I started off 2019 reading three books–a memoir, a professional development book, and a personal self-improvement book. Here’s the recap.
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments.
Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.
It’s such a powerful experience as a woman of color to see yourself in someone else’s writing since we have such few examples of strong, intelligent, and fierce women in literature and on the big screen. I see quite a lot of myself in Michelle Obama. His disillusionment with law struck a cord with me as she navigated the dichotomy of passion versus skill in her professional life.
This is a novel of what it was like to grow up poor and on the south side of Chicago. It is about the power of education and what can happen when one is given a chance. This is a novel of how a close-knit family deals with illness and death. It is also about the strength of a woman who works hard to maintain a demanding professional and rewarding career while simultaneously raising two young girls as her husband begins his journey to the White House, an address this First Lady certainly did not sign up for at first. She does not shy away from talking about the difficulties of being first lady.
I also loved how intimate her memoir was as well. I really enjoyed reading about her early years, and in particular, the relationship she has with her mother. It was enlightening to read about her early relationship with Barack and the struggles they faced, just like any other married couple. I also enjoyed the very small window into the difficulties of life in the White House and the constant scrutiny and security that dominates your everyday life.
I walked away having gained an even greater appreciation, admiration and respect for Michelle Obama.
How many times have you had an idea that you were really passionate about—one that you really believed was important? How many times have you waited until you had the perfect amount of time or the perfect environment or the perfect set of circumstances to act on that idea? How many times have your ideas vanished into thin air because those “perfect” opportunities never came?
We’ve been on a two-decade quest to find better ways to take action on our ideas—and share those strategies with others. In this book, you’ll learn exactly how to harness the power of now to take action on your ideas. You’ll learn how to alleviate anxiety, face your fears, and overcome overwhelm—all so you can bring your ideas to life.
A good playbook with key takeaways on making things actually happen. I tend to have a ton of ideas in my head and not enough hours to explore, let alone bring them to life.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” – Bill GatesSurge by Kane, Garguilo, and Skoryk
Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?
Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?
Are you often busy but not productive?
Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?
If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.
The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.
By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.
Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. A must-read for any leader, manager, or individual who wants to learn who to do less, but better, in every area of their lives, Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.
While the end of the book dragged for me, parts one and two were powerful. Over the past few years, I have worked to consciously edit my life to clear the clutter both literally and figuratively. A different manifesto than Minimalism, this book is not just about less. It’s about determining what you care the most about. About what is absolutely essential, and how to eliminate everything else that isn’t. This is a good you’ll find yourself highlighting and writing in the margins.
“If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.”Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown