At Potential Squared, we are all big believers in lifelong learning. It promotes creativity, new perspectives, and it fires up brain cells. Where better to catch up with the zeitgeist and make New Year’s Resolutions than during the Christmas holidays, where you can relax and soak up pages of inspiration. If you’re looking for a place to start, feel free to borrow from my list of must-reads.

1. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way Your Lead Forever

With endorsements by leading life coaches David Allen and Dan Pink, as well as prestigious leaders and managers all over the world, Bungay Stanier’s The Coaching Habit testifies that by saying less and asking more anyone can develop top level coaching skills. Combining research based in neuroscience and behavioural economics alongside interactive training tools, Bungay Stanier has developed seven simple questions that revolutionise the art of asking.

2. Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Building Leaders by Breaking the Rules

David Marquet, an experienced Navy officer, had a lightbulb moment which led to this book. He was the captain of a nuclear-powered submarine and gave his crew of several hundred an impossible task. Witnessing the crew’s submission, Marquet decided to place leadership control into the hands of every sailor. In doing so, he found incredible results. Turn the Ship Around! documents how he challenged the U.S. Navy's leader-follower approach, making everyone responsible for their own actions and career journey. An easy to read story, Marquet’s book offers practical advice that anyone can follow.

3. The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action

These authors want less talk, more action. Stanford professors Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton are concerned with procrastination and practicality. In The Knowing-Doing Gap they pose the question: “Why is it that, at the end of so many books and seminars, leaders report being enlightened and wiser, but not much happens in their organisations?” Delivering more output with their acumen, their bold approach warns readers of the “smart talk trap” and how to avoid it.

4. Black Box Thinking: The Surprising Truth About Success

Admitting and accepting failure is one thing, learning from your mistakes is another. In his book Black Box Thinking, Matthew Syed urges us to look inward and get to grips with how we respond to criticism and move forward. Syed uses case studies from all walks of life such as David Beckham, Drew Houston, Michael Jordan, Unilever and Google. He proves that we can choose to use failure as a valuable tool for growth and - more often than not - future success.

5. The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses

To avoid wasting resources, and to design of the perfect product as quickly as possible, this author believes that entrepreneurs need to employ thorough planning and evaluation skills. The emphasis of Ries’ thinking is that by applying a rigorous process to product development, based on a “build - measure - learn feedback loop” the product is honed to its ultimate state. Embracing the freedom to fail early and often, The Lean Startup proves that experimentation provides value to any organisation that wants to remain relevant in a constantly changing world.

All of these books have one thing in common – they deal in truth. Honesty is imperative in order to face fears, facts and the future ahead. And it’s the first step towards personal and business improvement. So, before you ring in the New Year, take the time to unwind, read well and read smart.