Tag Archives: Books

Do all leaders really have to be readers?

There is a famous phrase that says “Leaders are readers.” I can’t verify if this has been consistently true throughout history, but on a personal level, I do know this for sure: reading helps me learn better, and learning helps me lead better.

Personally, I prefer reading books. I can go on and on about books, and those of you who have followed this blog long enough know this to be true. I always love giving books to people when my resources allow me to do so, but what I’ve learned throughout the years is that not everyone likes to read books.

“I tried,” says a friend, “but I really can’t sit still and read.” And that explains why I’ve seen some of the books I’ve given to people gathering dust on their bookshelves.

So what’s a non-reader to do? Do all leaders really have to be readers?

My answer is no. At least not everyone has to be a consistent book reader. Here are my 5 tips on how to learn and grow as a leader if you’re not into being a reader:

1) Opt for audiobooks. Do you feel left out when your friends talk about a book? More often than not, that book has an audio version. You can listen to it while you’re exercising, running errands, or while you’re stuck in transit. Yes, there are better things to do other than daydreaming!

2) Subscribe to podcasts or iTunes U. Podcasts are great options for those who want variety and don’t want to spend a single cent. You can find podcasts about everything under the sun, and just like audiobooks, you can enjoy them while you’re occupied with other tasks. Not a lot of people take advantage of iTunes U, but if you find it in your iTunes Music Store, do take the time to look around. There are some wonderful talks and lectures to be found if you spend some time digging. Podcasts and iTunes U tracks are all available for free.

3) Stick with the short stuff. Some people think they can never be readers because they can’t sit still long enough to read a whole book on just one topic. But nowadays, you can opt for lighter reading fare. Read blogs! You can read about a variety of stuff, and some blogs come with videos and pictures that will cater to your other learning needs.

4) Make listening appointments. Maybe you don’t like reading, but you have friends who devour books like potato chips. Chances are, they would love to talk about the books they just read, so I suggest asking them to fill you in on what they’ve learned. All you need is some time, a couple of focused ears, and an open mind. Paper and pen: optional.

5) Keep things bite-sized. As much as you try to avoid it, there may come a time when you’ll come across a book that you know you really want/need to read. Take the Bible, for instance. Reading the Bible is different from just hearing the Bible. When I read the Bible, I find myself having to read through a passage over and over to really ‘chew’ on it and let it sink in. If I were just listening to it, it would be too much trouble to keep having to go back to hear the same thing over and over again. Plus you can’t highlight an mp3! In cases like this, here’s my tip: just chop it up. When I started reading the Bible, I committed to reading one chapter a day. Nowadays, I’ve found that my time in the Word has been even deeper and richer when I just stick to reading 3 to 5 verses at a time and really taking the time to think them over. I’d like to think that reading 3 to 5 sentences a day is manageable for everybody. So whether you’re taking on the Bible or a book on business, you can do it! :)

One of my favorite definitions of success is from author and leadership expert John Maxwell. One portion of his definition says that success means “growing to your maximum potential.” If you look closely, that’s different from “maximizing your potential.” We can’t maximize our potential every day of our lives unless we plan on burning out quickly, but growth is something that can happen daily. Besides, we don’t even know what our “maximum potential” really is. The best we can do is to keep growing–and to keep growing, it’s always good to keep learning.

What are other ways that you learn? How do you make learning fun?

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Why bother with theology?

I’m currently reading Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris. The book talks a lot about three words that make most people squirm (myself included): theology, orthodoxy, and doctrine. I don’t often read books like this one, but I pushed myself to give it a try. In the first chapter, Harris already gave me a good reason to read further. I want to share with you what stood out for me, because I think he wrote it beautifully:

“I’ve come to learn that theology matters. And it matters not because we want a good grade on a test but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live. What you believe about God’s nature–what he is like, what he wants from you, and whether or not you will answer to him–affects every part of your life.”

He goes on to write:

“I know the idea of ‘studying’ God often rubs people the wrong way. It sounds cold and theoretical, as if God were a frog carcass to dissect in a lab or a set of ideas that we memorize like math proofs.

But studying God doesn’t have to be like that. You can study him the way you study a sunset that leaves you speechless. You can study him the way a man studies the wife he passionately loves. Does anyone fault him for noting her every like and dislike? Is it clinical for him to desire to know the thoughts and longings of her heart? Or to want to hear her speak?

