Looking for a great summer read? Try these.
Summer is a time when mental space isn't at such a premium, schedules are more flexible, and there's time to pay attention to things outside of the normal day-to-day routine. Summer is also a great season to catch up on reading. To supplement your summer reading list, we gathered recommendations from folks on the Potential Project team. We asked for books that moved the needle for them personally, at work, and as leaders. From exploring kindness to essentialism, the simple breath, and our deceiving brains, there's a wide range of content to explore, and something for everyone. We hope you'll enjoy one—or many—of the titles on this list!
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
In Essentialism, Greg McKeown, CEO of a leadership and strategy agency in Silicon Valley who has run courses at Apple, Google and Facebook, shows you how to achieve what he calls the disciplined pursuit of less. Being an essentialist requires a disciplined way of thinking. It means challenging the core assumption of ‘We can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time'.
By applying a more selective criteria for what is essential, the pursuit of less allows us to regain control of our own choices so we can channel our time, energy and effort into making the highest possible contribution toward the goals and activities that matter.
“I like how it encourages the reader to concentrate on the ‘right’ things, rather than allowing our attention to be subjected to whatever onslaught of information hits our awareness. The core mantra of essentialism ‘less, but better’ enables us to better prioritize, focus, and execute with efficiency and impact. Lots of practical tips too!”
— Marissa Afton, Partner and Head of Global Accounts
The Kindness Revolution: How we can restore hope, rebuild trust and inspire optimism
Generous, erudite, optimistic and candid. Hugh Mackay encourages us to find the best in ourselves and in our society in both good and troubled times.
Following the ravages of 2020's bushfires and pandemic on our mental and emotional health and on the economy, Hugh Mackay reflects on the challenges we faced during that year of upheaval and the questions many of us have asked. What really matters to me? Am I living the kind of life I want? What sort of society do I want us to become?
“Hugh Mackay is an Australian social researcher and best-selling author of 20+books. This book fascinates me as it’s a call to action at the ground roots, individual level in troubled times to be more kind, compassionate, respectful, understanding, and inclusive.”
— Jenny Steadman, Acting Country Director, Australia
Useful Delusions: The Power & Paradox of the Self-Deceiving Brain
Self-deception does terrible harm to us, to our communities, and to the planet. But if it is so bad for us, why is it ubiquitous? In Useful Delusions, the authors argue that, paradoxically, self-deception can also play a vital role in our success and well-being.
Filled with powerful personal stories and drawing on new insights in psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy, Useful Delusions offers a fascinating tour of what it really means to be human.
"As a counterpoint to radical candor, I am intrigued by the concept of self-deception as a helpful and necessary approach to living life with hope. I am a big fan of Shankar Vedantam’s podcast, Hidden Brain, and am looking forward to digging into this book over my summer break."
— Paula Kelley, Global Marketing Director
How to Change: The Science of Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
Change comes most readily when you understand what’s standing between you and success and tailor your solution to that roadblock. If you want to work out more but find exercise difficult and boring, downloading a goal-setting app probably won’t help. But what if, instead, you transformed your workouts so they became a source of pleasure instead of a chore? Turning an uphill battle into a downhill one is the key to success.
Whether you’re a manager, coach, or teacher aiming to help others change for the better or are struggling to kick-start change yourself, How to Change offers an invaluable, science-based blueprint for achieving your goals, once and for all.
“We all want to change but having the new behaviors stick is not always straightforward. Katy Milkman’s research-backed analysis highlights frameworks and practical approaches to best engineer change within our lives by taking advantage of our natural ebb and flow of motivation.”
— Eileen Laillier, Client Solutions Lead
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art
No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are, none of it matters if you’re not breathing properly.
There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat twenty-five thousand times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences.
“Our breath is fundamental to our life and well-being, yet how much do we take it for granted? I’m looking forward to reading it as I understand it describes scientifically, insightfully, and captivatingly how we are wired, what we take for granted, and how small adjustments can make a powerful difference.”
— Jenny Steadman, Acting Country Director, Australia
The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Success
You’ll never see leadership the same way again after reading this book. These fifteen commitments are a distillation of decades of work with CEOs and other leaders. They are radical or provocative for many.
Conscious leadership offers the antidote to fear. These pages contain a comprehensive road map to guide you to shift from fear-based to trust-based leadership. Once you learn and start practicing conscious leadership you’ll get results in the form of more energy, clarity, focus and healthier relationships. You’ll do more and more of what you are passionate about, and less of what you do out of obligation. You’ll have more fun, be happier, experience less drama and be more on purpose.
"My absolute favorite book on leadership."
— Gesa Hauser, Client Solutions Lead
Heffernan argues that the biggest threats and dangers we face are the ones we don't see - not because they're secret or invisible, but because we're willfully blind. She examines the phenomenon and traces its imprint in our private and working lives, and within governments and organizations, and asks: What makes us prefer ignorance? What are we so afraid of? Why do some people see more than others? And how can we change?
“The author questions some completely contradictory and counter-productive leadership practices. A thought-provoking book!”
— Marut Bhardwaj, Global Partnerships Lead & Country Director, India
Leading by Nature: The process of becoming a regenerative leader
Now more than ever, organizations need to adapt to disruptive innovations and new ways of working while co-creating life-affirming futures for all. Today's new norm of unceasing transformation demands a new norm in leadership and organizational development. Leading by Nature goes right to the heart of this agile living-systems approach, informed by the regenerative systems in the natural world to inspire practices, tools and techniques that will help us lead organizations capable of transforming and thriving in a fast-emerging future.
“With the climate crisis and many of our existing socio-political systems breaking down, it requires leaders to go beyond resilience to creating a more regenerative world. This book provides insight into how leaders can rise to the challenge of regenerative leadership.”
— Moses Mohan, Partner and Global Head of Leadership Solutions