The field of Conscious Business is a relatively new one, yet some of the seeds of it were sown some time ago. People have been writing about this kind of work for at least a decade.
Here are 7 books that I consider seminal in this field. There are many others of course, but these are 7 that have deeply informed my perspectives and practice.
OK, onto the list, in no particular order…
Conscious Business – Fred Kofman
Quite aside from the fact that a list of 7 seminal books on conscious books needs to include the book that’s actually called conscious business, this really is a massively important and rich book.
Fred brings his immense depth and precision to what he posits are the key capacities of someone embodying a conscious business approach, from unconditional responsibility to authentic communication. Constructive negotiation to emotional mastery.
This book had a profound impact on me when I read it, and I keep returning to Fred’s work year after year.
Good to Great – Jim Collins
Perhaps the most mainstream book in this list, ‘Good to Great’ is something I think every conscious business aspirant should read.
The thing that I think is most powerful about this book is the massive research that went into its creation. This is not about subjective opinions so much, as looking at the data that marks ‘great’ companies from ‘good’ ones. And it’s full of robust and lucid insights into what makes that difference.
It may not be explicit about the impact of consciousness in the mix, but I do think that’s what the book is really pointing to. Cracking stuff.
Anything you Want – Derek Sivers
This book is a little different. In fact it’s a lot different, but it’s still wonderful! It’s a short read (I read it in a lunch break), and tells the story of Derek’s business CD Baby, which he started by accident and then sold for $22 million.
Derek’s story is an inspiring journey through his own brand of consciously doing business (even though he wouldn’t necessarily describe it that way), full of snappy take aways, insights and philosophies.
Derek is someone who is a wonderful mix of idealism and pragmatism, and this is a must read for anyone in the conscious entrepreneurial game.
First, Break all the Rules – Marcus Buckingham
This is another one that may not typically considered to be about conscious business, but I think it’s a deeply informative book.
Based on 25 years of Gallup research, First Break all the Rules looks at what great managers do differently to ‘ordinary’ managers. The results and conclusion are wonderfully enlightening.
For me, this book nailed the fundamentals of good management and leadership. So many books go into the high level capacities of leadership, but this one goes back to basics and shines a light on the simple dynamics that mark great managers from poor ones. Some heart warming stories in it too.
Immunity to Change – Robert Kegan & Lisa Lahey
This is one of the most mature and lucid explanation of change I’ve ever seen published. Kegan’s previous work was rich and deep, yet dense. In this book he and Lisa Lahey not only create simplicity out of complexity, but get super practical.
Their immunity to change process in one they’ve been using in business for some years now, and I can only imagine the traction they must have got with it. But it’s also something you as an individual can guide yourself through.
Laying the ground for conscious business means change, and this book goes to the nub of why creating change is so hard, and how to get to grips with overcoming that difficulty.
A Theory of Everything – Ken Wilber
This is the least business focused book on this list, but Wilber’s work is, I believe utterly crucial for the growth of conscious business. In this more popularist presentation of his complex theories, Wilber shows the high level values dynamics that are at play in today’s world, and why things are the way they are.
If you’ve never read Wilber’s work, this is a great place to start, and I really do encourage you to start.
Yes, his work is very high level and based on orienting generalization, but he is, I believe one of the most important writers of recent times, and he changed my life. Any conscious approach to business that doesn’t take Wilber’s work into account is going to fall very short of what’s possible in my opinion.
Synchronicity – Joseph Jaworski
Joseph Jaworski’s story of his spiritual quest into the heart of leadership is breathtaking. Everyone I know who has read this book has been deeply impacted by it.
Jaworski was a successful lawyer, when catalysed by the breakdown of his marriage, he found himself doing some major soul searching. As he goes deeper into the heart of what he feels he’s here for, strange synchronous events start to weave together a path toward his realized dream.
Synchronicity is a profound and magical book. It’s not a set of steps or models, but a capturing of what happened to one man when he really let go into what he deeply cared about.
What are some of the books that have impacted you that aren’t on this list?
What have I missed? Would love to hear your favourites!