Knowledge doesn’t have to be dry and lifeless. And when you think about it, exactly what is our alternative? Ignorance? Falsehood?

We are either building our lives on the reality of what God is truly like and what he’s about, or we’re basing our lives on our own imagination and misconceptions.

We’re all theologians. The question is whether what we know about God is true.”

Joshua Harris, Dug Down Deep

I like how he said that studying God can be like studying a sunset. Just last night, I saw the star-filled sky and it took my breath away. I could’ve easily missed it if I didn’t stop and look up.

For me, getting to know God is sort of like that. Whenever I manage to take the time to stop and really offer up and open up my senses to Him, He always takes my breath away.

What do we know about God? How does that affect the way that we live?

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Tell Me Thursday: What have you been reading lately?

It’s Book Fair week here in Manila, so in keeping with the theme, the question for today is: What have you been reading lately?

I have a bad habit of reading several books at the same time. I’m crazy, I know. :) Here are titles that are on my priority list:

1) Linchpin by Seth Godin
2) Entrusting the Key by Ali Smith
3) Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language by Deborah Fallows

Your turn! What are you reading?

In case you missed it, I’m giving out some special Book Fair offers and five gift certificates worth P500 from OMF Literature. You have until Saturday at noon to get a chance to snag one of the gift certificates! To find out more, check out this post.

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It’s the best time of the year to buy books…and I can help you save money while you shop!

Ever since I was a kid, there were three events of the year that I always looked forward to: Christmas, my birthday, and the Manila International Book Fair. This year’s book fair begins today (Wednesday, September 15) and ends on Sunday (September 19) and in line with this, I’m so excited because I have some great prizes and special offers (w/something FREE) up for grabs! In a moment, I’ll tell you how you can avail of these.

The Greatest Advice
I was inspired to write this post, not because of the Book Fair, but because around a week ago, one of my favorite bloggers, Tripp Crosby, published a blog post entitled The Greatest Advice I Have to Offer. His advice is simple: When someone recommends a book to you, read it. (He goes on to explain his point, so I highly suggest reading the rest of the post!)

I think Tripp is right. For the most part, I’m really glad I decided to read the books that were recommended (or given) to me. Most of the books have been more than worth my while, with just two to three of them not really meeting my expectations. I like it when I hear someone passionately discussing a book because it tells me that the book is worth investing in.

My Recommendations
In the same way, I love sharing the books that I’m passionate about! So without further ado, here are some of the books that I highly recommend:

  • If you feel like you’re floating (or maybe a little emo): Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
  • If you feel like you’ve been waiting forever: In the Meantime by Rob Brendle
  • If you’d like to boost your social skills: 25 Ways to Win With People by John Maxwell
  • If you’re married (or you think you’ll be married one day): Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
  • If you have communication problems in your relationships: The Five Love Languages (there are several different versions) by Dr. Gary Chapman
  • If you’re looking to grow in the area of public speaking: Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley & Lane Jones
  • If you feel the need to step out of your comfort zone: If You Want to Walk on Water, You Need to Step Off the Boat by John Ortberg
  • If you’ve been leading and you’re feeling the burnout: Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro
  • If you’re a woman, or you’re looking to understand women: Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge
  • If you’re a man, or you’re looking to understand men: Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
  • If you want to renew your perspective on money: The Storehouse Principle by Al Jandl & Van Crouch
  • If you’re feeling like you’re at your lowest point: Plan B by Pete Wilson
  • If you’re feeling stuck in your career: Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado
  • If you need to find a way to effectively pass on your ideas: Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
  • If you’re looking for a print equivalent of a big warm hug: God’s Blogs by Lanny Donoho
  • and of course, the one book that I highly, highly recommend above all else: The Bible (I like the ESV, NLT, TNIV, and The Message versions)

I’ve got more, but I’ll stop there! You can also check out some of the related links I posted at the end if you want more. And in case you were wondering, yes, I do prefer non-fiction books. :)

Ready for the Awesome News?
When I was writing this post, I got the idea to contact our friends from OMF Literature to see if they’d be willing to give away some goodies for you today. I’m thrilled that they agreed!

