Book Review: The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives that Make You Feel Alive

Picture of Lightning Striking Atlanta

Over the past week I have re-listened to a motivational audiobook as I have been out and about in my car.  I particularly love audiobooks that are read by the authors who wrote them, and this was just such a book.  Brendon Burchard is a motivational speaker and NY Times best-selling author. In his newest book, The Charge: Activtating the 10 Human Drives that Make You Feel Alive, Burchard outlines what he believes to be the ten basic human drives that inspires and gives individuals the charge to illuminate their lives. The five basic drives are Control, Competence, Congruence, Caring and Connection.  His five Forward Human Drives are Change, Challenge, Creativity, Contribution and Consciousness. The term ‘Personal Knowledge Management’ is nowhere in sight, and the topics tended to relate more to business people than academics. So why am I writing about the book here?

For me, PKM encompasses much more than tools and plans and changes to our lives that let us manage our working lives more efficiently.  For me, an important aspect of the PKM lifestyle is focusing on the way we think and feel about ourselves, those around us and life in general.  All the productivity tricks in the world will be useless if we don’t have the mindset and focus to apply them.

The author is so energetic and enthusiastic that it felt like he was right there in the passenger seat of the car prodding me to pay attention and stay engaged.  I found, that even when I was mentally saying “yeah, I know that”, hearing a message or concept repeated in such a motivational way was actually starting a spark in me, and I found myself musing over several ideas that he put in my head during his “exercises”.

One such idea was to plan out a year’s worth of goals, assigning one to each month.  While the idea of coming up with 12 challenging goals to add to my already overextended life made my mind go tilt, the idea of a monthly focus had appeal.   “What if,” I mused, “I assigned myself very small changes to incorporate in my life and tackle one more each month?”  What if all I had to do was remember to read a daily devotional thought each morning, for example. The one month deadline makes the change more doable and somehow easier to start, simply because of the time constraints involved (afterall, I can do ANYthing for just one month, right?).  Then next month, I would very likely find myself better capable of keeping up the new habit of reading daily devotions and can continue that while focusing on another small change for the new month ahead.

Was this brain science? No.  Had I never heard of chunking deliverables (or changes) into smaller, more achievable chunks?  Of course I had heard of the concept.  That is one of the most basic project management rules out there.  What I did discover anew, however, was the benefit to listening to (or reading) motivational books and speakers even when I felt like I already knew about the topic they were addressing.  It made me think of all the great books I had in my bookshelves… positive thinking books that were full of highlighted passages marked by ME.   I marked those passages because they made an impact on me when I read them.  I bet they would make an impact again today if I read them again.  And they might just make me think about a problem or challenge I am facing today a little differently.  Sometimes, seeing things from a different perspective can make all the difference in getting a “stuck” project going again. And Hey!  There’s a great idea for another monthly focus for me to make… dusting off some of those old favorite books and getting inspired anew!

What’s in your bookshelves that motivated or made a difference in your life?  Maybe it would be worth taking a second look too.

Links Roundup #44: Background Music, Mindfulness books, Timelines, Choose Your Own Adventures

saddle and rope
  • Options for Centering Background Music:

The How to Geek folks recently published a nice grouping of The Best Sites for Background or Ambient Noise. If you want to create your own combination of background noices, you might find it fun to try out Noisli… (tip – The picture of the trees gives you birdsong. 🙂 I personally love birdsong) I would like to add to this list, that many of the Dan Gibson’s Solitudes albums are now on YouTube in their complete form – for example Pachelbel in the Garden or if you like Indian flute music (without chanting), try pieces by Paul Horn from his Inside Canyon De Chelly album which is also on YouTube. There are certain tasks I perform where this kind of background music is very helpful in relaxing my mind enough to focus productively on the task at hand.

