leadership

A Review of GO TOGETHER by Shola Richards

A Review of GO TOGETHER by Shola Richards

I have a few close work colleagues—friends, really—who I go to for support, consolation, venting, and laughs. The group of us get together regularly for tea or lunch to discuss the usual work topics, to compare notes about the latest gossip, and to exchange advice.

Most of the time our discussions are lively, positive, and proactive. But we have found that when we allow ourselves to sit in our frustration with a climate that we find challenging at times, our meetings can devolve into more bitching and less action. We all recognize we need to vent but also that it’s important to not walk away feeling defeated or full of negativity. So when one of these colleagues suggested we read Shola Richards’ Go Together: How the Concept of Ubuntu Will Change How You Live, Work, and Lead, I was intrigued.

While not for everyone, self-help-type books do have a place on my bookshelves. I am always looking for new ways to manage my depression and anxiety, practice mindfulness, declutter my home, or grow my leadership skills.

The book stood out to me because it is based on the concept of ubuntu, which I became familiar with in 2009 when I first traveled to South Africa. As Richards explains, ubuntu is often translated as. “I am, because we are” (page xv). It is also related to the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” (page xiv).

A Review of GO TOGETHER by Shola Richards

One of my screensaver photos, which captures the spirit of ubuntu.

In his book, Richards applies this philosophy of compassion, kindness, and unity to both personal and work lives.

Shola Richards is a speaker, writer, and trainer who is all about positivity. While I consider myself a pretty positive person and open to these types of methods, I knew a couple members of my group would be tougher sells than me. And as is true for many self-help books, this one toes the line of becoming a bit too saccharine at times, especially for those who tend towards skepticism (or sarcasm). But just as the book is about to descend into a refrain of “Kumbaya,” Richards brings it on back with realistic suggestions about applying ubuntu to work, like doing more of what toxic colleagues hate most and not being as asshat, especially when in a leadership role.

A Review of GO TOGETHER by Shola Richards

The author, Shola Richards.

Throughout the book, Richards gives the reader concrete examples, often telling anecdotes from his own life. The sharing of his own imperfections, fears, and vulnerabilities is effective in gaining the reader’s trust and understanding. Richards also provides pragmatic suggestions for the solutions he champions, including ways to build empathy, to practice ubuntu, and to act instead of standing by and letting fear take over. His advice centers on “Eight Keys to Unlocking Ubuntu at Work,” which are straightforward reminders like “Address It,” “Honor It,” and “Own It” with helpful explanations of each.

Richards sets the stage for the book by recounting a 2017 survey about civility in America which found that “Ninety-four percent of Americans believe that they are always/usually polite and respectful to others” (page 8). The same survey uncovered that respondents believed “…the state of civility in America has never been worse than it is currently,” with 75% of Americans believing that incivility has reached crisis levels (pages 6-7).

While not shocking considering our current political climate, these sentiments illustrate the disconnect between belief and practice, or perhaps the lack of self-awareness and individual responsibility, in the US today. Richards encourages the reader to reflect upon their own participation in incivility, to explore their pain and reactions to it, and to use ubuntu to find the unity and togetherness necessary to build a better world.

Overall, the book sparked a discussion for my group that was valuable to me. It offers practical suggestions for ways to improve work relationships and empowers the reader to try them. With chapters on healing yourself, being present, becoming a kind leader, building resilience, managing bullies, and more, there is something for everyone in this book. While the message of the book — be a decent person to build a better world — is not new, the concept of ubuntu may be to many readers in the US and may impact them in ways previous frameworks have not.

I would recommend this book to those looking to improve the culture and climate at their workplaces. Reading it with a group can be a proactive way to apply the suggestions in your daily work life and to have a support system in place for the journey. You may also want to check out Shola Richards’ first book, Making Work Work: The Positivity Solution for Any Work Environment.

 

Find Shola Richards online at https://sholarichards.com/ and http://thepositivitysolution.com/ and on Twitter @positivitysolve.

