Staff Picks

Change All Year Round

I read a decent amount of self-improvement books, especially ones that spark creativity.

But my current favorite piece of advice isn't from a book.

It's from the film Star Wars, Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back.

Yoda said,

“Try not. Do or Do not, there is no try.”

Yoda, Jedi master
New year resolutions have never worked for me.

If there’s change I feel needs to happen, I first ask, “why?”

Is it to be more active, create more, form stronger relationships, better organize my work and home spaces?

Is this just something I'm into now, or have I been coming back to this again and again?

And what’s with the urgency of it happening right now, this January, this year?

I’m a believer that if you venture to make a change, then as with the dangers of a crash diet, if you desire lasting results you have to approach it incrementally.

Step by step.

Each step is progress. (Of course, to be honest, that attitude could keep you from ever taking the bigger steps you may need. So it’s a fine line to be aware of!)

I enjoy stories and books about creative change, honing your strengths and strategies. It’s a process I'm engaged with throughout the whole year.

Here are some of my current favorites for this type of continuous reflection.

The Path cover art

The Path

by Michael Puett

For the first time an award-winning Harvard professor shares his wildly popular course on classical Chinese philosophy, showing you how these ancient ideas can guide you on the path to a good life today. Why is a course on ancient Chinese philosophers one of the most popular at Harvard? It's because the course challenges all our modern assumptions about what it takes to flourish. This is why Professor Michael Puett says to his students, "The encounter with these ideas will change your life."

Creative Quest Cover Art

Creative Quest

By Questlove

A unique new guide to creativity from Questlove--inspirations, stories, and lessons on how to live your best creative life.

Questlove--musician, bandleader, designer, producer, culinary entrepreneur, professor, and all-around cultural omnivore--shares his wisdom on the topics of inspiration and originality in a one-of-a-kind guide to living your best creative life.

Art Matters cover art

Art Matters [because your imagination can change the world]

by Neil Gaiman

Drawn from Gaiman's trove of published speeches, poems, and creative manifestos, Art Matters is an embodiment of this remarkable multi-media artist's vision--an exploration of how reading, imagining, and creating can transform the world and our lives. Art Matters bring together four of Gaiman's most beloved writings on creativity and artistry.

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Strengths Based Leadership

By Tom Rath

Two leadership consultants identify three keys to being a more effective leader: knowing your strengths and investing in others' strengths, getting people with the right strengths on your team, and understanding and meeting the four basic needs of those who look to you for leadership.

Companion to the CliftonStrengths test (which you can get at a discount as a student.)

Switch cover art

Switch : how to change things when change is hard

By Chip Heath and Dan Heath

In a compelling, story-driven narrative, the Heaths bring together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.

Finding Ultra book cover

Finding Ultra

by Rich Roll

Finding Ultra is Rich Roll's incredible-but-true account of achieving one of the most awe-inspiring midlife physical transformations ever. One cool evening in October 2006, the night before he was to turn forty, Rich experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight at the time and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he could see where his current sedentary lifestyle was taking him. Plunging into a new way of eating that made processed foods off-limits and that prioritized plant nutrition, and vowing to train daily, Rich morphed--in a matter of mere months -- from out-of-shape midlifer to endurance machine.

Oak App Icon (iOS)

Oak App

Free, on iOS only

This free app for iPhone or iPad has no ads, no subscription fees, and no strings attached. Choose different breathing exercises and meditations including loving kindness meditations, unguided meditations, and more.

If you need an Android meditation app, try Calm.


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