If you love  lists, December is a fun month to browse the internet. These lists usually take one of two forms: You're looking back on the previous year or eyeing the horizon for the year to come. 

Some of the lists in the rearview mirror are autopsies. Here's what went wrong or the biggest flame outs.

The lists for the coming year are different. For most of us, the future holds nothing but hope. Next year will be our best.

Here's my list of the first six books you should read in 2018. I've read them all. You may have read a few too--that's why I have a backup plan for each book.

Here's your book list:

1. Extreme Ownership--How US Navy SEALS Lead and Win

By Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

This book, written by two retired Navy SEALS, distills leadership and performance lessons learned in the SEAL Teams and tested on the gnarliest battlefields of Iraq. Written in a no-nonsense tone, Willink and Babin are careful to relate these harrowing SEAL experiences to real-world applications.

If you're an entrepreneur, or just a human, the lessons on owning every part of your sphere are enough to pick this one up. And to all young leaders, remember this phrase, "There are no bad teams, only bad leaders." Face it, we could all use a little Navy SEAL in our 2018.

If you've already read that, read this:

The Way of the Warrior Kid : From Wimpy to Warrior the Navy SEAL Way

By Jocko Willink

This is the kid's version of Extreme Ownership. But don't let that fool you! It's a great read that's chock-full with lessons for individuals, leaders and parents.

2. The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action

By Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton 

Don't let the academia resumes fool you. These two Stanford professors deliver both ideas and systems to break down performance barriers in individuals and companies.

The book can be dense, but it's a worthy read to help you focus on getting the right things done in 2018. Have you been to or held a useless meeting lately? Pay very close attention to the chapter titled "When Talk Substitutes for Action".

If you've already read that, read this:

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap, and Others Don't

By Jim Collins

Collins' soaring, well researched classic is a must read. Maybe a must re-read.

3. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

By Eric Ries

This is another must-read, especially if you're in startup mode. Ries' personal stories of failure leading to success are worth the price tag. There might not be a better product innovation framework than his Minimum Viable Product for us to learn.

If you've already read that, read this:

Rework

By Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Like The Lean Startup, this book was written by real operators. Fried and Hansson bring to light their stories from the trenches as the founders of 37 Signals in an easy-to-digest style. If you've been curious or confused on how or when to hire as a startup, be sure to read chapter nine, "Hire when it hurts."

4. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

By Cheryl Strayed

This one's a curveball. Strayed's memoir delivers a real perspective check as she weaves gut-wrenching stories from her youth with a tale of re-birth on her months long, mostly solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Some of her quips are quotable, bulletin board-worthy nuggets of inspiration.

Many entrepreneurs reach points on the journey where the challenges seem too much to overcome. Walk this path with Strayed and you'll know what the human spirit is capable of. Read the book prior to checking out the movie.

If you've already read that, read this:

Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival

By Joe Simpson

Just read this story. After you've finished, try and convince yourself that your challenges are tough.

5. Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue

By Nick Mehta, Dan Steinman, Lincoln Murphy

Even if you're not in a recurring-revenue business, the stories and approach to clients presented in this effort are worth exploring, distilling, and adopting. The core principle is this: Play a part in the success of your customers and they will be fans. That idea alone is worth the read.

If you've already read that, read this:

From Impossible to Inevitable: How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue

By Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin

Chapter after chapter, this business building blueprint delivers real systems and approaches for business builders to follow.

6. About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior

By Colonel David Hackworth and Julie Sherman

Simply one of the best, if not the best, books on leadership of all time. It's almost 900 pages, but you'll want more. I read this almost 15 years ago, and re-read it each year to remind myself: Despite all of the new ideas on business building and leadership, some principles never change.

During his 25 year military career, Colonel Hackworth earned 111 medals. You can learn a lot from him.

If you've already read that, read this:

About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior

By Colonel David Hackworth and Julie Sherman

Read it again.

Bring on 2018.

Published on: Dec 16, 2017