My Reading List for 2021

My Reading List for 2021

Like many of you, I create a reading list for the upcoming year. 

What many people might not know is that my reading list is divided into themes. The reason for this is (1) I want variety in the books I read; (2) I want to focus my reading around a few key topics and/or skills; and (3) I always want to incorporate fiction in my reading.

Before sharing my themes and the books within those themes, I do want to make one note. Don’t get too caught up into the amount of books on my list. My goal is to read 38 books this year. (If I accomplish this, it’s the most I will have read in a year.) Now, I know successful people who read less than me and others who read more. The key when it comes to reading, like most other things, is quality over quantity. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Little learning and much pride comes from hasty reading.” 

Read to gain knowledge and insight. Read to learn a new skill or refine an existing strength. Read for pleasure and inspiration. Just make sure that whatever you read, you allow those books to benefit both your personal development and also add value to the lives of the people around you. 

Here is my reading list for 2021 categorized by their themes (all links are affiliate links):


Mental Toughness

  1. The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
  2. Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
  3. Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday
  4. Toughness Training for Life by James E. Loehr
  5. It Takes What It Takes by Trevor Moawad
  6. The Power of Other by Dr. Henry Cloud
  7. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
  8. Discipline=Freedom by Jocko Willink


Strengths/Personal Development

  1. Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton
  2. Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath
  3. Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
  4. 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson



  1. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
  2. The Starbucks Experience by Joseph Michelli


Fiction: C.S. Lewis

  1. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
  2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  3. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
  4. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
  5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
  6. The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
  7. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
  8. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
  9. Perelandra by C.S. Lewis
  10. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis


Nonfiction: C.S. Lewis

  1. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  2. The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
  3. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
  4. A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
  5. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
  6. The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis


Autobiography/Biography: C.S. Lewis

  1. Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life by C.S. Lewis
  2. C.S. Lewis–A Life: Eccentric, Genius, Reluctant Prophet by Alister McGrath
  3. C.S. Lewis: A Biography by A.N. Wilson



  1. The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller
  2. Cherish by Gary Thomas



  1. The Question of God by Dr. Armand Nicholi, Jr.
  2. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
  3. Aesop’s Fables


Game Plan

What’s on your reading list for 2021?

I’d love to hear about it. Write a comment below or connect with me on social media. Tell me which books you’re looking forward to reading this year (or maybe the books you’ve already read!).


Tweetable Lesson

Top 10 Posts From 2020

Top 10 Posts From 2020

I know all of us are ready to leave 2020 behind and focus on 2021. But like many of you, I spent some time reflecting on the last year, and there were certainly lessons I learned. Here are my top 10 posts from 2020, a sample of lessons I learned and shared over the last year.


  1. The First Ingredient of All Great Leaders (Part 2)

There is no “one size fits all” leader or leadership style. But there are characteristics or qualities that all great leaders have in common. In the first session of an ongoing series entitled “The Ingredients That All Great Leaders Have,” I share the characteristic that is foundational to effective leadership.

  1. The Art of Goal-Making: How I Read 25 Books in a Year (Part 2)

In this series, I share some tips that have helped me become more consistent in accomplishing my goals. In fact, these techniques helped me go from reading 13 books in 2018 to nearly doubling it to 25 books in 2019. Part 2 is focused on what most people forget when it comes to creating their goals.

  1. A Type of Learning That Transforms

We are inundated with information. And when it comes to learning, the opportunities are endless. However, for all this intake of information, is it producing growth and development? Here’s why this is an important question. Information, in and of itself, doesn’t produce transformation. Transformation is in the application. Simply knowing a fact or point of view cognitively doesn’t help us develop. So, how do we create a type of learning that actually transforms instead of one that simply informs?

  1. The Top 5 Temptations That Will Derail All Leaders

We have all heard stories of highly talented leaders (and celebrities) who never reached their potential because poor choices ended up derailing their career. Our leadership journey is a marathon, not a sprint. And if you are going to be a leader that finishes well you must stay away from these common temptations.

  1. Leading in Uncertainty 

Leadership, (or the lack thereof), is revealed through adversity and uncertainty. The measure of leadership is not found in how one leads in security and success; it’s how one leads in uncertainty and chaos. Here are five tools to help you lead both yourself and your team effectively through uncertainty.

  1. How to Lead With Significance: Vision

Significance is more important (and impactful) than success. If leaders want to lead with significance, there are 10 qualities or skills they must develop. In this video session, I share the first skill of leading with significance (vision), why it’s vital to leadership, and how to develop vision.

  1. How Not to Stand Out

In this Sixty(ish) Seconds with Shawn video, I share two traits that will guarantee that you don’t stand out and will eventually cripple your leadership. 

  1. A Leadership Lesson From a Janitor

The President and a janitor walk into NASA…that sounds like the start of a joke. But it’s actually a powerful story about the importance of vision, how to increase employee engagement, and how to be self-motivated at work. In this Sixty(ish) Seconds with Shawn video, I share a great leadership lesson that I learned from a janitor.

  1. How to Stand Out

Most of us want to stand out, whether at a job interview, at our current place of work, or even among our family and friends. But let’s be honest: few of us do. In this Sixty(ish) Seconds with Shawn video, I share the eight traits that will guarantee you stand out and make you a more effective leader.

  1. My Top 10 Leadership Books of All Time (1-2)

Many of us understand the importance of reading, but due to busy schedules or an overabundance of options, we struggle with consistency (or perhaps we even struggle to get started). In this video session, I share my top two leadership books of all time.


