Books

A Neuroscientist Recommends 5 Books to Help You Get Unstuck at Work

Pop quiz: polling organization Gallup regularly surveys workers about their level of stress at work. When did Gallup’s surveys show our collective stress level at an all-time high? If you said at the height of the pandemic when so many of us were in lockdown, battling childcare issues, risking infection to provide essential services, or worried about losing our jobs, that’s entirely understandable. It’s also the wrong answer.

The highest rates of workplace stress ever recorded by Gallup was in June 2022.

Despite the situation with Covid being objectively better now, the cumulative stress of the last two years, ongoing disruptions and inflation, and a perceived falloff in employers’ interest in employee well-being have actually made employees even more stressed now. In short, there are a lot of people who have lost their professional mojo out there.

What’s the cure? Experts have offered approximately a million and one exercises and suggestions. But one neuroscientist has an appealingly simple suggestion: Why not read your way out of your post-pandemic funk?

“We all experience the occasional slump at work when everything feels like a pointless drag. Fortunately, there are some books that can offer insight and advice to get you out of that funk,” writes neuroscientist Joe Bathelt on Medium before prescribing five titles to help exhausted professionals push through their current aimlessness and brain fog and get unstuck.

1. The Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden

I was thrilled to see The Motivation Myth by my ever-insightful Inc.com colleague Jeff Haden heading up Bathelt’s list. “The main idea of ​​the book is that motivation is not the main driver of productivity and is also not necessary,” Bathelt writes. Haden interviews successful athletes, business leaders, and creators to discover the true drivers of productivity and offer readers practical advice on how to get their butts in gear even when motivation is lacking.

2. Grit by Angela Duckworth

“Grit has become a hot topic in psychology and education,” Bathelt writes, acknowledging there has been some pushback against the trendy concept recently. But Bathelt is still a fan of This groundbreaking title on the subject. “For those of us who may be feeling in a bit of a slump, the book can help get a new perspective,” he insists, including “by illustrating that nearly everyone hits roadblocks from time to time” and illustrating how “highly successful” people deal with this.”

3. Expert by Roger Kneebone

“This book charts the development of expertise, drawing heavily on the experience of the author who worked as a surgeon, general practitioner, and academic,” explains Bathelt of Expert. What does that have to do with getting out of a slump?

Through interviews with a variety of experts (from an accomplished tailor to a leading hair stylist), the book details the up-and-down process through which true expertise develops and “illustrates the hurdles that have to be overcome to progress through each stage and highlights why people may get stuck at a particular level.” Batheit reports that after reading it, “I looked at my own difficulties in a different light… as typical for my stage of growing expertise.”

4. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Another class in the genre of psychology for a popular audience, Flow is one of the foundational texts of the positive psychology movement. “I had come across the central concept of flow many times when reading books on various topics, including education, game design, and mindfulness,” reports Bathelt. Reading the original source for the idea “helped to clarify the central concept,” he says, and find flow in his own work. “I expect that many readers will find plenty of material to reflect upon and potentially integrate into their lives,” he concludes.

5. Happiness by Design by Paul Dolan

“While the other books on this list may reinvigorate your resolve to work, this book may make you rethink your relationship with work,” claims Bathelt of this title. “One of the central messages that I got from the book is that we all need some balance between purpose and pleasure. For some people, it’s a lot of purpose and some pleasure, while other people tend more towards the pleasure side. If you force yourself to tip the scale towards a balance that does not suit you, you will feel unhappy.” Looking at the continuation Great ResignationI think that’s an idea a lot of workers could benefit from right now.

Good luck reading your way out of your funk!

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

Leave a Comment