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Dr. Todd B. Kashdan’s 5 Essential Books for Becoming a Leader with Exceptional Emotional Agility

Dr. Todd B. Kashdan’s 5 Essential Books for Becoming a Leader with Exceptional Emotional Agility

Dr. Todd Kashdan is the author of a terrific book released last autumn, The Upside of Your Dark Side. Co-authored with Robert Biswas-Diener, the book outlines how positive emotions alone are not enough. Anger makes us creative, selfishness makes us brave, and guilt is a powerful motivator. The real key to success lies in emotional agility. Dr. Kashdan has kindly agreed to be my guest blogger and book reviewer today, and is offering up his 5 books for becoming a leader with exceptional emotional ability.

Book 1. The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

by Ryan Holiday
I am unsure when philosophy became a tedious, pretentious field divorced from reality. Philosophy was originally designed to be a disciplined practice for thinking through the best possible solutions for everyday problems. This book is a return to these roots with stoic philosophers and their philosophies mentoring the reader on how to best manage seemingly disadvantageous situations and how to exploit rewarding situations. Perhaps this is desirable to you:

Start thinking like a radical pragmatist: still ambitious, aggressive, and rooted in ideals, but also imminently practical and guided by the possible. Not on everything you would like to have, not on changing the world right at this moment, but ambitious enough to get everything you need. Don’t think small, but make the distinction between the critical and the extra. Think progress, not perfection.
If so, enjoy the ancient lessons of Seneca, Epicetus, and Marcus Aurelius packaged for the challenges of the modern world.

Book 2. Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd

by Youngme Moon
Everyone tries to be different like all of the other different people. Get a tattoo, ride a Harley Davidson, wear tattered t-shirts or jeans. This brief treatise introduces you to the road to medicrocity that nearly every business, author, scientist, public speaker, and consultant tends to travel on. Why? Because it pays just enough to afford 1.38 kids and 2.7 weeks of vacation. Profound contributions to humanity are lost because people fear straying from the herd. In the authors’ own words, “stop emulating and start innovating.” This is not a book for sycophants who can’t handle criticism and want to feel comfortable. This is a book for  people that want to start taking real risks and do something special with the only life they have.

Book 3. Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior

by Geoffrey Miller
Don’t let the title fool you. This book is about much more than consumer behavior. This is a book about how evolutionary desires for sex and status influence our behavior – whether it is what we do for a living, what we purchase with our money, and what aspirations are held for our lives. Why do you have to read this book? Because it is provocative. Sexuality partially accounts for why human beings showcase their religious affiliation or demonstrate their creative talents. And then there is this thesis to the book:

Marketing is the most important invention of the past two millennia because it is the only revolution that has ever succeeded in bringing real economic power to the people. It is not just the power to redistribute wealth, to split the social cake into different pieces. Rather, it is the power to transform the natural world into a playground for human passions.

You will not agree with everything in here. But you will be forced to contemplate and alter some deeply held assumptions.

Book 4. In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed

by Carl Honoré
In an era where human beings feel as if they deserve a badge for sleeping fewer hours and working on weekends, the lessons in this book must be heeded. Choose quality over quantity. By slowing down, we can enjoy life and more efficient and effective in our work. Once again, you will not agree with everything in here. But a good book, changes you. If you read at least half of this book, you will add at least one other gear to your mental apparatus.

Book 5. The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

by Matt Ridley.
There are writers who know how to make statistics sexy and interesting. Matt Ridley happens to be one of the best. A perfect complement to all of those fluffy self-help and positive psychology books on your bookshelf. A formidable challenge to pessimistic views of our society (morality is on the decline, prosperity is on the decline, and life was clearly better when we lived in houses made of Lincoln Logs).

Todd-KashdanMeet Todd Kashdan

Todd B. Kashdan, Ph.D. is a scientist, public speaker, and a professor of psychology at George Mason University. He is director of the Laboratory for the Study of Social Anxiety, Character Strengths, and Related Phenomena at George Mason University. His books Curious? and The Upside of Your Dark Side offer the profound new message that the greatest opportunities for joy and personal growth do not happen when searching for happiness, certainty, or safety.



Twitter: @ToddKashdan

One Response to Dr. Todd B. Kashdan’s 5 Essential Books for Becoming a Leader with Exceptional Emotional Agility

  • Sandip Roy

    I plan to read Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is The Way. It will open up a new window to my reading scope. By the way, since your last recommendation, I finished 7 books in 2 months. You won’t believe how much weight your words carry even 14,000 km away!

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