So first up, I promised something FREE: here’s the link where you can download OMF’s special Book Fair coupon set. Download it now and you’ll have the following:

  • a FREE TICKET to the Manila International Book Fair
  • 30% off on the following books: Back on Track by Ru dela Torre, The Attributes of God (Volume 1) by A.W. Tozer, and 10 Best Decisions A Woman Can Make by Pam Farrell (1 book per coupon)
  • 25% off on any OMF local or international book (1 book per coupon)

Awesome, right? BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

In addition to that, I’m giving away 5–yes five!–OMF gift certificates worth P500. Most of the books I mentioned on the list are available at OMF, so if you’re chosen to receive 1 of the 5 GCs, you can use your gift certificate to buy one (or more) of the books I mentioned above, or anything else that catches your fancy when you visit one of their bookstores located at Boni Avenue (this is one of my all-time favorite bookstores), Il Terrazo QC, Pergola Paranaque, and Greenbelt 1 (gift certificates are not valid at the Book Fair). Their books are pretty affordable, so you’ll be surprised what P500 can get you!

To get a chance to snag 1 of the 5 gift certificates, you must do BOTH actions:

  1. Leave a comment below and either a) tell me which book on the list grabbed your attention, or b) give me YOUR book recommendation.
  2. Tweet a link to this post. You can do it easily by clicking here. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can post a link on your Facebook wall by clicking here.

It’s so easy to join! This is only open to Metro Manila residents. I’ll pick the 5 winners at random on Saturday, September 18, at 12 noon, and if you’re one of the people selected, I’ll send you an e-mail or a direct message.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll see you at the Book Fair!

Happy reading! :)

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Tell Me Thursday: Let’s talk about books!

What are the three books that changed your life?

Here are the three that come to my mind:

1) Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado – It helped me know myself better, and set some direction in my life!

2) Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge – It helped heal some emotional wounds and see myself through God’s loving eyes.

3) The Message Bible – It was the first Bible that I couldn’t stop reading; it really helped jump-start my love for the Word.

Your turn!

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Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham + my Tell Me Thursday answers

Scroll down for the review!

Yesterday, I asked some Tell Me Thursday questions, which have to do with my book review for today (if you’re a woman, you definitely want to hear about this book). But before I get into that, I promised to share my own answers:

1) My favorite toy when I was a kid: My Care Bear Wish Bear. I loved the Care Bears and I thought they were real. Whenever I was on a plane ride, I would sit by the window seat to look for Care-A-Lot.

2) My second home: Like Cyndi, I like to think of the church that I go to as my second home. More than anything, it’s because of the wonderful people that I see whenever I’m in the building. Oh, and I love the food they serve for merienda (ginataan and turon!) at the basement cafeteria, too!

3) My comfort food: Breakfast food! I love waffles, bacon, eggs, cereal, muffins, and I can go on and on and on…

4) What I want to do if I could take a break from what I needed to do: I would escape to one of my favorite secret spots to get some peace and quiet. And just stay there, without worrying about the time. I would stay there and just think…pray…maybe read, too.

5) What makes me smile: Downtime with my nephews. I love that moment when they’ve stopped running around and they’re just sitting still beside me. It usually only happens when we’re watching TV or when they’re busy playing video games. My 2-year old nephew loves to crawl into my lap with his bottle of milk and lean his head against me. Happy times.

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Now the reason why I asked those questions was because thinking about what makes us happy–what makes us feel strong–is one of the key parts of living a strong life, according to the book Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently by strengths guru Marcus Buckingham.

Most women I know (myself included) grew up with the illusion that we need to live “balanced lives”. The question is, what does that look like? Have you ever really, truly, felt “balanced”?

Buckingham says, “So often you’re told to strive for balance. But balance is the wrong target. Balance is almost impossible to achieve and not fulfilling when you do.”

In the book, Buckingham addresses the common problems that women have, and offers some mindset-changing insights on how to live differently. Watch this video to know more:

My verdict: I love Buckingham’s idea of living an intentionally imbalanced life. It’s such a refreshing and freeing perspective that makes so much sense. After reading this book, I was able to rearrange my schedule in a way that opened up time for more “strong life” moments, like spending time with my nephews, taking road trips, and enrolling in classes that I knew I would enjoy. This book inspired me to take a photography class! Whenever I find myself feeling weary again, I go back to the principles I learned in this book. When I think about it, the book can be summed up in just a few paragraphs. If you don’t have the time to read it, you can just skim through the important parts and you’ll pretty much get the gist.

