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At the 2011 Acacia Leadership Academy, I spoke on the subject of Cornerstones 2.0.  In another post, I explain Cornerstones 2.0.

At the request of several of the ALA participants, I am publishing a list of a few of the books that I have read over the past few years, in my own search for knowledge, wisdom & understanding. I’ve listed what I consider the “Top 7”.  I’ll continue to add to this list as time goes on & I read more.

Now, I should mention that I am one of those individuals who enjoys reading text.  If reading is not your thing, most (if not all) of these are available on audiobook, so you could listen to them while you work out, walk to class, etc.

Without further ado, here is the list of books, ranked according to what I consider to be their relevance to Cornerstones:

1) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic by Stephen Covey & The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness by Stephen Covey.  The first book is probably the most influential & widely-read personal development book of the past half-century (at least).  Both books are mentioned here because they flow together.  Many of the exercises or ideas used in Cornerstones 2.0 were discovered in one or both of these books.

2) The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield.  Compiled & written by one of the biggest success stories in the current age, this book is packed full of nuggets of wisdom that have the potential to help anyone along their path to realizing their dreams.  Canfield is also one of the most widely-respected personalities in the field of personal development, having co-authored the hugely successful Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

3) The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz.  This book turns the whole idea of “time management” on its head and suggests that the most important aspect of your life to manage is your level of personal energy, while successfully oscillating back & forth between energy expenditure & energy renewal.  The authors use much research from the world of top athletes & top industry leaders who achieve peak performance to provide a template & gameplan for how we can all structure our days to achieve heightened levels of joy & performance.  The Corporate Athlete Training Program & Personal Development Plan template specified in this book are being used by Acacia Fraternity for the purposes of Cornerstones, with permission of the Human Performance Institute.  Check out this video for an explanation of their view of “Energy vs. Time”.

4) How to Get an “A” in Life: The Seven Pillars of Achievement by John Dudeck & Diane Dudeck.  John Dudeck is an Acacia Brother from the Indiana Chapter, who recently presented at the 2011 Acacia Leadership Academy.  John & his wife, Diane, have created a clear framework in The Seven Pillars of Achievement that is an ideal system for making decisions in our life based on Wisdom.  The Seven Pillars (Faith, Integrity, Attitude, Discipline, Relationships, Growth, & Balance) are a relevant framework that our members can use as their “moral compass” while making some of life’s most important decisions.

5) Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath & Barry Conchie.  This book is one of the latest in a series of books that originates from research completed by the Gallup Organization over the past 50 years, and it includes a powerful StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment that, when completed, will summarize your Top 5 Strengths, as well as provide ideas about how best to put your strengths to work.  There are a number of books in this Strengths-Based series, and all of them could be relevant to you, however this one onStrengths-Based Leadership is particularly relevant to Cornerstones & Acacia Fraternity.

6) Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (not Acacia’s Dave Allen), here’s a link to his company’s website. His website does a great job of describing GTD (Getting Things Done).  His model for workflow mastery has redefined how I live my life, how I process information, how I plan to complete projects.  A lot of what he recommends is very logical & will make perfect sense to you – almost as if you already know this information.  I highly recommend this book & the process described within to any member of Acacia, and especially to new executive officers who might feel overwhelmed by all of the various responsibilities associated with your role.

7) The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination & Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by Neil Fiore, Ph.D.  A further description can be found here. This book has had a huge impact on how I “talk to myself” in order to motivate myself to take action on the following: things that a part of me may not want to do (i.e. “exercise daily”), & large projects with distant, looming deadlines (i.e. “implement Cornerstones”).  The ideas contained in this book were, and continue to be, nothing short of revolutionary for my ability to focus on the most important things in my life, avoid procrastination, and feel a sense of progress on large projects.

How to Apply Any of These Books within the context of Cornerstones: 

Step 1: Set a goal related to reading books on the subject of personal development.  For example, my goal is to read at least 1 hour per day on the subject of personal development.

Step 2: Read the book.

Step 3: Take notes & do the exercises that the authors recommend. Keep a file folder on your computer (or a notebook/binder) with word processing documents in which you take notes or do the exercises.

Step 4: Get Better at Stuff.  You will undoubtedly improve & develop based on the extend to which you engage with this kind of material. Sometimes progress will be immediately obvious, sometimes it will be more “slow & steady” – but just the fact that you are continually working on “getting better” will lead you to improvements that you can’t imagine at this point.

Step 5: Repeat.