The (Very) Best Books I Read in 2014‏

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Nerd alert: I love to read.

I also love to listen to books.  (yeah, if you see me walking around my neighborhood with my IPod, I am not rocking out to tunes but rather listening to a book or a podcast that will likely recommend a book).

While I do read some fiction, the bulk of my reading is in the non-fiction.  Here are 10 that I read this year that as parents or coaches you might find interesting in helping your athlete:

1. The Spirit of Kaizen by Robert Mauer.  Making changes are hard, especially if you have the tendency that  I do: to want to make a complete and total change overnight.  But since we all know that losing 20 pounds and getting our homes organized do not happen overnight, this book helps us to make small (and by small I mean tiny) steps that help us achieve our goals.  Great read for parents and coaches too as it can help us teach our kids how to move toward their goals in a non-threatening way.

3. The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday.  What if obstacles are not barriers laid in front of you on the path to success but instead are actually part of the path itself?  Holiday makes ancient philosophical arguments turn into easy to digest inspiration in this terrific book.  Parens and coaches, this one will help you help your kids to reframe their setbacks and frustrations.

4. Little Athletes Big Leaders by Bruce Beaton.  Navigating youth sports is not easy.  Beaton’s book is filled with useful stories and their lessons to help you navigate the insanity while maximizing your child’s sports development and her character development.  Bonus: if you have Kindle Unlimited you read it for free!

5. The Champion’s Mind by Jim Afremow.  My favorite lesson from this book: detach from the outcome and be concerned only with the process.  And there are dozens more in this book that will help you develop your athlete’s mind while learning a thing or two you can do to develop your own.

6. Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn.  After reading this you might re-think buying Suzy a leotard for doing her series on high beam.

7. Succeed: How we Can Reach Our Goals by Heidi Grant Halverson.  Stop thinking positively and start thinking how you are going to get your goal is one of the major messages in this book that I liked so much I bought it to read and to listen to.  There is so much good advice in this book that is backed by science.  A real game changer in how to think about our goals.

8. The Power of Resilience by Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein.  How to overcome adversity, including the daily adversity that causes so much stress in our lives, begins with developing a “resilient mindset.”  A great read to help parents and coaches through their daily struggles as well as how to help our kids develop this skill that is so critical to success.

9. Crucial Accountability by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzer and David Maxfield.  While written for businesses to improve employee accountability, this book’s principles apply to creating accountability in ourselves, our families and our teams.  It will also be useful in dealing with the interpersonal conflict that tends to arise between parents and coaches.  The underlying principle of mutual respect will go a long way in encouraging healthy relationships.

10. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin.  Since these are not books new to me, I am listing them as one.  Also, they are like chocolate and peanut butter: two great things that when put together are even more awesome.  Confession: I have read these books at least once every year since they were published.   They are that good.  If you want to learn how not just to be good at something but rather to be great at something and how to cultivate deliberate practice, the kind of practice that makes someone great, these are your books.  In fact, if you read nothing else from this list, read these two.

What did you read this year that was interesting?  Please share in the comments as I am always looking for great recommendations!