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“Mummy?,” My 8 year old, the youngest child of the family, called out to me bearing curious eyes….“Why do you like reading self-help books? Does it mean there’s something wrong with you?” I was quite taken aback, not expecting my little vocal debater to ask me something like that. This was back in 2012 and I had been reading ‘The 7 habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey. Naturally, I assured her that there was nothing wrong with Mummy and that these books could teach you a lot of good skills. Unfortunately, this view is held by many adults – Not knowing that they miss out on some key skills and lessons that can be gained from reading widely.

I have always been an optimist, believing that the glass is ‘half-full’ and giving people the benefit of doubt until they give me a reason to believe otherwise. In my opinion, developmental books are a critical tool that any leader needs to have in their arsenal as they navigate through their challenging roles.

In my day-to-day work, I face so many obstacles and hurdles that completely drain me. I equally have so many highs and successes that when you sum it all up, it makes for an interesting rollercoaster! In one day, it’s possible to go through feelings of accomplishment, rejection, and frustration – and that is just before mid-day! Dealing with so many diverse issues – ranging from employee motivation, competitor screening, Boardroom dynamics and company brand management – is something that I must contend with daily. 

My professional life has so many facets; wearing many hats as a Non-Executive and Executive Director for various institutions. At all times, I am expected to perform at my best, whether I feel like it or not, I therefore need to bring my ‘A game’ to everything that I oversee.

Apart from having a strong support system in my personal life that include family, mentors, and friends who I can call when the chips are down – I always have my backup self-help library to help refuel and recharge my batteries. I have a personal library which has notable authors such as Robin Sharma, John Maxwell, Stephen Covey and Miles Munroe. I also read a lot of biographies for interesting personalities, both local and international, with my most recent one being on our current second-in-command called ‘Inonge Wina – The First Female Vice President’ by Franklin Tembo Senior. For me, each of the books I read helps me get a different perspective on life, depending on where my head space is.

In 2017, when I was given the honour of heading ZSIClife, a very close friend of mine sent me a book by Michael D Watkins entitled ‘The First 90 Days – Proven Strategies for getting up to speed faster and smarter,’ – which was a great read and helped align my thought process as I set about to tackle the enormous task that was ahead of me. This book is not to be mistaken by our local book called ‘The First 90 Days After Losing Your Job.’ A brilliant book done by my good friend James Kapesa.

In 2020, I was hit by a couple of personal losses and found myself reading ‘Option B’ by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.

2021 is a year of restoration. We’re all trying to find some optimism amidst the COVID-19 pandemic effects. I decided to start the year off with a re-read of ‘The 5 am Club’ by Robin Sharma. There is a book for every season!

Technology has made our reading choices varied. I regularly rely on my active subscriptions to Scribd and Spotify and purchase e-books through the Kindle app on my tablet. With so many audio books, podcasts and e-books to choose from – I am thoroughly spoiled for choice. I even get book recommendations from my children now that they’re all grown up.

Reading helps keep me energized and motivated to keep pushing and improving my skills.

And above all else, I am a Christian and I firmly believe that God has my back the Bible is my ultimate self-help book.


Christabel Michel Banda (MBA,FCCA, FZICA,ACII,FIIZA, CFAM)


Insurers Association of Zambia President (2020 -2022)

Board Chairperson – National Road Fund Agency


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