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Book of the Month

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self To Your Biggest Challenges

September 2016

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self To Your Biggest Challenges

Amy Cuddy

What is it about, and how is it helpful?

If you’ve seen Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk, this book is probably on your reading list already. (If you haven’t, take 20 minutes right now and enjoy a great presentation.) The core idea of the talk is not hard to learn or to implement: standing in a “power pose,” for even a couple of minutes, can make you feel more powerful and act more confident. We tend to assume certain postures when we feel strong and authoritative; normally the feeling creates the action, but before a job interview or an important presentation, you can use the action to create the feeling. Charming and affable, even while rich in research and anecdotes, Presence talks about the science of this mind-body connection and ways to apply it for personal and professional success.

How does it relate to Winning from Within®?

“Presence, as I mean it throughout these pages,” writes Cuddy, “is the state of feeling connected with our own thoughts, values, abilities and emotions.” Presence begins as a book about developing your inner Warrior, with the power and confidence to stand your ground. Cuddy writes that “In pressure-filled situations, when we are distracted by thinking about possible outcomes of our performance, our skills are measurably diminished.” Your Warrior responds by leaning into the pressure and focusing on the present, instead of allowing that distraction to weaken you. But Cuddy moves on from focusing on Warrior only to embrace the listening empathy of Lover, and eventually the honesty, sincerity, and authenticity of Captain, where true presence is possible.

More than “Fake it ‘til you make it,” Cuddy’s guidance to “Fake it ‘til you become it” is a tool for expanding your self-expression and directing your self-transformation. How much more powerful could you feel? Read along with us, and develop your presence!

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Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization

January 2009

Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization

Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey

How does it relate to Winning from Within?
Immunity to Change is a book that helps us make lasting change and transform ourselves. It is a great read for working on our Voyager. Similar to Winning from Within, this book takes a deep look at the inner dynamics of any leadership and change efforts and disentangles the different forces at play that prevent us from lasting change.

What is it about and how is it helpful?
According to Harvard professors Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey change efforts on an individual or a collective level fail so often because we have a psychological immune system within us that rejects change like our body’s immune system rejects a virus. At the core of this psychological immune system lies a belief that prevents us from engaging in the new behavior for long. Lasting change according to them can only be achieved by detecting the (often inadequate) belief and replacing it with a new belief that serves our change goal better.

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Leading from the Emerging Future: from Ego-System to Eco-System Economies

April 2013

Leading from the Emerging Future: from Ego-System to Eco-System Economies

Otto Scharmer & Katrin Käufer

How does it relate to Winning from Within?

The internal battle between our ‘self’ and our ‘Self’ is precisely what the ‘Performance Gap’ is about, which I describe in Winning from Within: the continuous negotiation and internal struggle between our status quo, the part of ourselves that is run by stories, by past experiences and by worry about the future, vs. the Self that our Voyager knows is possible, our highest future potential that we can all grow into, our ‘essential self’. Do you ever experience this inner negotiation, torn between the old and familiar, and the new, uncertain but promising? I bet you do.

The authors go the necessary mile further and apply holistic and systems thinking to the many challenges that manifest on a systemic and societal level: a 1.5 planet footprint, overuse of scarce resources, rising inequality, rising speculation, a quick technological fix syndrom, consumerism, depression, burnout, and collectively creating results that nobody wants. They show how all of these symptoms have common underlying causes and systemic limits, often deriving from our paradigms and worldviews.

We recognize many of the perspectives of the Big Four in the book: the Dreamer paints a picture of the society and economy we know is possible and needed, the Thinker provides a sound analytical understanding of interconnected systems, the Lover ensures that the leadership for this ‘eco-system economy’ is inclusive and cares for the whole, and the Warrior provides concrete steps for how to start leading and organising from the emerging future, by co-creating and prototyping new initiatives.

What is it about and how is it helpful?

In this new book by Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer, the authors apply the ‘U process[*] – a phenomenon and method for profound change and co-creation – to the global and interconnected crises that our society faces. It combines insights and observations about the inner and outer systemic shifts that are needed to tackle our most daunting challenges. The authors describe these as ‘three systemic disconnects’: a disconnect  between humans, and our planet and nature – an eco-system divide, – a disconnect between humans with humans – a social divide – and a disconnect between our ‘self’ and our ‘Self’, between our status quo selves and our highest future potential – a spiritual divide.