Give it a try: Take the free Strong Life Test and browse through the book preview here. (By the way, I wouldn’t take the test as gospel truth, though. I took the test twice and had different results each time, both of which could apply to me. I  just read both profiles in the book and took the recommendations with an open mind.)

Think about it: What makes you feel strong?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Plan B by Pete Wilson

One of the best books I read while I was on this trip is a book called Plan B. At the end of this post, I will tell you how you can have a chance to get a copy of this book for free (if you reside in Metro Manila)!

Here’s the gist of the book:

I love how God’s timing is always perfect. When I first got this book, I wasn’t in the mood to read it, but when I finally did, I’m glad I got around to it.

Suffering and pain are both inevitable. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) Sometimes the trials and tribulations seem to turn my world upside down that I don’t know what to do, and I end up sinking into a dark and desolate emotional place. When I find myself in a place that I didn’t expect to be, a place I didn’t want to be, I search, plead, and beg God for answers. And when they don’t immediately come, I get frustrated and depressed. Does this sound familiar? Does this happen to you?

Pete Wilson does a great job capturing the emotions behind the so-called nightmares that we experience through his own stories, and other real-life stories of people who went through their own seasons of great difficulty–the ones they didn’t ask for and they didn’t expect. As I read them, I, too, wondered about the answers, explanations, solutions…

But what if we didn’t need answers? What if there was something better than getting easy answers and quick fixes? Jesus did say we will go through trouble in this world, but we often miss the second part of the verse: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The book goes into what that second part means for us and what it looks like and feels like in our lives. It isn’t one of those books that offers paint-by-numbers solutions to our problems, but it does go straight to the heart of who God is and what He has done and what He continues to do for us. It’s an easy read, and if I were you, I’d keep a highlighter within your reach. For many people, this book is an invitation to hope once again. I highly recommend it, and it’s one that I’ll be reading over and over again.

For more information on the book, go to http://www.planbbook.com. You can also download a sample chapter here.

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I’ve got one copy of the book to give away! To get a chance to snag it, leave a comment below and either:

a) Tell me why you want the book
b) Give me a topic that you want me to write about (or a question you want me to answer) on this blog.

On Monday, July 12, I will select one person at random to get the free copy, and I’ll notify the winner through email. It’s really easy! Sorry, but it’s only open to those within Metro Manila. And that’s because…I’ll be back home in the Philippines next week. :) More on that in my next post!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

My simple joys

It’s funny how time and time again we get deceived into thinking that happiness is tied to wealth, success, fame, or power, and yet some of the simplest things in life that we often don’t notice can bring such joy! All throughout this trip, God has romanced me in ways that seem too simple and yet leave such an impact on me. Here are some of my simple joys (some are old and some are new!):

1) SEEING STORIES TOLD IN RANDOM PLACES – Last month, I wrote a post about the wonderful Twitter-like stories that can be found in Central Park. There’s more to be found, if you keep your eyes open!

Love the quote! Found on a bench in Golden Gate Park :)

Can you imagine what it was like when this little boy made this? Such tiny hands!

2) JUMPING – Thanks to a trip that I took a couple of years ago with my relatives, I learned the fine art of jumping for photos. In real life, these moments last for just a second, and yet the memories that come to mind when I see the photos bring a smile to my face every single time. :) Here are some of my favorite jumping pics that were taken during this trip (with a couple of my faves from that trip a couple of years ago!):

3) GOING BACK TO YOUR ROOTS Have you ever visited a home (or city) that you used to live in? I’ve visited my first home twice, and it’s always nice to come back :)

This was during my 1st trip back: my first playground in Palo Alto is still where it used to be!

4) PLAYING SILLY SIMPLE GAMES – In the Kids Church team that I belong to, I’m known as the go-to person when it comes to games. My fellow teachers rely on me to come up with crazy fun games for the kids (it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it!). Outside of Kids Church though, I don’t have the same amount of props or manpower to work with, but I do have some games in my arsenal that always work wonders when there are kids around. And they’re all free too! The first one is 20 questions (but I let them go past 20), the second is what I like to call the “Alphabet Game“, where each player takes turns thinking of something from the given category (we usually use animals, food, or places) that starts with each letter of the alphabet (so the first player gets the letter A, the second gets B, and so on and so forth), and the third isn’t really much of a game, but it’s fun to do. I usually ask a question that starts with the phrase “Would you rather have…”. For instance, “Would you rather have four noses on your face or just one nose but you’ll have to sneeze every 15 seconds for the rest of your life?” It’s HILARIOUS. (I think I’d still rather have one nose, by the way.) The reason I share these is because I’ve had the most wonderful bonding times with my loved ones (kids and adults included) thanks to these games. Apart from the laughs, we get to find out cool stuff about each other–like how some people would rather go to Disneyland than take a trip to the moon!