  • Best Mindfulness Books for 2018

Those of you who had your interest whetted by last month’s book review post on The Mindful Librarian might be looking for other book recommendations on the topic of mindfulness. Editor-in-chief of Mindful magazine, Barry Boyce, recently named his Best Mindfulness Books This Year.

  • Tools for Creating Timelines

Here’s a nice little collection of tools to help you create jazzier graphics for your presentations if you have data that you would like to represent in the form of a time line. Richard Byrne of the website Free Technology for Teachers posted recently Five Good Tools for Creating Timelines. He even discusses a tool for multimedia timelines!

  • Choose Your Own Adventure

Have you ever wished you could jazz up your instruction sections with one of those “choose your own adventure” books that many of us so enjoyed growing up? Well Richard Byrne also recently posted several videos on How to Use Keynote (or PowerPoint) To Create Your Own Adventure Stories. Fun technique.

Book Review: The Mindful Librarian

The new year is traditionally a time of reflection of the past, and a realignment of goals and attitudes to start the next year. One particularly reflective book that I have read recently is The Mindful Librarian (by authors: Richard Moniz, Joe Eshleman, Jo Henry, Howard Slutsky and Lisa Moniz. Published in 2016. ISBN: 9780081005552.}

 To quote from the back cover: ” In an academic environment of rapid change and doing more with less, librarians are increasingly challenged to manage stress, remain resilient, and take a proactive approach to complex issues that affect our profession.” 

The book is geared to academic librarians or the solo school librarian, and addresses the topic of mindfulness in education, with special emphasis on higher education.  They begin with a grounding chapter in the concepts of Mindfulness, how it began, the science of mindfulness and some resources for further exploration of the mindfulness concept. The authors then explore the use of mindfulness concepts specifically in the broader field of education, and then the specific field of the undergraduate research process. In particular, one of the authors discusses in some detail his program for “creating a more mindful research paper.”

The focused application of mindfulness techniques to the field of librarianship begins in earnest in the fourth chapter and continues through the remainder of the text.  We have chapters on mindfulness and the ACRL Framework for Instruction, mindfulness and reference services, mindfulness when building relationships with faculty and mindfulness in library leadership positions. The final chapter tackles how mindfulness can enhance the solo librarian’s experience.

The authors draw parallels throughout between mindfulness concepts of staying in the present moment and deep listening  to the core tenants of librarianship. The authors share that “Deep knowledge about yourself enable you to be consistent, to present yourself authentically, as you are.”  These are key attributes that help build rapport with others and increase our ability to be approachable to those we serve. 

I liked the wealth of recommended reading sections at the close of each chapter. I loved Tim Ryan’s quote (p 52): “The goal of mindfulness is to make you more focused and aware, so your mind and body can be in the same place at the same time.”

I also liked the author’s perspective of seeing the research paper as a journey with each stage important.. rather than a rush to the finished product. Lao Tzu (p 53) says “nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” The book is peppered throughout with many such insightful quotes that would take me far too long to share them all, and would rob you, the reader, from the joy of finding them yourselves when you read this worthwhile text. 

The chapter on reference services had a number of role-played examples of the mindful, and not-so-mindful librarian and his/her interactions with students that makes for entertaining reading. 

Don’t skip over the chapter on leadership, even if you have no intentions of ever being a member of your library leadership team.  There are a number of insights that apply to librarians at all levels of an organization specifically about mindful communication, and how you also practice leadership from the middle of the organization as well.

How is your burnout meter running right now?  While the final chapter of the book is focused for the solo librarian, a valuable discussion of librarian burnout, a hot topic these days, can be found in this chapter. All said, The Mindful Librarian is a lovely way to start the new year and new semester in a more thoughtful, connected frame of mind. Enjoy!

Links Roundup #43: Christmas ideas, Electronic Notebooks, Copy-editing Tools

saddle and ropeBest Engineering Kits for Kids

Those of you who regularly read the American Libraries AL Direct emails, will have seen this post, however, given the upcoming gift-giving season, I think it bears repeating.  Caroline Stewart of posted on October 5th a very nice review of Best Engineering Kits for Kids.  I wish some of these colorful, fun toys had been available when I was young!

