Three (3) Productivity Books for Advancing Big Ideas

 Begin. Finish. Go Deep.

You have ideas and visions for your business, leadership, or organization. Yet you likely get distracted and are met with challenge upon challenge to actually bringing those dreams to fruition. 

I have tools and frameworks that let you advance and leverage them into books, brands, and businesses.
Three such tools are three books I review here. Each book can help you advance your bold ideas, your dream endeavors, the projects that really matter to you most.
These three books I found extremely helpful and complementary to how we partner with clients at Tracking Wonder.

The first book is by my friend and colleague, Michael Bungay Stanier titled How to Begin: Start Doing Something That Matters (Page Two), published by Page Two. Michael lays out three parts. One is define a worthy goal, two is commit, three is cross the threshold. In typical Michael style, he lays things out simply and elegantly. 

A worthy goal, in fact, he defines as having three parts. It’s thrilling, it’s important, and it’s daunting. 
One thing that I like about Michael’s work also, which is also true of his publisher, Page Two, is that he is visually oriented so he walks you through this book almost like a roadmap, and in each chapter you follow where you’re at in this three-part book.

Let’s say you’ve set your worthy goal, you’ve started to commit, you want cross the threshold. 

The next book that helps you keep going in an organized, systematic approach is published by my friend and colleague Charlie Gilkey. It’s titled Start Finishing: How to Go From Idea to Done (Sounds True). This book’s published by Sounds True, which is also my publish publisher for Tracking Wonder
Charlie has a background as a tactical officer in the Army in Iraq, and he also has a background in studying philosophy, kind of practical philosophy and moving people forward, ideas that move people forward. H brings part of that background to this book as well.
One of my favorite quotes from Charlie is this: 
“Our innate talent, creativity, and drive combined with discipline are what make us forces of nature.” 
This is complementary to what we would call your genius and your genius force of character moving you forward.
Something I like about Charlie’s work and about Sounds True’s book design are the visuals throughout that keep you moving forward from idea to done.

Let’s say you’re still needing some perspective on how to sustain your attention on what we would call your deep work. “Deep work” was coined and really owned in part by Cal. Now Cal is a professor of computer science at Georgetown University, sort of has the fame of never having a social media account and yet has been extremely influential as a thought leader. Every book he’s published, I’ve benefited from. 

This book comes from Grand Central Publishing, one of the big five publishers out of New York. The subtitle is telling, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (Grand Central). Now, Cal defines deep work as, “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” This is very complementary to the work we do in helping clients deepen your focus and flow at work.
Cal is both reflective, thoughtful, but also very pragmatic in moving people forward. He has children he wants to be committed to at home, he has students he wants to be committed to at the university, and he has a growing audience as well he wants to be committed to as a thought leader, so he knows how to put some things into practice.

One of my favorite sections is in the chapter on working deeply where he reviews different disciplines. 

The first discipline is focus on the wildly important, and this is very complimentary to Michael’s worthy goals and some of the frameworks in Charlie’s book Start Finishing, which is really to focus on what is most important, but this has a slight twist on the wildly important. 

He quotes New York Times columnist David Brooks: 
“If you want to win the war for attention, don’t try to say no to the trivial distractions you find on the information smorgasbord. Try to say yes to the subject that arouses a terrifying longing and let the terrifying longing crowd out everything else.” 

To review, you might start with Michael Bungay Stanier’s book, How to Begin with Page Two. Page Two is a fantastic hybrid publisher. Many of my clients have met with success with hybrid publishers. With Page Two, I know many people who’ve published with them. They’re a really great outfit and great team. 
Then you might move to Start Finishing published by an independent press, Sounds True, works with wonderful leaders and thought leaders and teachers in a variety of disciplines, all aimed to awaken people. Many of my clients meet with great success with independent publishers as well. 
And finally, you might cap it off with Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work with Grand Central Publishing, one of the big five out of New York. Several of my clients also have met with success with the big five, so you have a variety of reading options and publishing options.
If this review has been valuable to you, do me two favors. One, be sure to share this with somebody you care about who might benefit from one or more of these books as well. And be sure you sign up for my Dispatch, where I provide you evidence-based tips to stay buoyant, flexible, and focused on the bold ideas that matter. 
Be well, and thanks for running with me,
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