People & Books

Having published my first book, Forces for Good, earlier in the year, it has been fascinating during the last few months to observe the various different reactions from friends, business associates and acquaintances.

For those who haven’t read it, the book charts my journey into leading a purpose-driven business and includes guidelines and advice for businesses wanting to make the world a better place through the way they do business. During the writing process it quickly became clear if we are really going to make a difference it also involves personal change, and that is the subject I have been asked to talk about when speaking at conferences and other events this year. With all the political turmoil and uncertainty at present, the world seems to have become more polarised and there is a tremendous desire amongst many to be better people with more compassion for the world, and there is an eagerness for change. Maybe that hasn’t resonated with you yet, and maybe you will recognise yourself in some of the scenarios below. So, with that in mind back to the various different reactions to the book and the subject matter within it.

Firstly, and most surprisingly, there are many people these days who rarely read books. Some people have said this to me almost proud of the fact, and some had vowed to never read any non-fiction books since they left university. How sad! I love fiction and often read several books when on holiday, but I read some non-fiction every day soon after waking up and before I go to sleep each night. I find feeding my mind and my soul with inspirational content is very beneficial, and therapeutic. Also, many of the ideas I read about I take into my day, or my subconscious reflects on whilst I am asleep. So, if you don’t read, I can recommend it. Start small with 15 minutes a day.

Secondly, there are those who have promised to read my book and write a review for me on-line, but haven’t got around to it, and some have had the book for five months now. Well-intentioned people, but probably too busy for their own good. The older I become, the less I do, but the more I achieve. I have spent much of my life being a busy fool, but these days, I reflect more, delegate more and am far more purposeful and fulfilled than I used to be. Many leaders in the world, business and otherwise, ‘do’ too much and do not spend enough time ‘being’. They would achieve far more if they took more time out to read and reflect.

Thirdly, there were those who seemed a little threatened by the fact I had published a book. The reactions ranged from a discouraging silence to an almost audible, “Who do you think you are to have written a book?”. Some of this was from close friends and family members. I don’t quite understand this, but talking to other authors, this reaction is quite common. Maybe some of this reaction is due to many people wishing they had published their own book and never quite got around to it and feel slightly jealous? I don’t know and don’t need to know. Fortunately, I am thick-skinned enough to not be hurt! 

I have even had this reaction from those in the business community of B Corps, along the lines of ‘why do you think you are qualified to write this book?’, which is even stranger as one of my main motivations for writing the book was to inspire more businesses to become B Corps. A book needed to be written in easy-to-understand language to encourage more normal businesses to be extraordinary and make a difference! As I understand more about people and myself, I realise that a few good leaders have egos that get in the way of them being great leaders. We can all think of politicians where personal insecurities and issues interfere with their politics, well the same is true of leaders within the business community. This is why personal change must run simultaneously with the aim of changing the world for better.

Finally, and thankfully the majority amongst those I know personally who expressed a reaction are those who are overwhelmingly positive, of course. Some, who I don’t know very well have supported and promoted the book within their own communities and I am very grateful for their support. I’m the same if someone asks me to help them out, I will always try to do so and have deliberately read at least 5 books over the past 6 months, mainly to write the author a positive review. I have found that helping others and being altruistic with a small degree of sacrifice on my part means I am a happier and more fulfilled person. Now, there is more on that in the final part of the book, which you will have to buy to find out!