Staying the Distance by Catherine Baker – a book I have been excited for since I heard Catherine was writing it, and it certainly did not disappoint! Staying the Distance is an insightful, inspiring and thought provoking view of what it takes to be a successful leader, whether that be in business or sport. Refreshingly for this type of book it was filled with plenty of accounts from female coaches, athletes and leaders and is crammed with lessons that everyone of us can take away and implement in our roles as leaders and coaches. The philosophy of the book is one that is pertinent in today’s world of workaholics, fast results and immediate feedback, which often leads leaders and coaches to burnout. Staying the Distance walks you through the path of sustainability, calm and intentional behaviours to ensure you stay at the top throughout your career. If you want to find out more about Catherines work and her book, watch our interview with Catherine from earlier in the year: CLICK HERE
Unfair Play by Sharron Davies – Through the lens of Sharron Davies’ own experience as an Olympic Medallist from the 1980 Moscow Games, and co-author Craig Lord’s experience as a journalist covering the Olympic Games for over 30 years, Unfair Play is an incredibly well researched account of the discrimination women have faced throughout the modern Olympic Games. It is a candid, honest, and no BS deep dive into the fight for women’s sport and the current challenges of keeping women’s sport ring fenced for women. Unfair Play addresses topics such as the GDR doping of the 1970’s and 80’s, the delay in allowing women to compete in sports such as Cycling, Weightlifting and Boxing in the Olympics and the current transgender debate. The book does not shy away from the truth and the devastating impact that poor sports governance can have on women and girls around the Globe.
Master of Change by Brad Stulberg – Master of Change is a philosophical yet practical look at how we typically deal with change, and how we can excel during this change by shifting our focus from the need for homeostasis (returning to previous stability) to the need for allostasis (achieving new stability). Using examples from the high-performance world of business and sport, resilience-training, mindset-hacking, science, spirituality, philosophy and psychology – Brad takes us through the concept of cultivating a fluid sense of self, and the importance of implementing rugged flexibility. If we really do all buy into John Wooden’s coaching philosophy of “Your players must know that you care for them more than just as athletes.”, then shouldn’t change management and developing a fluid sense of self be part of what we coach our athletes? After reading Master of Change, I’d be surprised if any coach still says no.
Second Set of Eyes by Cody Royle – This is one of my top 3 books published this year, and feel that every Coach, Performance Director and Coach Developer needs to read it! Second Set of Eyes delves deep into where Cody believes this unintentionally designed system has lead us. Using examples from the NFL, English Football, NCAA Basketball, International Rugby and Aussie Rules, Cody shares with us stories of high performing coaches who are burned out due to ‘chronic individualism’, having sacrificed too much of their personal life for a job with no boundaries. Cody’s messaging throughout the book echos the messaging we are trying to get across through the Female Coaching Network, that is, the coaching system needs to change for the betterment of coaches and athletes. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and in particular would recommend it to those in charge of designing high performance coaching systems. By designing a human centric system, and not one that treats coaches (and athletes) like robots, we can create an intentionally safe, efficient and effective system for all to thrive.
Hidden Potential – Adam Grant – Having read every one of Adam Grant’s books and enjoyed nearly all of his podcasts, I was thrilled to see the release of another gem from him. Hidden Potential is yet another thought provoking, sensible and wise take on people development from the master of organisational psychology. One of the things I love about Adam’s messaging is how tangible and thought provoking each one of his discussions are are. His books (podcasts and social media posts) are always backed up by scientific evidence and inspiring anecdotal stories. The premise of Hidden Potential is to challenge the notion that all high achievers were once child prodigies and that greatness is born. Adam Grant argues that in fact the opposite is true “we can all rise to achieve great things”, and that “if provided with appropriate conditions of learning”, we can become “freaks of nurture, not nature”. Another brilliant book by Adam Grant, highly recommend to coaches who are looking for inspired ways of supporting their athletes through the following season, and for administrators looking to create changes.
The Race to Be Myself by Caster Semenya – a heartbreaking, devastating and shameful retelling of the experience of one of track and field’s most well known and successful athletes, Caster Semenya. I am not going to use this review to dive into the conversation around women’s sport, what I am going to do is recommend everyone read this book. Athletes are humans and should never be treated like fodder for the media and governing bodies to experiment on. As someone who has spent my life in track and field as a coach and change maker, I was appalled to read in detail the experience Caster was put through. Whilst I have followed her story closely since she won the World Championships in 2009, sitting down reading her experience in her own words was powerful and truly heartbreaking. Caster has had no choice but to be brave, but her honesty throughout her book was astonishing. My only hope is that those who played their part in the atrocious way she has been treated take a moment to reflect on their behaviour and that no one else is put through what she was.
Performance Under Pressure by Ceri Evans – As a coach and avid reader, I have read a myriad of self help and mindset development books all with the aim of educating myself in how better to support the coaches I work with, but also to find effective ways of improving my own lifestyle. It has not been until I read the book Performance Under Pressure, that the penny dropped, and I felt I finally found a practical way of coping with pressure. The concept is simple: when you feel out of control, overwhelmed, overloaded and hot headed, you are in the RED brain, and when you feel in control, have clear thinking and are task focussed, you are in the BLUE brain. The model then provides you with the tools you need to move across the scale out of the RED and into the BLUE when you need it the most.
Delete the Adjective by Lisa Jester – is an account of the journey of one of only three women to ever have made it through the US Rangers School. It is an exceptional story of grit and determination of one woman who wanted to show what she was made of. Lisa not only the oldest at 37, she was also a Mum of two – the average age of a trainee is 23 and male. Lisa volunteered for combat training when she discovered the Army Ranger course was being opened to women for the first time in 60 years as a U.S. government experiment to gauge how women would fare in the course. One of the key themes I took from the book is to not aim for being the best woman, aim for being the best. Lisa concludes by saying ‘I have a platform because I am old, female solider who passed Ranger school – but I want to use that platform to make the best voices heard on merit.”
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