5) READING A GOOD BOOK – There are so many great books out there, sometimes I wish I could just hand out multiple copies of my favorite ones for free to people. I’ve read around five books during this trip and every time I finish one, I think, “Oooh, I should buy [insert friend or relative here] a copy of this!” If I ran with that thought every single time I would be deep in debt by now. I haven’t tried an e-reader, but I imagine it would be awesome. I would love to be able to have multiple books and a Bible with me all the time without actually having to haul around all the real stuff! But books are wonderful. No list of simple joys of mine will be complete without bringing books up. :) I’ll be doing more book reviews in the coming days and weeks, so stay tuned!

How about you, what are the simple joys that made you smile lately?

BOOK REVIEW: Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young

I haven’t read a devotional in a while, and I miss having one. One of the reasons why I was able to get into reading the Bible was because of reading devotionals. My first devotional gave me an introduction to God’s heart when my mind couldn’t quite process yet the words I was reading in the Bible. Ultimately, it led me to open up my Bible more and more until it became a habit I now can’t live without. :)

The devotional I’m reading now is called Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young. This devotional is unique because each entry is written as if Jesus himself was speaking to the reader. I can’t describe the devotional any better than what’s written in the Amazon product page: “After many years of writing in her prayer journal, missionary Sarah Young decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever she believed He was saying to her.  It was awkward at first, but gradually her journaling changed from monologue to dialogue.  She knew her writings were not inspired as Scripture is, but journaling helped her grow closer to God.  Others were blessed as she shared her writings, until people all over the world were using her messages.  They are written from Jesus’ point of view, thus the title Jesus Calling.”

God speaks, it’s just that some people don’t recognize His voice. Some think that He speaks like a killjoy of sorts, or someone who preaches haughtily to the world from a high seat of power. My experience of God speaking is completely different. I know Him to be warm, encouraging, passionate (especially if I’m drifting), but always truthful, and always loving. Of course, my ears weren’t always attuned to His voice. A combination of being still, desperate, eager, and expectant, coupled with times soaked in the Bible has helped me over the years to recognize the voice of God. And until this day, my ears still need fine tuning. Just like any relationship, there’s more to learn as time goes by. :)

This devotional is a great way to discover or rediscover what God sounds like, but just know that it can’t replace the Bible–the author says the same thing too. That being said, you can let the words from this devotional sprinkle your soul. To describe it one word, I’d say it’s refreshing. :)

If you’d like to preview the book, you can do so here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible

If you ask me, as much as I love hundreds of books and movies, I still believe the Bible holds the greatest stories in history. The problem for me is that there are far too many stories for me to keep track of (I can’t remember where to find them all!). Enter the NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible collection. In theory, it sounded like a good addition to my little library: all the greatest stories of the Bible in a storybook format. So when I had the opportunity to review it, I welcomed the chance.

My first thought? I wish it had illustrations. Now THAT would really make it a storybook for keeps! Sadly, the entire book is just filled with text. However, I like the fact that the stories are easy to find, thanks to a simple but comprehensive index at the back of the book. Want to remember what happened to Daniel in the lion’s den but don’t know where to find the story in the Bible? Just go and check the index! Easy as 1-2-3. I like it. It’s also nice to open it up before I go to sleep, as if I were to read a bedtime story to myself. (And when I have kids one day, I’m sure I’ll do the same for them, too!)

However, I’m not a huge fan of the NKJV translation. While it’s essential for some people, I still need time to get used to it, having been used to the NIV/TNIV, NLT, and The Message. I like exploring different translations of the Bible though, so I’m still going to give it a chance.

I hope they come up with a small gift book or pocketbook version that can be carried around. Unfortunately, the bulkiness of this book ensures that it’s not leaving my room anytime soon. Here’s hoping I don’t forget about it!