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Entrepreneur Paula Pyne said these 6 books helped her gain a new view on life and her career

For Paula Pyne, Founder of Uplift Consulting, this list of inspiring and motivational reads taught her about wisdom and compassion. That’s not just self-help talk—any business owner needs both to be successful.

BY PAULA PYNE | AS TOLD TO MELISSA BRAZIER


 

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Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., Feel the Fear…and Do It Anyway, 2006.

WHETHER IT’S ENDING A GO-NOWHERE RELATIONSHIP OR ASKING YOUR EMPLOYER FOR A MUCH-DESERVED RAISE, THIS GUIDE TO SELF-EMPOWERMENT SHOWS READERS HOW TO FACE FEARS AND SILENCE INNER NEGATIVITY.

In my mid-twenties, I had graduated from Trent University with a degree in psychology and was looking for work while living with my boyfriend in my hometown of Perth, Ontario. I was feeling very unsettled personally and professionally; in my relationship and my career, I was stuck. Then, my childhood best friend gave me this book and swore it would change my life. And it did.

Jeffers’s words gave me the confidence to break off my troublesome relationship and move from a town of 6,000 to one of the largest cities in Canada. I enrolled in a Human Resources Management post-graduate program at Humber College in Toronto. Little did I know that once I started the ball rolling, I’d be faced with even bigger changes in the years to follow. After graduating from the program, I took a yearlong internship at GM Canada making little-to-no money. But I did whatever it took to survive—I found a place that had dirt-cheap rent, cleaned houses on the side and used up the rest of my student loan. And whenever I felt afraid, I referred back to this book. I got hired after that internship, and would spend the next eight years working at GM, which included completing my MBA. The title of this book has become my mantra.

 

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Donna Farhi, Bringing Yoga to Life: The Everyday Practice of Enlightened Living, 2004.

WITH OVER 20 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE, YOGA TEACHER DONNA FARHI EXPLAINS THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE PRACTICE AND SHOWS HOW IT CAN BE A USEFUL DISCIPLINE FOR DAILY LIFE.

In September 2006, I took my mom on her first big trip. (She’d never been on a plane or even seen the ocean.) We travelled through the Rockies, then to the Pacific coast and found our way to Tofino, B.C., where we stayed at the Wickaninnish Inn. While I was there, I took one of the morning yoga classes, and got chatting with the teacher afterwards and she referred me to Donna Farhi’s books. I instantly fell in love with the writer’s voice; I was inspired and uplifted by her words.

This book had an impact not only on how I approached my practice on the mat, but more so how I was showing up in my life day-to-day. It also affected my business.

After launching my company, Uplift Consulting, in 2010, I began to put a lot of pressure on myself in regards to how I was measuring up and whether or not I was moving fast enough. When I read this book, everything changed. I realized the importance of appreciating the richness of each step and celebrating along the path to building something great. As Farhi says, “We seldom acknowledge in our ourselves, or recognize in others, the halting and painful steps that lie behind the smallest changes. Neither do we appreciate that these incremental steps may be leading to something much bigger.” Yoga has helped me bring my own leadership, voice and empowerment to the forefront.

 

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Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, 1992.

A GUIDE TO TAKING THE SITUATIONS THAT CAUSE PRESSURE AND STRESS AND TRANSFORMING THEM INTO POSITIVE EXPERIENCES. THE GOAL: TO HELP READERS STRIVE FOR INNER PEACE AND PEACE IN THE WORLD AROUND THEM.

In 2007 I met an old colleague from GM for coffee at Starbucks and he gave me this book. It was perfect timing since I was just beginning a practice of mindfulness, as I was in the middle of my yoga-teacher training. This book became like a warm blanket for me. And since then it has had a permanent place on my nightstand and has also travelled with me, from Australia to New Zealand and to Thailand. It makes me reflect on the present moment, like how even washing the dishes can be peaceful.

