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Inspiring Reads for 2022

Yes, we’ve been through a lot. A sustained crisis with a global impact has sparked many reflections over the last two years. Both business and school leaders are taking notice.

The Great Realization. The Great Reset. The Great Resignation.

Whatever you call it, leaders are desperately trying to make sense of a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. So, it’s no surprise that our reading challenge for 2022 has an organizational psychology theme: relationships, motivation and leadership.

Who are the inspiring authors or books — the ones that prompt reflection — that you would add to this list?

Fearless Schools — Doug Reeves

What does it mean to be fearless? Dictionaries offer two definitions: free of fear or brave. In his book, Fearless Schools, educational researcher Dr. Doug Reeves focuses on the first definition — creating an environment free of fear. Inspired by Harvard leadership professor Amy Edmundson’s book, Fearless Organizations, Reeves explores the idea that psychological safety is key to learning, resilience and excellence in schools.

Think about it. Minds are most open to learning new or abstract ideas when free of fear. Fear triggers our fight, flight or freeze response. When an environment is free of fear, our brains are more open, receptive, creative and curious. If children trust the adults in their lives, they are more willing to try new things, moving outside their comfort zone into the learning zone.

“Reeves is pragmatic about how things work in schools,” notes CEL strategist Janet Swiecichowski, APR. “More than a decade ago, he coined the term initiative fatigue in schools. He has always focused on what matters most to support students and learning. For school leaders and communicators, his book offers the messaging your school community is longing to hear.”

Publishing this book in 2021, Reeves provides an inspirational prescription for how schools can emerge from the fearful pandemic environment to a more resilient future.

Think Again — Adam Grant

Organizational psychologist and Wharton professor Adam Grant’s latest New York Times Best Seller, Think Again, inspires us to question what we thought to be true, unlearn and relearn for a new era.

Amazon provides this testimonial from Dr. Brené Brown:

THIS. This is the right book for right now. Yes, learning requires focus. But, unlearning and relearning requires much more — it requires choosing courage over comfort. In “Think Again,” Adam Grant weaves together research and storytelling to help us build the intellectual and emotional muscle we need to stay curious enough about the world to actually change it. I’ve never felt so hopeful about what I don’t know.

CALSPRA Executive Director Trinette Marquis, APR, adds, “As a social science junkie, I’ve enjoyed Adam Grant’s previous books and expected to like it. What I didn’t expect was so many data-driven, ah-ha connections to our work! It matches our four-step process and is literally a checklist of the best ways to approach engagement and persuasion. It’s inspired me to approach everything with a scientist lens and try what he calls ‘motivational interviewing.'”

High Conflict — Amanda Ripley

For anyone facing contentious debates and activism in public meetings, this one’s for you. Best-selling author Amanda Ripley taps into years of investigative journalism for the insights in High Conflict. This is a leadership must-read if you are on the receiving end of the conflict—the target of anger and activism. Moreover, it is well-researched, exploring the individual and collective psychology of conflict — who gets captured by it and how to break free.


When we are baffled by the insanity of the “other side”—in our politics, at work, or at home — it’s because we aren’t seeing how the conflict itself has taken over.

That’s what “high conflict” does. It’s the invisible hand of our time. It’s what happens when discord distills into a good-versus-evil kind of feud, the kind with an us and a them. In this state, the brain behaves differently. We feel increasingly certain of our own superiority and, at the same time, more and more mystified by the other side.

The Communicating Principal — Trinette Marquis, APR

A 2021 national survey of school leaders reported principals felt ill-prepared for the pandemic demands of their jobs. Challenges were most notably in the area of communications: social media and crisis response. The Communicating Principal is a timely release from NSPRA’s and California’s most data-driven author, Trinette Marquis, APR, teamed up with Chicago-area school communications professional Natalie Nash.

The Communicating Principal: Practical Strategies for School Leaders, available from NSPRA, provides real-world stories and best-practice guidelines. The practical communication checklists help school leaders better understand and engage their community. “From social media and websites to crisis and internal messaging, this book shares systems and supports that make communicating easier and more effective. Every topic is covered from the lens of a principal — what you need, how it can be done quickly and inexpensively, and how to measure success so that it can be shared and replicated.”

And a few more from our friends.

Present Over Perfect — Shauna Niequist

Christy McGee, APR, says this book has a spiritual lens with valuable opportunities for reflection. “It really spoke to me during all this… stuff… we have going on. Plus, there’s an accompanying journal for it.”

Harry Potter Series: 20th Anniversary Celebration

Whatever your choice of non-fiction, be sure to get lost in a new adventure or an old favorite now and then. Sinking into a new world can be a welcome escape at the end of a long day. And remember, there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure; all reading is valuable!

Published on: January 12, 2022