How to flourish in the twists and turns of 2023.

I read a lot of books in 2022. Some great works of fiction. Others were airport books. Others still, thought-provoking insights into philosophy, psychology and high performance. But, I have a long-standing trap that I set myself when it comes to reading books that are meant to help me improve an aspect of my life (of which there are many!) Until a couple of years ago, I tended to read, enjoy, even scribble an occasional marginal note. Then I’d be back at the bookstore – real or digital – seeking the next source of inspiration.

More reading followed.

But change? Not so much.

A couple of years ago I decided enough was enough and that my bookshelves shouldn’t be burdened with more ‘once and done’ texts. My approach to reading needed a shake up. I’ve written elsewhere about the changes I made but what of the results of shifting my reading style?

  • Deeper understanding.
  • More sustained change.
  • And yes, a slower rate of book completion.

Reading to learn. Learning to change.

Three books that I read in 2022 which each contained insights I have found critical and that I think will stand busy leaders in good stead for the inevitable challenges of 2023 are shared below. If you read them, I’d love to know what you picked out as key learning. If you had other books that moved you to change, do share those too … I love to add new books to add to my wish list!

  1. Stillness is the key by Ryan Holiday.

I empathise with busy leaders who may eye-roll at the thought of being prescribed being still, when their worlds require speed of execution. “I’ll meditate when I retire,” I hear you say.

But actually the biggest take away from this book by Ryan Holiday, which is anchored in the philosophy of the Stoics, was actually just a simple suggestion to create the occasional 10 or 15 minute blocks, during the day simply to stop. Stop talking, stop planning, stop being on Zoom/Teams, stop thinking. A quick way to break the busy-ness trap.

2. Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Wow! This book not only shifted my perspective on how I look at people, it gave me a gentle, wholly self-imposed and justified, telling-off for being so Western-world centric.

Eye-opening, hopeful and educational Factfulness is wonderfully written by Hans Rosling, and is likely to prove important for you in how you construct and execute your future business strategies.

I hope you will enjoy these books and most importantly perhaps, put them into action for yourself to benefit from.

3. The Experience Economy by Joseph Pine II & James H Gilmore.

A mentor of mine recently suggested that instead of reading 12 business books a year that I read the same book 12 times. I love that kind of counter-intuitive thinking. And so, I thought I’d give it a try. But I do get bored quickly, so the book I chose was going to have to be one that I was confident had a number of layers to it and also was directly applicable to our work.

It proved a no-brainer, with those criteria in mind, to choose the updated version of Pine and Gilmore’s classic, The Experience Economy. If you serve customers, internal or external, you will find this book has so much valuable information about how you need to look at the experiences you are providing them. Business is theatre after all. Brilliant!