Connecting with what seems so simple changed my outlook on life; I now appreciate peaceful moments and the richness they bring.

Practicing mindfulness, as guided by Hanh, led to greater clarity and intuition, and when I come from an intuitive place, especially when I’m helping other women through my work, it’s very nurturing and supportive.

I recommend this book to everyone, more specifically women. Hanh’s teachings are about healing and self-compassion. As women, these qualities are natural to us, but because we are so busy, we lose touch with these extremely important internal resources.

 

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Lynne Twist and Teresa Barker, The Soul of Money: Reclaiming the Wealth of our Inner Resources, 2006.

THIS BOOK LOOKS AT HOW OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MONEY IS DIRECTLY RELATED TO OUR VALUES. A GLOBAL ACTIVIST WHO HAS RAISED MORE THAN $150 MILLION FOR VARIOUS CHARITIES AND CAUSES, TWIST DETAILS HER EXPERIENCES IN MEETING THE MOST WEALTHY AND MOST IMPOVERISHED PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD.

I came across this while wandering through a spiritual store this past December. I was very interested in visiting my money practices—where I was spending money, on what and how much, how I was investing and giving back. I had been doing this, but Twist’s narrative framed it in a way that placed greater focus and attention on it. I really reflected on her idea of sufficiency versus scarcity.

As Twist writes, “Could it be that the key to turning around a runaway, unsustainable economy, culture and almost frightening time in the evolution of civilization is in the confronting and embracing of the surprising truth that there is enough, we have enough, we are enough.” It reminds me to show up just the way I am, my authentic self—and if that’s raw and vulnerable, it’s okay and it’s enough.
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Jon J. Muth, Zen Shorts, 2005.

THIS CHILDREN’S BOOK, ILLUSTRATED AND WRITTEN BY THE BEST-SELLING AUTHOR OF THE THREE QUESTIONS, TAKES YOU ON A JOURNEY THROUGH THE TALES OF A GIANT PANDA NAMED STILLWATER. IT URGES US TO SEE THE WORLD IN NEW WAYS.

After working with dear clients for three or four months, they gave me this book with a note written on the inside cover that read, “Paula, thanks for all the clarity and wisdom.” Anytime I pick up this book, I feel like I’m nurturing my inner child. It’s fun, enlightening and soothing, all wrapped into one.

The three ancient Zen tales in this book are about compassion and generosity, the what if ’s in life and carrying a heavy load, namely anger. When things go array, Muth’s book serves as a tool to reflect. As women, we tend to “carry a heavy load” and these short, impactful stories offer a little time-out to appreciate the Zen in life when things get hectic. Plus, when we quiet are minds, things may not appear as they seem to be.
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Angeles Arrien, Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life, 2011.

THROUGH A COLLECTION OF STORIES, PRAYERS AND PRACTICES FROM VARIOUS CULTURES AROUND THE WORLD, THIS SELF-HELP BOOK CHALLENGES READERS TO MAKE GRATITUDE THE FOUNDATION OF THEIR DAILY LIVES FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. ARRIEN SHOWS READERS HOW TO REMOVE OBSTACLES, SUCH AS ANGER, ARROGANCE AND JEALOUSY, TO REDISCOVER THE TRUE MEANING OF LOVE AND HAPPINESS.

I discovered this book just before ringing in the New Year of 2012. I had been keeping a daily gratitude journal for years, but felt I needed a guide that could take my practice to the next level. Well, it did much more than that; it was a year filled with insight and inspiration, and I wrote about a lot of my experiences on my blog.

I read this book at a time of personal spiritual transition, where I had a desire to go deeper and live a life that was truly full. My business was also experiencing a growth spurt and after an eventful period like this, it was important for me to take time, and pause and bask in these moments. Arrien references the importance of daily rest and renewal, so I made a choice to allow myself periods where I checkout to refuel. I come back stronger, lighter and filled with new perspectives and ideas.