The best books for surviving (and thriving) in disruptive times

Who am I?

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to make a difference—by helping others become wiser and/or happier. But how? Colleagues, clients, and friends tell me that I have a capacity for energy that is boundless. I resisted that statement. It sounded “fluffy”. How could I make a difference if I saw “energy” as being some flighty firefly? Then, when I went through 2 bouts of burnout, I realized that energy was the secret—the secret to resilience, the secret to growth and service. Reading, writing, and speaking fill me with the energy to grow, learn, laugh, and serve. I trust these books and my writing will bring the same to you.


I wrote...

Burnout to Breakthrough: Building Resilience to Refuel, Recharge, and Reclaim What Matters

By Eileen McDargh,

Book cover of Burnout to Breakthrough: Building Resilience to Refuel, Recharge, and Reclaim What Matters

What is my book about?

The World Health Organization had already listed Burnout as a global occupational hazard before the pandemic. From employees stressed to the breaking point to organizations battered by resignations and shrinking markets, this book offers solid advice and insight that is timely, relevant, and actionable. Because all leadership starts with self-leadership, you’ll find a clear road map to breaking free of personal and professional demands while being given a clear formula for building a life of your design.

At the same time, you’ll find a nuanced, broader perspective about a workplace that is “preheated” for overachievers. Leaders will be equipped with valuable questions and practices to help employees turn burnout into fired up. But make no mistake. You’ll find this a big-hearted book, written in a lively style with lots of relatable examples and immediately applicable advice.

The books I picked & why

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Gift from the Sea

By Anne Morrow Lindbergh,

Book cover of Gift from the Sea

Why this book?

Anne Morrow Lindberg lived through the kidnapping and death of her child, the steady scrutiny of the press, and a husband who sympathized with the Nazis. She had to craft her own life amid turmoil and heartbreak.  But I didn’t know her full story when I first read this book in college. I was drawn to it for the power of wisdom she found while walking a Florida beach.

I’ve lived most of my life near the ocean and her powerful, timeless truths drawn from simple shells and sea life captured both my heart and imagination. Over the course of some 30 years, when I need to find insight and solace, I am drawn again to her book. I always read something that hits me in a different way. I’ve been so captured by her use of metaphor, that one of my books, Gifts from the Mountain, seeks to find wisdom from the world of backpacking!


Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates

By Karin Hurt, David Dye,

Book cover of Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates

Why this book?

To live and work in a world of turmoil and change requires courage. Resilience is a life skill that can be learned—but it takes courage. In this book, Hurt and Dye come up with very practical but realistic ways to identify organizational practices that encourage or cut-off valuable conversations.

I’m in the field of communications and their advice is not only timely but timeless. I reach for their book when I went to coach someone who is overwhelmed by the workplace. It might be a manager trying to hold a team together, or individual contributors trying to determine if a role is right for them.  Hold this on your bookshelf. I guarantee you will use it for yourself—or for others.


On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old

By Parker J. Palmer,

Book cover of On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old

Why this book?

On my nightstand, I have a journal in which I copy poems, writings that inspire, or insights I have. Two pages are filled with sentences I have copied from this book.  Why? Because getting older in these times of insanity and division can leave me anxious and without a rudder.

Parker has an amazing gift for making a statement that recharges and renews me:

“Calamites I once lamented now appear as strong threads of a larger weave, without which the fabric of my life would be less resilient.” Wow!

“Forget ego. Today’s peacock is tomorrow’s feather duster.”   Got it.

Or this one:  “Gravity pulls my skin down. But there is a counterforce called levity…Levity is the kind of humor that makes life’s challenges easier.” Get a blank book, a highlighter. Then read Palmer



After the Shock: Getting You Back On the Road to Resilience When Crisis Hits You Head On

By Becky Sansbury,

Book cover of After the Shock: Getting You Back On the Road to Resilience When Crisis Hits You Head On

Why this book?

I was so intrigued by Becky and her story that she became one of my case studies in my book. She has been through more traumatic transitions than most of us have in a lifetime. From her own experience and struggle, Becky has crafted a masterful model for sustaining and stabilizing our lives. 

She created the Four C’s as a foundation: comfort, control, community, and connection. I refer to her work as another guiding source when life becomes crazy…as indeed it will. From a place of feeling stabilized, Becky advocates a resilient response: how do you understand and use the experience? What assumption will offer support? And what resources do you have? I can and should refer to her book often for my own stabilizing.


Someday is Not a Day in the Week: 10 Hacks to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life

By Sam Horn,

Book cover of Someday is Not a Day in the Week: 10 Hacks to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life

Why this book?

Moving from burnout to breakthrough is about becoming clear on what really matters. Sam Horn, the most prolific and powerful wordsmith I have ever known, comes up with subtle and not-so-subtle ways of hitting you between the eyes and asking “what are you waiting for?” 

Becoming clear on what really matters is not about goal setting. But rather, it’s about what makes you excited, more playful, purposeful, and passionate about your life. As with the other books, I have highlighted so much. Now, my task is not just to read but to do. Sam not only crafts a process but her method of questioning will stop you in your tracks. She has a wealth of pertinent quotes that jump out on almost every page: from Buddha to Hugh Jackman, from Anais Nin to Eleanor Roosevelt.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in life satisfaction, management, and self help?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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