Why I read it? Solving problems has always been something I enjoy. However, I often see things as obstacles that need to be conquered rather than opportunities that could improve my leaderships abilities. I hoped that this book would help me understand the art of stoicism and provide a different perspective on how to embrace challenges.
What is it all about? The book artfully weaves stories of great leaders and showcases how they were able to impact outcomes through acceptance and perseverance. From Thomas Edison to Amelia Earhart, the author succinctly describes situations that could have caused these trailblazers to retreat but instead were life-changing moments that paved their place in history.
What caused me to pause? This book is chock-full of great anecdotes. I found myself reflecting after every chapter trying to wrap my head around the combination of tenacity and patience that inspired so many great leaders. However, it wasn’t until I got to the art of not panicking that this book changed from a quick read to an inspiring operating manual. Training to be an astronaut is a grueling process, however the skill that is life threating unless mastered is emotional regulation. Panicking in space is suicide. Which is why it’s crucial for astronauts to stay calm, follow protocol and focus on the task at hand. Often freaking out seems like a reasonable reaction, but by allowing yourself to lose sight of the bigger picture you are undoubtedly missing what could be the key introspection and solution. John Glenn was able to keep his heartbeat under 100 beats a minute the first time he spent a day in space – it seems realistic to think that I could do the same during a normal day at the office.
How this books will change my habits? On top of being an engaging read, this book is a reminder that you should never pre-judge a person nor a situation. Life is going to throw curve balls at you when you least expect them. Preparing yourself to deal with those situations as stepping-stones to a greater purpose is a goal worth striving for. I hope that this book will force me to step outside of my initial reaction to a situation and allow me to use my response as fuel to become a better leader and person.
Add this to your reading list if… you’ve come to a fork in the road and are unsure how to proceed, you want to improve your ability to maintain control of your emotions under pressure, or you love history and want to understand some of the trials and triumphs that shaped many iconic pioneers.