The book is a plea for ‘leading from the future’ as opposed to repeating patterns of the past, a key leadership capacity that the authors argue is needed in this time of disruption and dramatic changes in our environment.  Being able to respond quickly and ‘tune into’ future possibilities, or as the authors call it, ‘presencing’, has become a core leadership capacity.

The book is a little masterpiece in combining deep philosophical insights with practical systems-thinking tools and suggestions for organising and leading towards an ‘eco-system economy’.

[*]As described in the book ‘Theory U’ by Otto Scharmer, ‘Presencing’ by Otto Scharmer, Peter Senge, Joseph Jaworski and Berry Sue Flowers, and ‘Source’ by Joseph Jaworski

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Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

March 2014

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

Sheila Heen & Doug Stone

How does this book relate to Winning from Within?


In Winning from Within, the inner Voyager drives our personal growth and sets the path for the personal learning journey of our lifetime. Yet, without the ability to turn the feedback we receive into learning that drives new and more effective behaviors, we may know the path of learning but we will never be able to walk it.

Many of the tools introduced by Stone and Heen engage the inner Lookout and Captain as well.  For instance, the skill of centering ourselves to find the actionable data in a badly-conveyed piece of feedback requires us to first track our inner reactivity to the feedback (what Stone and Heen call “the fight or flight response”), which requires a finely-tuned Lookout, and then to select which of the Big Four to bring forward as we choose the appropriate reaction to the feedback, a skill that requires a centered Captain.

What’s it about in general?

Many books have been written on how to give feedback.  In Thanks for the Feedback, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen offer deeply useful advice on the neglected topic of how to receive feedback – and to do so in ways that maximize our learning and growth.  Their work flows out of research at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and, by drawing on results from neuroscience and psychology, they offer the background science of what often blocks us from receiving feedback skillfully.  But receiving feedback is also an art, they say, and so they offer several useful tools for being an artful feedback receiver, both at home and at work.

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Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

February 2014

Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Tara Brach

What is it about and how is it helpful?
Radical Acceptance is a beautiful book about getting out of your own way. I read it for the first time nearly a decade ago, and I still think of it often. Indeed, of all the books I recommend to clients, Radical Acceptance is the one I suggest most.

In this book, clinical psychologist and Buddhist teacher Tara Brach addresses head-on a topic that is both crucial and delicate in the journey of self-discovery: what she calls “the trance of unworthiness.” So many of us are quick to tear ourselves down, to focus on our flaws or mistakes, to beat ourselves up. We compare ourselves to other people, or to our own fantasy of perfection. According to Brach, we live in a society where many of us are burdened by a feeling of “not being good enough” or even “essentially flawed.”

Blending Western psychology, mindfulness teachings and stories from her own personal journey, Tara invites us to meet ourselves not with shame but with compassion.

How does it relate to Winning from Within?
Radical Acceptance helps to unpack all three of the Transformers from Winning From Within. The explanations and instructions about mindfulness strengthen a core capacity of your inner Lookout. The stance of compassion, clarity, and a courageous look at the fullness of reality support a core capacity of your inner Captain. The recognition that all of life is a journey, with its peaks and valleys of experience that hold potential for your development and learning, affirms a core capacity of your inner Voyager. In the end, both books offer a map to explore your inner life, and both seek to bless your experience with compassion and self-acceptance.

King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine

January 2014

King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine

Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette

How does it relate to Winning from Within?
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover provides a close look into psychological archetypes and ways to access and work with them. Winning From Within also looks closely at a set of archetypes, which I call The Big Four. The four in the title of this book do not match precisely to the Big Four that I explain in my book. Nonetheless, Moore and Gillette’s book was pioneering in bringing archetypes into the popular culture. It provides a lot of background context for anyone interested to learn more about this domain.

What is it about in general?
“Deep within every man are blueprints, what we can also call ‘hard wiring’” write Robert Moore, professor of psychology and Douglas Gillette, pastoral counselor. In their now classic book, they describe four archetypes (the king, the warrior, the magician and the lover) and how they shape our thinking, feeling and our reactions. Based on the work of  C.G. Jung, a pioneering psychoanalyst of the twentieth century, they explain how these archetypes are present in all of us, and how they’ve been communicated to us over centuries as part of our human culture. According to the writers, each archetype has its positive and negative (a shadow) aspect. And each of these archetypes needs to be heard from and integrated. Moore and Gillette focus specifically on how working with these four archetypes can help men to develop a healthy relationship with their own masculinity. They provide a description of four techniques in their book of how men can integrate those archetypes and develop their full human potential.