 

A Review of GO TOGETHER by Shola RichardsSummary:

Title: Go Together: How the Concept of Ubuntu Will Change How You Live, Work, and Lead
Author: Shola Richards
Publisher: Sterling Ethos
Pages: 208 pages
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Tags: Work, leadership, self help, #OwnVoices, memoir
My Rating: Recommended

 

Go Together: How the Concept of Ubuntu Will Change How You Live, Work, and Lead


For more information:

Identical twin Shola Richards drank gasoline as a kid; his energy is still lit by Munson Steed for Rolling Out (2016)

Managing Change at UC Riverside by Sandra Baltazar Martinez for InsideUCR (2017)

NOW Conference Lunch Keynote: Shola Richards

The Spirit of UBUNTU: Eight Keys to Creating a Workplace Culture of Unstoppable Positivity – Shola Richards at Berkeley in 2017

For discussion:

Are you a fan of self-help or professional development books? Which are your favorites? Do you think Go Together would be useful in your workplace?

 

Many thanks to Shola Richards for the complimentary copies of his books.
This post contains affiliate links; I write what I like.

eNseleni Library

What I’m Writing – 25 June 2018

So this is a new type of post for me: writing about what I’m writing!

I’m excited about some upcoming projects and thought I’d use this as a way to share the news but also flesh out some thoughts. It always helps me to share new ideas (verbally or in writing) and get feedback, so feel free to share any you may have!

I’ve always loved the research process and enjoy writing. Being a librarian in the academic institutions that I have, I haven’t had the requirement of writing to support tenure or for any other reason, really. Despite this, it’s always been a goal of mine to achieve my doctorate, to research, and to publish.

As a “non-traditional” undergrad and grad student (read: I was a single mom, working full time while in school), I didn’t have time to pursue writing and publishing like some other students. But I was able to dive into the research process when I began working on my doctorate in 2009.

This was such a challenging process and I devoted any time I had to it until its completion in 2016. During this time, I wasn’t researching or writing anything besides this dissertation about public libraries in South Africa.

eNseleni Library

A boy uses his local library in eNseleni, South Africa. (Photo by Karla J. Strand)

It’s been a couple of years and aside from newsletter articles and book reviews, I haven’t published much until recently. This summer, I was able to have an article based on my doctoral work published in Library Management journal. This is technically my first peer-reviewed article accepted in an academic journal and a big accomplishment for me!

Since then, looking for new writing projects has paid off and I am happy to share that I have signed a contract with Litwin Books/Library Juice Press! Part of the “Series on Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies,” my book will be edited by Emily Drabinski. It is tentatively scheduled for publication in 2020 and will be about the history of the Office of the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian at the University of Wisconsin, where I am currently the librarian.

The office has a wonderful history; one that demonstrates the power of women working together to affect change. I have four decades of office files and archives to sift through for the book, as well as a couple of previously published chapters that briefly cover highlights up to about 1990 or so. I’m excited to dive into research, reading, and writing on a focused project again.

GWSL Office files

Files in my office. (Photo by Karla J. Strand)

I’ve also gotten approval to submit a full draft essay for possible inclusion in an ebook focused on feminist leadership. My contribution will examine the role of libraries in the leadership development and empowerment of women, the initiatives some libraries are already undertaking to meet these goals, and the importance of libraries in addressing the gender imbalances of the current era. While there’s still a chance it might not be accepted, this is my summer writing project and I figure if it isn’t accepted for this ebook, I can submit it for publication elsewhere.

So that’s what I am up to on the writing front! Subsequent posts will be used to flesh out some ideas, share resources, and try out some themes. Until then, I welcome any feedback and would love to hear about your writing!

I’d like to write more and encourage more discussion on my posts, so to that end, I am joining the 2018 Book Blog Discussion Challenge for the remainder of the year! This challenge is hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight. For this challenge, I aim to post a new discussion post each month from now on (so this would have me at Level 1) and I hope you will participate!

So let’s discuss!

2018-discussion-challenge

 

Do you like to research and write? Are you an academic, independent scholar, fiction or poetry writer? Do you write for work or fun? Would you love to publish a book someday? What are your writing projects this summer?

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