Monthly Archives: July 2019

Fierce Conversations

As good as I am with words, I really struggle some times with conversations, being able to articulate what I mean and what I’m feeling about important topics in life and at work. Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott is a great tool for learning how to be intentional and fierce in conversation.

Scott’s premise, which she repeats throughout the book, is: “While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can.” Scott walks her readers through various exercises to help understand how to have quality, fierce conversations, the kind that changes everything.

Scott offers two different techniques to dive deep into conversation, as well as practical steps for how to prepare for those conversations.  Some of her strongest points include recognizing everyone involved in a conversation will have different truth, based on their perspective, and coming to a conversation to be present there, and no where else.

Through reading the book and doing the assignments throughout each chapter, I was able to bring myself some clarity in various areas of life, and prepare for some conversations that would otherwise be daunting. Scott helps readers ask themselves tough questions to find out the things we’re pretending not to know–which truthfully is more than we’d believe.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Fierce Conversations. I immediately put some of it into action. And while there’s a lot I could still do, knowing how to approach difficult conversations and how to create an environment where open and genuine dialogue is valued and promoted feels like half the battle.

Fierce Conversations is definitely a must read for leaders and managers, but it’s concepts are applicable to any relationship in life. So if you’re looking for more from your relationships, or looking for a way to overcome your difficulties conversing, pick up a copy. You won’t be disappointed.

 

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Khaled Hosseini is a popular author whose books are used often for required reading in schools. One of my goals this summer is to read some of these required books that I avoided by being homeschooled. What better way than to start with a book I nabbed for 10 cents?

A Thousand Splendid Suns starts with Mariam, a young Afghani girl looking for her place in the world. She lives in a isolated home with her mother, and Mariam lives for the weekly visits of her father, Jalil, a wealthy businessman with three wives who can’t let go of his illegitimate daughter and her mother. Mariam doesn’t understand her mother’s bitterness, until she experiences the disappointment firsthand. One simple choice sends Mariam’s life down a road she could never have imagined.

Ten years later, Laila is a young girl living in Kabul, the same town Mariam now lives in. Laila’s life seems to be blossoming, everything going so well, until the turmoil of the country at large finally strikes home. Suddenly Laila’s life is unrecognizable and she’s forced to make drastic choices to look after her future.

Mariam and Laila, despite their age gap of 15 or more years, find themselves thrown together living the same life–both are the wife of the same man. While adversaries at first, they learn to be friends, opening up with each other and finding common ground amid their trauma. Together, they begin to consider how to take charge of their futures and find the strength to take action.

I really enjoyed this book, as it laid out the culture and history of Afghanistan, which seems relevant today. But it was a challenging read, the further I got along. The story was heavy, the kind of story that makes you frustrated or angry about how the characters are treated. It’s worse knowing that it’s not entirely fiction.

But Hosseini writes about difficult topics sensitively. His characters feel real, you can sympathize with their fears, their hopeless moments, and their triumphs.

The Mourning Hours

I’ve been aware of Paula Treick DeBoard for a while, as she’s a local author in our area, but I’d never tried her books. When some of my used book scavenging gave me the opportunity to read some of her work, I quickly realized I should have started much sooner.

Kirsten Hammarstrom was just a kid when her quiet Wisconsin life was turned upside down. Her brother was the star athlete of the town, but when his girlfriend disappears, and he’s the last person to have seen her, the small town turns against the whole family. Kirsten tries hard to believe the story her brother offers for what happened that night, but a niggling voice inside suggests otherwise. Years later, another tragedy brings the splintered family back together, and the truth finally comes out, giving them all a chance to heal.

I started this book before bed one night, and had trouble putting it down. By the next night, I had less than 50 pages left (and I was not keen on leaving it until the next day, but, responsibility…). It was a fast read, written from a young girl’s viewpoint, capturing the naivety and innocence of a kid trying to make sense of what she’s seen and heard, and trying to come to terms with the sense of betrayal that comes with her conclusion.

The first of her novels, DeBoard proves herself a master at weaving a suspenseful story, full of characters that feel real. The choices the family makes are ones that readers can understand and relate to.

The Mourning Hours is a well written book, keeping readers engaged right up until the very end. I’m glad I have a second of DeBoard’s books to start on soon.

Yeager: An Autobiography

Every now and then, all I want to do is binge read biographies and other nonfiction books relating to space and flight. While not quite an astronaut, the autobiography of Chuck Yeager fit the bill enough to get me excited.

Yeager is most well-known for being the first man to break the sound-barrier (though to be honest, I don’t know if that’s really common knowledge anymore). But his story began quite some time before his flight in the X-1. Yeager got his start as a pilot during World War II, where he quickly became an Ace, even after being shot down himself and having to escape through France into Spain. After World War II, Yeager became a test pilot at what would become Edwards Air Force Base in California, where he eventually became the pilot to break the sound barrier. He would go on to serve overseas in Germany, Vietnam, and Korea.

Told in his own words and including sections from his wife and close friends, Yeager’s autobiography is a wild ride, showing the kind of unique dangers that come with the job, as well as a snapshot into the mind of a pilot who loves flying more than anything else.

Co-written by Leo Janos (I’m guessing compiled and/or edited), I think I can hear Yeager’s voice throughout the book, despite obviously not knowing the man. It’s written in such a way that you can just imagine sitting at the bar with him, being regaled with hair-raising stories of war, close calls, and dumb choices. It reads much like John Glenn’s biography, only a little more wild.

If you love history, flying, and/or biographies, it’s worth the read. And while you may not want you loved ones taking too much after Yeager, he does have some nuggets of wisdom to share with the next generation.