The Leadership Myth (Part 2)

The Leadership Myth (Part 2)

Why do so many organizations struggle to hire quality managers? I believe there are two main reasons for this…two myths that we still buy into when it comes to leaders. In the video below, I discuss the second “Leadership Myth.” If you need to catch up, you can find The Leadership Myth (Part 1) here.


Game Plan

What interpersonal skills make a great leader in your organization?

How can you develop those skills or evaluate those skills when hiring your next manager?


Tweetable Lesson


The Leadership Myth (Part 1)

The Leadership Myth (Part 1)

Why do so many organizations struggle to hire quality managers? That’s a big question. But let me offer two reasons. There are two myths that we still buy into when it comes to leaders. Check out this video to find out what they are.


Game Plan

If you are an experienced or seasoned leader, what other skills do you need to develop so that you don’t rely only on that experience? 

If you are a young or inexperienced leader, how can you gain experience quickly and accelerate the learning curve?


Tweetable Lesson


How to Cast Vision

How to Cast Vision

Almost every leadership book you read will mention the importance of vision. In fact, it’s in my “Top 10” of most important leadership qualities. (I share why vision is so important to leadership here.)

A leader needs to have a personal vision. A vision for their leadership that transcends their job or current role. (If you don’t know your personal vision, learn how to discover it here.

A leader also needs to have vision for their organization, department, and/or team. 

Where many leadership books fail is when they don’t take the next step to tell you how to cast vision. It’s not enough to merely know your vision. You must be able to communicate both your personal vision and organizational vision. A vision not shared becomes a powerless dream. 

So how do we communicate our vision in such a way that inspires the people around us?

Author and leadership guru, Andy Stanley, outlines two key steps to casting vision effectively. 


Embrace Personally

The first step a leader must take after discovering her vision is to embrace it personally. What does this mean? It means that she embodies the vision and starts putting it into practice. She lives it out

Many leaders make the mistake of communicating a vision that doesn’t match up with their lifestyle. There can be no duplicity between the vision and the leader’s personal life. They must be unified. If there is a difference, that’s called hypocrisy.

If your vision isn’t resonating with your team, the first question you must ask is “Is my life a living representation and ambassador of this vision?”


Proclaim Publicly 

After embracing our vision personally, the next step is that we must proclaim it publicly. We have now earned the right to share our vision because our words will match our actions.

When it comes to communicating our vision publicly, there are three stages of communication. 

  1. Individual Buy-in: If we are casting a new vision that could face some opposition, we must begin by getting individual buy-in through private conversations. You can do this in 1:1 or small group meetings. This is your opportunity to share your vision and answer any questions people may have. It also gives you an opportunity to practice sharing your vision so that you can articulate it as clearly as possible. 


  1. Inspire First: After getting individual buy in, it’s time to share corporately. The mistake many leaders make is that they bury the lead. They focus most of their speech on the “how.” How are we going to accomplish this vision? Don’t get caught in the weeds. Your primary goal is to inspire your team. You need to explain the “why” of your vision. Why is this vision important? What impact will accomplishing this vision have on the company or team? People don’t care what you do until they know why you do it. As the title of Simon Sinek’s best selling book says, “Start with Why.”


  1. Repeat and Reward: Another mistake leaders make when proclaiming their vision publicly is that they communicate it once and then stop. The problem with this is that vision leaks. People get busy and forget. The day to day responsibilities of their job choke out vision. In order to make your vision stick, you must repeat it. There are two ways to do this: 
    • Share the vision regularly. This should be done weekly. The famous Ritz Carlton has gold standards of customer service. Each employee gets a small card with the standards printed on it and they are required to carry the card with them at all times. At the beginning of each department’s shift, they regularly go over the gold standards.
    • Reward people whose behavior emulates the vision. Remember – “what gets rewarded gets repeated.” Reward those team members publicly and not only will they continue to put the vision into practice but it will spread to the rest of the team.


Game Plan

Think about the last time you had to cast vision. Maybe you were sharing a new initiative that your department or team was focusing on. Or maybe you were simply communicating your family values to your kids. 

How did this vision casting session turn out? What could’ve been done differently? 


Tweetable Lesson


How to Accomplish Your Personal Vision

How to Accomplish Your Personal Vision

Over the last two weeks, I’ve shared about how you can discover your personal vision. (If you haven’t read those posts, you can catch up on them here: Discovering Your Life’s Purpose Part 1 and Discovering Your Life’s Purpose Part 2)

This vision is basically your personal definition of success.

The reason discovering your personal vision is so important is because:

  1. It gives you direction. It shows you the destination for your personal life. And it also serves as a scoreboard. It shows us whether we are winning or losing in our personal life.
  2. It gives you the blueprint on how to live a fulfilled life. If you are not experiencing fulfillment, there is a good chance that you are not consistently living out this vision.

Once we have taken time to discover our personal vision, the next step is that we have to give it feet. Put another way, we have to make it practical and create steps that lead us to our destination.


Game Plan

What is your “Rule of 5”? What 5 activities will have the most significant impact on helping you accomplish and live out your personal vision? Write them out — then, share them on social media with us (tag @shawnwelchco so we can see!)


Tweetable Lesson



Discovering Your Life’s Purpose (Part 1)

Discovering Your Life’s Purpose (Part 2)