Wisdom Digest #1 February 2021

After one month and sixteen book reflections, my head is swarming with anecdotes, studies, and feelings that I’ve experienced from a range of inspirational writers. It is worth noting that, of the sixteen books, only three were new to me this month, while the others were previous favourites with historical phone notes that illuminated my way back to the windows of the authors’ worlds.

I use the word swarming, because taking on so many ideas at once can be counterproductive. I suppose that’s the danger of initially working through a backlog of books! Yet, swarming is infinitely better than vacancy, which is the reason I began this blog project. They say that people remember not what you said, but how you made them feel. I can appreciate that; I can tell you exactly how Barack Obama made me feel during his victory speech in Grant Park, Chicago in 2008, yet many of his words escape me (‘yes, we can’). But feelings aren’t enough. I cannot hone a better version of my personal or professional self on emotive response alone.

And so, I write. I’ve started writing to remember, writing to process, and writing to organise. Already, I look back at these sixteen posts and make sense of future speeches, training sessions, or conversations that may draw upon the words and ideals of these authors.

And, now to the books themselves, which I’d like to round up as a group. Firstly, I wasn’t surprised to see some of my most used words throughout the posts:

The content that we engage with is, I suppose, an extension of who we are, what we value, and what we are trying to learn or become. I haven’t gone out of my way to read certain books, and my criteria is broadly: what can I learn? Will it entertain me? Do I find the writer authentic and credible? Does it feed my values? Does it challenge me and encourage me to look beyond my knowledge base / experiences?

But there is pattern in that word cloud that certainly wasn’t in my mind when I selected the books to read: culture, development and wellbeing.

And, beyond those values, in the first month of the blog running, we have toured America with Matthew McConaughey, the world with Jacqueline Novogratz, and schools with several authors.

Here are a few things I’ve picked up in round one of Pocket Wisdom:

1. Connection

We would likely agree that our best personal and professional moments have occurred while we were part of a team or group with whom we experienced connection: feelings of trust, belief, and mutual respect, humour. Coyle, McConaughey, Novogratz, Konnikova, and Kerr all write beautifully about how our relationships can be utilised to achieve remarkable feats. In schools, Uttley, Tomsett, Atwal, Bethune, Kell and Strickland have guided my thinking on how to nurture relationships with colleagues.

2.  Mind

Dr Eger, Duhigg, Jordan and McRaven dedicate a lot of their books to how we can frame our own thinking to be the best versions of ourselves. They aren’t naive, blue-sky thinkers, but elite professionals drawing upon their experiences and numerous studies about how our minds, not our resources, are the keys to thriving.

3.  Learning

In my mind, we are at our best, professionally, when we are learning, being encouraged to learn, and given choice over what we learn. Whether it is understanding more about the learning process from Kate Jones, to exploring how we can help staff develop and learn on the job from the other education authors, learning is the most powerful tool we have to empower ourselves and our colleagues.

And, as for my recommendations:

Thank you for joining me so far, whether you’ve read one book reflection or all sixteen. I’ve learnt a lot about things I wanted to know, validated some things I thought I already knew, and realised how little I know about… pretty much everything. That’s an exciting feeling.

So, here’s to the next round of books, and all the others out there yet to be discovered.

Oh, and in the spirit of words and feelings in unison, here’s a transcript of one of the best speeches you’ll read or listen to 


List of books and posts so far:

The Culture Code, by Daniel Coyle

I Can’t Accept Not Trying, by Michael Jordan

Manifesto for a Moral Revolution, by Jacqueline Novogratz

Greenlights, by Matthew McConaughey

Make Your Bed, by Admiral William McRaven

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

The Human Workplace, by Andy Swann

Retrieval Practice, by Kate Jones

Tribes, by Seth Godin

Putting Staff First, by Johnny Uttley and John Tomsett

The Thinking School, by Dr Kulvarn Atwal

Education Exposed, by Samuel Strickland

Legacy, by James Kerr

The Biggest Bluff, by Maria Konnikova

The Gift, by Dr Edith Eger

Teacher Wellbeing and Self-Care, by Adrian Bethune and Dr Emma Kell

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