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6 books that have shaped my practice

Top 6 Books

What is your philosophy and approach to the work that you do? What books have shaped your practice? Good questions to ask I think!

Prompted by Jo Stephenson (@JoeyStephO) I’ve spent a few hours rummaging through the bookshelves and thinking carefully about the books that have most influenced my practice, approach and philosophy to the work that I do. Those books that when I first read them created a shift that I still recognise to this day.

Very quickly it’s clear that there 6 special books all of which have helped create a shift in my practice, approach and/or philosophy. I want to share with you not a book review of each – others will have done this elsewhere – but a brief sense of why each is personally significant to me and my work. The list is in chronological order of when I first came across each book. Interestingly they span approximately the last 15 years. I’m wondering what came before that I’ve forgotten…

“Tuesdays with Morrie”

This book came at a time when I didn’t know that I needed to think about my life & career. I didn’t know that I needed sources of wisdom & inspiration. I didn’t know that I needed to feel more confident about being the human that I am. It was given to me precisely to make me think about such things. I’ll be forever grateful that it was.

“Changing for Good”

Of all the change literature I have on the shelf or have read over the years, I still have a soft spot for this one. There’s both a simplicity and a humanity to both the title and the writing that has always appealed to me. The intent and the personal stories still go deeper than a good many corporate change books do. My affinity with “Changing for Good” is in many ways a reflection of how I always like to work.

“Time to Think”

If there’s a book you’ll never read, don’t make it this one. We can (& must) create the environments for ourselves and others to think well. That it comes through the power of our attention and listening is the revelation we always knew but ignored. I draw on it’s inspiration constantly in my coaching and facilitation.

“A General Theory of Love”

It’s a teaser of a title but at the time it was a surprise introduction to thinking about how the brain works. This single book ignited my interest in neuroscience and how we can think about the brain. It also gave me hope that there will always be facets of humanity that we can marvel at, not tame, such as the human soul.

A very short, fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about Coaching and Mentoring

A quirky title and fake tea stained cover hides what is really a great synopsis of the history, influences and current state of coaching and mentoring. Reading this gave me renewed confidence to keep challenging the system, dominant narratives and “blind” practices that I see. It also helped me choose when not to have those conversations.

Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together

The latest and last in the list of books was introduced to me by my friend Julie Drybrough (@fuchsia_blue). This came at a time when I was seeking better ways to look at and think about the conversations that we have in organisations. In hindsight, it’s a great companion to “Time to Think” and a gives a more meaningful and fundamental perspective than many a coaching book. I think that title holds something we can all aspire to.


So how would I digest these into a description of my practice, approach and philosophy? I wouldn’t. That would be both too limiting and too trite. However, in sharing what are personally 6 very significant and meaningful books I hope that you might now have a quite good sense. If not, buy me a coffee and I’ll share some more!



  1. Pingback: My 6 Books | Ariadne Associates - October 15, 2014


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