home.” – Tip 30

ELEVEN PEOPLE SKILLS and 53 simple, yet effective tips (techniques) provide the outline. Dave Kerpen weaves stories from his personal and business experiences to narrate in this clear, practical, easy-to-read book. Whether you are shy or a social butterfly there is a techniques/tip for you.

THE ART OF PEOPLE will challenge you to think beyond your circumstance; to move and act on what you have read. Implementing these tips will get you out of your comfort zone. Communication is the key that unlocks the secrets of networking. After all, “You can’t achieve happiness or success in a vacuum; it all hinges on the bonds you build with the people around you.” Any one or all of these tips could be the game-changer.

editor's choiceLet’s BOND over BOOKS  rates  THE ART OF PEOPLE  as  MELODICALLY MEANINGFUL (151-300 pgs) . . . just the right mixture of content and pages.

Disclaimer: BONDing over BOOKS received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.