You are special (and so is this email)

This special end-of-year edition of What Matters Most features the articles, books, and podcasts that we tend to continually revisit and reference in our personal and professional lives. We hope you find them as valuable and enjoyable as we do.

Happy holidays from your friends at BILD.

Solitude and leadership

"Every year we’re asked to offer the most impactful or important articles and books from the prior year, and every year I come back to this article (transcript, actually) by William Deresiewicz." —Neil

We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place. What we don’t have are leaders.

The American Scholar • 29 minutes

Micro habit stacking: 25 small changes to improve your life

"This article was one of our most read WMM articles for three weeks running. Needless to say, there's some great, actionable content here if you're looking for inspiration to kickstart new habits in the new year." —Ashton

Building better habits is hard, especially in the beginning. A great system can give your willpower a break, so you can focus on repeatable behaviours that deliver results... Better systems applied well will make your habits automatic over time.

Medium • 5 Minutes

Hunter S. Thompson’s letter on finding your purpose and living a meaningful life

"I’m not a devotee of Thompson or gonzo journalism, but the letter he sent to a friend at age 22 really struck me. It is filled with introspection and wisdom and verbal gems." —Jeff

So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

Farnam Street • 8 minutes

A leadership parable

"Short, yet containing some powerful truths, I love this parable and the deep thinking it inspires. It is a constant reminder to me that at any time, in any place, it takes only one person to start to create change." —Sarah

This short but compelling read explores how we can, and should, respond when we face unexpected problems.  

Rolheiser • 2 minutes

A few of our favorite things

The Paradox of Choice (by Barry Schwartz)

"This book is almost 20 years old, but it resonates even more deeply as our society continues to accelerate. It is a fairly heady topic that is well researched, but choice overload is a modern problem we all face and this book offers practical insights on how to manage it." —Jeff

Raising a Secure Child (by Kent Hoffman, Glen Cooper, and Bert Powell)

"On the surface a parenting book, the principles of attachment provide a powerful lens through which to understand ourselves and the people around us. I have been recommending this book to anyone and everyone who will listen, and especially to those who lead teams. One of the primary roles of a leader is to create a space where people can thrive, which means managing your own attachment style and becoming aware of the styles of others. I consider this is a must read for those wanting to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and those they’re in relationship with." —Sarah

The Infinite Game (by Simon Sinek)

"Sinek unpacks one of the true challenges of our time: what drives long-standing successful businesses to think and operate in different ways? They’re playing a totally different game." —Neil

ESG now: ESG Trends to Watch for 2023 (MSCI)

"This podcast has long been a favorite of mine. It’s an easy listen that dives into current events with an ESG lens and commentary from specialists to make complex issues approachable." —Ashton