Recommended Books

This is one of Morrison Mentoring's favourite books about motivation. Founded on many years of research, and containing numerous examples drawn from real life, this is a great first-read on self-determination theory. Here's how the publishers describe it:

If you reward your children for doing their homework, they will usually respond by getting it done. But is this the most effective method of motivation? No, says psychologist Edward L. Deci, who challenges traditional thinking and shows that this method actually works against performance. The best way to motivate people—at school, at work, or at home—is to support their sense of autonomy. Explaining the reasons why a task is important and then allowing as much personal freedom as possible in carrying out the task will stimulate interest and commitment, and is a much more effective approach than the standard system of reward and punishment. We are all inherently interested in the world, argues Deci, so why not nurture that interest in each other? Instead of asking, "How can I motivate people?" we should be asking, "How can I create the conditions within which people will motivate themselves?"

"An insightful and provocative meditation on how people can become more genuinely engaged and succesful in pursuing their goals." —Publisher's Weekly

Another Morrison Mentoring favourite, this book is a little more technical, exploring the relationships between what people believe about themselves and their ability to perform tasks. Although written for students of psychology, education and related fields, each chapter is relatively short, and Dweck avoids using jargon, meaning the text remains accessible to an interested reader. Here's how Amazon describes the book:

This innovative text sheds light on how people work - why they sometimes function well and, at other times, behave in ways that are self-defeating or destructive. Dweck presents her groundbreaking research on adaptive and maladaptive cognitive-motivational patterns and shows:

  • How these patterns originate in people's self-theories
  • Their consequences for the person - for achievement, social relationships, and emotional well-being
  • Their consequences for society, from issues of human potential to stereotyping and intergroup relations
  • The experiences that create them.

When I first saw this book on bookshelves, the deceptively simple title put me off - I thought it was going to be another "easy solutions to difficult problems" self help book, which promised a lot, but delivered little. Instead, it is a clearly written and easy-to-read presentation of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), a clinically researched mode of therapy which is increasing in popularity across Australia and around the world. As I read this and other books on ACT, I became something of a dovotee and have trained in ACT with Dr Russ Harris himself, along with many other psychologists, counsellors, coaches and social workers. This book is a great introduction to ACT and comes highly recommended by Morrison Mentoring.

If you stop and think about how often you try to persuade someone to your point of view - whether it be as a parent, in your working life, as a (possibly disgruntled!) consumer, or in your relationships - you realize that what Howard Gardner calls "the art and science of changing our own and other people's minds" is an important human lifeskill. In this superb book, Gardner thoroughly treats his topic, from "The Contents of the Mind" in Chapter One through a range of practical situations as the book progresses. I have given copies of this book to friends who have taken up leadership roles because I think it is such a superb work. I trust you will enjoy reading it, and applying Gardner's research and strategies yourself.

Daniel Goleman is familiar to many as the author of the international bestseller "Emotional Intelligence". In "Destructive Emotions and How We Can Overcome Them", he engages in a dialogue with the Dalai Lama about some of humanity's oldest and most important questions: Why do seemingly good people commit acts of evil? What are the root causes of destructive behaviour? How can we control the emotions that drive these impulses? Can we learn to live at peace with ourselves and others? A stimulating, challenging and broad-ranging read, this book reports on the way scientists, philosophers and religious leaders respond to these and other questions. Very enjoyable.

Dr. Russ Harris asks: "Is there a gap between where you are right now and where you want to be? Is a lack of confidence holding you back?" In The Confidence Gap, Harris applied the principles of acceptance and commitment training (a variant of acceptance and commitment theory, or ACT) to these questions. This is not one of those books which promises a lot but delivers little: The Confidence Gap is based on a scientifically proven approach which has helped many people improve the quality of their lives. If there's something you're dreaming of, something you really want to achieve, perhaps this is the book which will help you get there. In my opinion, it's one of the better options out there.

Book of the Week

This is, without doubt, one of my favourite books of all time. Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein take the reader on a hilarious journey through major philosophical disciplines such as metaphysics, logic, ethics and existentialism, illustrating highlights of each through jokes. Yes, it's just as zany as it sounds - and it works! This book is hilarious, and it's also a really great introduction to some of the schools of thought which have shaped our society. I can't recommend it highly enough. I loooove it ... and I think you'll love it, too!