The next three books are all very good. The War of Art is just amazing. Go get it now to learn how to fight back against the internal and external resistance stopping you from doing big things. My Vanishing Country, written by my friend Bakari Sellers, is his memoir on escaping the economic and racial disparities of the rural South to become a SC State Representative. Leaders Eat Last is about overcoming selfishness to put the need of the group first. I recommend all three of these.
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
For a few years now I’ve had two concepts for books I want to write.
I don’t have time.
No one will read them.
I should be concentrating on other things.
Pressfield calls all that resistance. It can come from external pressures. Much of it comes from internal pressures. Resistance stops the creative mind from taking on these big projects or once their taken on, even tackling the day to day work.
While the book was written for creatives it’s been widely accepted by leaders within business, athletic and many other industries. What’s stopping you from starting that business, tackling that marathon or growing your family? It’s all resistance. And it can be overcome. Pressfield does a beautiful job explaining how.
This is a short book that I recommend to every single human looking to do more with their life. It could very well be life changing for you. Read this one today.
My Vanishing Country, Bakari Sellers
Growing up I used to love going to see my cousin Courtney. She was just a couple years older than me and my sister. She was my favorite person in the whole world. Her brother, Chuck, was a good bit older than me so I wasn’t as close to him. He was off doing teenage things while Courtney, my sister Jennifer, and I were busy being foolish children. Their mother, my Aunt Linda, was always the rock of my father’s side of the family. I remember thinking she was rich. She wasn’t. At all. It’s just that she was the only person who had a job and a car that actually ran. She lived in a real house that didn’t have wheels. She was one of the only stable people in my life. The only one who wasn’t full of drama. She just had her shit together. Her husband, Bubba, I remember being a strange man. Mostly because he had this man cave behind the house and he never left it. I would be at their house for days and only see him when it was time for dinner. I often think of that man cave and wish I had one.
Aunt Linda, Uncle Bubba, Courtney and Chuck lived in Hampton, SC. I went there this week to see Aunt Linda. Unfortunately it was for Chuck’s funeral. I hadn’t been there for seven months. That trip was for Uncle Bubba’s funeral. Courtney died fifteen years ago, something I still think about nearly every day. That one was as tough on me as losing my parents. The other two times I was there in recent years was for the death of my grandmother, Mimi, and my father. I just saw my father’s final resting place for the first time this week. Now Mimi, Dad, Uncle Bubba, Courtney and Chuck are all lying together side by side. Everyone is vanishing.
Now it’s just my Aunt Linda. So much loss for one person to endure. And it’s that turmoil that summarizes my feelings about Hampton, Varnville, Ridgeland and the surrounding areas of rural South Carolina. These once burgeoning towns of commerce have become economic wastelands full of poverty and needing attention from those of us who forget they exist. Just so much despair. While I look at rural South Carolina with fond memories of playing with Courtney, competing in Hampton’s Watermelon Festival watermelon eating contest and all the love given to me by my Aunt Linda, I also see it the way Bakari Seller’s sees it… vanishing.
I picked up this book because Bakari Sellers is my friend and I wanted to support him. I’m very fond of Bakari, more than just about any other person I’ve met in politics, because he cares so damn much. He’s a black Democrat. I’m a white Republican. We often don’t agree on the solutions but we both agree on the most fundamental problems plaguing our state. We talk about the same things. While his views are through the eyes of a black man raised in rural South Carolina, mine are through the eyes of pure white trash who grew up in a single wide trailer with holes in the floor, then Section 8 housing, spending my summers in rural South Carolina and then moved slightly up in the world when I moved to Goose Creek. While I don’t know what it’s like being a black man, I do know what it’s like being in poverty. And I know with 100% certainty that the issues Bakari describes in this book are true. If I didn’t experience them, I witnessed them with my own eyes.
This book is a memoir. It’s Bakari’s story of being raised by a civil right’s activist in rural South Carolina, not far from Hampton. He eventually became the youngest SC House representative and then he ran unsuccessfully for Lt Governor against now Governor Henry McMaster. He’s now a successful attorney, CNN analyst, husband and father.
It’s a weird coincidence that I finished this book the day I drove through Hampton to Chuck’s funeral. Every page described what I saw driving in the funeral procession. There are no jobs. The schools are falling apart. The health care systems sucks. Access to quality food sucks. The infrastructure is falling apart. The people seem forgotten, especially the black ones. But like my Aunt Linda, all that turmoil has made rural South Carolinians strong. Too strong to beg for help, but needing that help still… before they and their country truly vanishes.
PS – I don’t ask for prayers often, but if you would, please pray this week for my Aunt Linda, Chuck’s wife Sheila and his children, Chase and Malorie.
Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek
So much in our world is going wrong because supposed “leaders” have become so selfish instead of looking out for the group as a whole. Politicians care more about being elected than the true needs of their constituents. CEOs take huge bonuses while laying off staff. Television news stations are driven by profits and viewership rather than for the reason they were created.
That’s what this book is about – where leadership went wrong. Sinek’s message is that true leaders prioritize the needs of the group over their own. He begins by talking about the evolution of man and how the need for hierarchy and leadership is rooted in our DNA. Leadership began as a safety mechanism. Humans grouped together out of a need to protect themselves from both animals and other humans. Eventually leaders emerged whose entire job was to protect the group.
That’s a far cry from where we are today. We’ve become comfortable. We don’t need to look out for others so that they l look for us. Thus the need for safety has taken a back seat to a desire for better, faster and more. We want everything now and we wan’t more of it – especially money. We’ve become inherently selfish creatures while dehumanizing others. So there’s no wonder that the CEO cashes out for life while firing those who can barely afford to live as is.
Sinek concludes by explaining how true leaders should act and how we can return to a day where the leader looked out for the group, citing examples like James Sinegal, the CEO of Costco, who gave raises during the economic downtown because employees needed more money, not less.
Leaders eat last because they need to ensure that everyone else in the group has been fed. I love it! This nation would be in an entirely different place if we took Sinek’s advice. This is a book that should be read by anyone who leads a group of people.