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Eat, Move, Sleep

December 2013

Eat, Move, Sleep

Tom Rath

How does it relate to Winning From Within?
One of the central themes of Winning From Within is the aim of leading and living when you’re centered.  Center is a place between extremes: between manic highs or depressive lows; between grandiosity and low self-esteem; between over-consumption and depriving yourself, and so on. Philosophers, writers, psychologists and more have reflected on the benefits of a “middle way” between extremes as a healthy and integrated stance for living well. This book offers information and inspiration to achieve a position of centeredness, through caring for your body and well-being in a daily way. I am following the clear and wonderful advice in this book. It’s making my life healthier as well as keeping me more connected to my own center. As a side benefit, I’ve lost 10 pounds since I started following it.

What is it about in general?
Eat, Move, Sleep is a guidebook for taking care of yourself. Each chapter gives research findings to explain the impact of eating a healthy diet, getting a good night’s sleep, and making sure to move your body throughout the day. It has lots of memorable lessons, like “sugar is the new nicotine.” The book shows you how to improve the ways you treat your body. As a result you can improve your mood along with your health as you practice making good choices every day.

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Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

November 2013

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, Bruce Patton

How does it relate to Winning from Within?
Winning from Within stands in the lineage of Getting to Yes as well as Difficult Conversations. Getting to Yes provides foundational concepts and strategies for effective negotiations.

What is it about and how is it helpful?
In this seminal book on negotiation Harvard lecturers Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton provide a step-by step strategy for getting to mutually acceptable agreements. Based on decades of experience with negotiating political and corporate conflicts and the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project the authors provide a clear method: Separating the people from the problem, focusing on interests instead of positions, inventing options for mutual gain and insisting on objective criteria. In addition the authors provide strategies for situations in which the negotiation partner carries a lot more power, refuses to negotiate or uses dirty tricks.

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Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

October 2013

Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

Daniel Goleman

How does this book relate to Winning from Within?
The role of the Lookout (Chapter 9 in Winning from Within) is to monitor what’s happening with your Big Four and to track whether you’re connected to your center of well-being.  Doing this well requires a well-developed ability to do what Daniel Goleman’s new book Focus calls “inner focus.”

Goleman offers scientific evidence of this skill, case studies of high performers who use it, and “Smart Practices” for how we can cultivate it ourselves.  I especially loved the practices that Goleman recommends for enhancing our attention because it suggested a number of ways I can improve my own Lookout’s ability to track my inner states and to know when I may be slipping off center.

What’s it about in general?
In Focus, thought leader Daniel Goleman, author of the international best-selling book Emotional Intelligence, uses cutting-edge research to understand the importance of attention to succeeding in a world of constant distraction.  Goleman distinguishes three types of mental focus necessary for high performance: inner focus, other focus, and outer focus.  He shares several practices to help readers improve their ability to focus, including: meditation; routines for preparation and recovery; and cultivating positive emotions.

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Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation

September 2013

Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation

Daniel J. Siegel

How does this book relate to Winning from Within?
Mindsight is a wonderful book to deepen your understanding of your inner Lookout (Chapter 9 in Winning From Within). I loved it because I learned how the Lookout functions in our brains, and because the book uses clear and simple language we can all understand. Mindsight provides scientific evidence for the importance of developing a strong Lookout, and offers you techniques for how to do it.

What’s it about in general?
Author Daniel Siegel, UCLA professor of psychiatry, says there are two kinds of lenses we use to see the world: a lens we use to see the outer world and a lens we use to see the inner world. This inner world lens is what he calls Mindsight.

A core message of the book is that the ability to step back from our emotions and thoughts, even while experiencing them, gives us a new relationship to them. Mindsight allows us to not be swept away by our emotions but to observe them, which turns off the “autopilot” of our habitual reactions. The combination of psychology and brain science in the book empowers us to understand ourselves more deeply, and opens up a wider range of choices for us in daily life.

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