Seeking inspiration in something greater, particularly when you're building a company mission, is important. Leaders need to focus on something beyond the mechanics and processes of running a business -- and focus on the "why" behind it all to truly be successful.
By reading about what others have encountered in their search for inspiration, you can learn something about yourself. Best of all, purpose can result in fast growth in the year ahead.
Here are some books I recommend for finding meaning in what you do:
1. Better Off Bald: A Life in 147 Days by Andrea Wilson Woods
Turning despair into inspiration is one of the most difficult things a person can do, and Better Off Bald is a masterclass in making that happen. By telling her story of depression and liver cancer, Woods invites the reader into her world and shows why it's necessary to stay hopeful in the darkest times. After living through major upheaval in my professional life, I rebounded to something better; Woods gives others the same hope.
2. Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday's new book is about more than just your career -- it's about the way you live your entire life. Stillness Is the Key examines some of the greatest figures in history, from Confucius to Mr. Rogers. He reveals how a calm and focused mentality brought these people success, peace, and happiness. By tuning out the noise of the outside world, you can focus on the things that matter most to you. As a coach who's seen many clients fall prey to the "more, more, more" mentality, I appreciated this perspective.
3. Finding Hope: A Birthmother's Journey into the Light by Hope O Baker
Sometimes, our past decisions can haunt us far into the future, and Hope O Baker has written a powerful book on how to deal with that. Finding Hope is Baker's story of her son's adoption and her later descent into depression and addiction -- struggles she overcame with the help of others, as well as immense personal reflection. Baker's narrative isn't an easy read, but it's necessary for anyone looking to move on from the past and embrace new meaning.
4. The Seventh Level: Transform Your Business Through Meaningful Engagement with Your Customers and Employees by Amanda Slavin
One of the most rewarding aspects of business is truly connecting with others. Unfortunately, technology and busy schedules have made genuine connection more difficult than ever. Amanda Slavin offers a solution. The Seventh Level explores how we can move past sales calls and marketing collateral to connect directly with other people. After reading it, I set a goal to connect more deeply with three people every month -- going beneath the surface makes my work more meaningful, but I often forget to take the time when I'm busy.
5. The Magic of Tiny Business: You Don't Have to Go Big to Make a Great Living by Sharon Rowe
It can be easy to think that growth is the No. 1 goal in business, but Sharon Rowe shows that's not true. The Magic of Tiny Business is all about how narrowing your focus to what really matters to you enables you to turn your business into a true passion. By following in Rowe's footsteps, your professional life can be a manifestation of what matters most to you. Think about the legacy you want to leave: Do you want to help people? Do you want to bring attention to environmental causes? Do you enjoy giving your audience a voice?
6. Bling: A Story About Ditching the Struggle and Living in Flow by Andy Seth
Bling shows the power of leaving behind everything that's keeping you down and embracing what works for you. Andy Seth's book tells the story of A-Luv -- a figure inspired by the author himself -- who learns to adopt a lifestyle that leads him to happiness and success, even if it means stepping outside his comfort zone. By doing the same, you can learn to value the whole of your life, not just your business. I've learned that who I am at jiu-jitsu is just as important as who I am at home or at the office, and each facet is meaningful to me.
If you want to work to the best of your potential, you need to work on something you care about. These books offer a good starting point for finding meaning, but it's up to you to determine what that is -- your job satisfaction, and your company, depend on it.