Other Christmas Ideas for the Young-at-Heart

Also highlighted recently at, are The Best Premium Drones for Photography, Racing and More and The Best Point and Shoot Cameras (yes, cameras not on your phone are better than ever and worth a look!)

And for my librarian friends, I have not forgotten you… Librarian themed gift items:  From Amazon; and a revisit to the American Libraries 2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Librarians and Book Lovers.

Electronic Research Notebooks (ERN)

We have talked here before about electronic lab notebooks.  In the Summer 2018 edition of Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship, Kortney K. Rupp of University of California, Berkeley revisits this technology with a focus more on big research data in her article: Electronic Research Notebooks: A Piece of the Research Data Management Puzzle. She also has a great Library Research Guide that discusses ERNs. Thanks Kortney!

Electronic Copy-Editing Applications

Lewis at Freelance Effects reviewed ProWritingAid recently in his blog post ProWriting Aid Review: A Close Look at the All-in-One Copy Editing Tool.  This tool has incorporated a number of enhancements over the past few years and  might be worth a second look by those searching for online copy-editing help.  The tool now offers WordPress, Word and Google Doc plug-in options. The catch is that these options are only available in paid versions.  The free version must be used online only and is limited to 500 words at a time and 19 reports.  While this can be frustrating, it does allow a writer to try out the application and test its usefulness prior to making a decision to enroll. Lewis describes his detailed trial and his impression is quite positive on this copy-editing tool. Kindlepreneur also reviewed ProWritingAid in his article on Best Proofreading Software of 2018. This review compares several of the top tools out on the web today including Grammarly, Hemingway, and Ginger as well as ProWritingAid.

We Interrupt this blog for a New Book Announcement!

Aajay Murphy with book

I am interrupting the normal topics of this blog to do a bit of shameless self-promotion.  The Director of the Graduate Library at Kennesaw State University (Cheryl Stiles) and I (Crystal Renfro) are proud to announce the publication of Transforming Libraries to Serve Graduate Students.

This book was a organic outgrowth of the burgeoning interest in graduate student services that began at the first two Transforming Libraries For Graduate Student Conferences held at Kennesaw State University in 2016 and 2018.

Cheryl and I co-edited this 460+ page text (34 chapters!), and it has been taking over a large portion of our lives for the past two years.  Our Digital Commons Managing Editor, Aajay Murphy is pictured to the left, holding our beautiful book.  He was the cover designer, and Cheryl and I totally fell in love with his stunning design.  We are so grateful that ACRL was willing to use Aajay’s design as the final cover.  As an aside, if anyone has ideas for a book in the field of academic library science, Cheryl and I highly recommend the folks at ACRL.  They were totally fantastic to work with.

We worked with librarian authors from across North America and Europe to investigate a broad array of library services and functions that target graduate student needs.  To quote the book blurb,

Transforming Libraries to Serve Graduate Students is a practical atlas of how librarians around the world are serving the dynamic academics that are today’s graduate students. In four sections—One Size Does Not Fit All: Services by Discipline, Degree, and Delivery Method; Librarian Functions and Spaces Transformed to Meet Graduate Students’ Needs; More Than Just Information Literacy: Workshops and Data Services; and Partnerships—readers will discover a plethora of programs and ideas gleaned directly from experienced librarians working at some of the top academic institutions, and explore the power of leveraging their library initiatives through partnerships with other university units.”

We think services for graduate students are a critical and often overlooked arena for academic libraries today, and we are pleased to offer this book as another step in the continuing conversation about graduate student library services that has begun to take place in the industry.  We hope many librarians and library administrators will read our book and implement new initiatives at their institutions as a result.  The true winners of our combined efforts will be the graduate students we all work to serve.   😀