All Leaders Are Readers
All leaders are readers but all readers are not leaders. That is a key distinct difference that was shared with me early in my professional career.
I was a student who prided myself on not reading the assigned books in high school. I read the SparkNotes, listened to group discussions, and knew enough to get by. The knowledge, themes, and lessons from these stories didn't permeate my mind.
Early in my career a business mentor gave me books that changed my life. Now 500+ reads later, books have played a pivotal role in shaping my leadership journey.
However, 33% of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives and 42% of college graduates never read another book after college. (Jenkins Group)
I encourage you not to be a part of this statistic. Books are tools to improve your life, escape from reality, gain free knowledge (libraries are just waiting for you), and potentially get that promotion.
Books That Influenced Me
The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz was the first book put in my hands by a business coach when I was in my early 20's. This book changed my life. The main lesson of the book is to think big. Create big, wild goals and go after them. This book shifted my thinking and led me to creating huge goals in my 20s that I have now met. Now I get to create new big, wild goals.
I'm currently listening to the audiobook 10x Is Easier Than 2x by Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan. They explain that it's easier to have 10x goals, aka wild, crazy, almost impossible goals, which is very contrary to the SMART goal method. In this book, the authors reference The Magic of Thinking Big where David J. Schwartz talked about how he got far fewer applications for a job that paid $100,000 than a job that paid $10,000. It's less crowded going crazy. If you don't hit these big, crazy, 10x goals you're still better off than 2x cause there's a lot of paths to 2x. 10x goals actually move the needle.
Another favorite book of mine is The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. This book also changed the life of Mr. Alright Alright Alright himself, Matthew McConaughey.
“The book’s a kind of philosophy on life. I started reading it right before I was due to take my exams for law school and I got so engrossed in it that I was almost late for my exam! But it was well worth it because that book changed my outlook on life and gave me the courage I needed to chase my dream of applying to film school.” - Matthew McConaughey
The Greatest Salesman in the World emphasizes the power of habits, teaches to approach each day with love and kindness, encourages readers to persevere in the face of challenges, highlights the uniqueness within each individual, recognizes the importance of living with purpose, and suggests that laughter and a positive attitude can help overcome any challenge.
A huge game changer for my introverted self was the book How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger. I read this book during my third year of college while running my side hustle. In fact, I got so good at selling, as well as other skills from books I've read, that it baffles people when I say I'm an introvert.
Cultivating a Reading Habit
Reading books can help you pass the time or escape from life. They can also do more than a college degree or MBA for business professionals. They are often the key to promotions when you read, understand the material, and apply the concepts in your life.
So, how do you find the time to read? Maybe you work 80 hours a week. Or maybe you immediately switch out your professional hat for a parenting hat when you leave the office. No matter your situation in life, you can create a daily reading habit that will lead to more knowledge gained and lessons learned even from just reading for 10 minutes a day.
Step one is to find time in your day to read. Before you say I have absolutely no free time, check the screen time on your phone. If you spend 10+ minutes a day scrolling social media, playing a game, reading the news, or watching TV then you have time to read. You simply need to re-prioritize a few things to make reading happen.
Carve out that 10 or 15 minutes where you can shut out the rest of the world and pick up a book. This can be on your lunch break, early in the morning before the family wakes up, or in the evening instead of grabbing the remote control.
Set a clear and achievable reading goal. Whether it's a certain number of pages or a specific amount of time each day, having a goal can give you a sense of purpose. When you sit down to read, you know you aren't getting distracted until you read that number of pages or for a specific amount of time. Sit your phone in a different room if you need to. Tell the kids Mom or Dad needs 15 minutes to accomplish a task. Do what you need to do in order to achieve this reading goal just like you would a serious deadline for work.
Audiobooks are another fantastic way to consume more literature. You can turn on an audiobook during your commute, while getting ready in the morning, when you're cooking dinner, or late in the evening when you just want to relax and don't have the brain capacity to physically read, you can just listen.
Audiobooks are available on Audible, Libro.fm, and Scribd for a fee. You can also download audiobooks and e-books from your local library through digital services like Libby, Overdrive, and Hoopla. These books are free and can be checked out without ever leaving your house for a few weeks.
Choose material that interests you. Whether it's fiction, non-fiction, self-help, biographies, or any other genre, select books or articles that capture your attention. Enjoying what you read will make it easier to stick to your reading habit. And, if you aren't connecting to a book or feel you aren't gaining anything valuable from the read, DNF (Do Not Finish) it. When you have a limited amount of time to dedicate to reading, use that time to read material you love or that you learn a lot from. You do not have to finish every book you start.
A John C. Maxwell idea that has stuck with me and made a difference in my life is the following. Some people use the excuse that they cannot read a book to completion. Well guess what... You don't have to! There's no pop quiz at the end. When you're reading non-fiction, the overall story does not matter. You can check out the table of contents, pick out a few concepts/chapters that interest you, read those chapters, and call it a day. The pop quiz is the results in your life.
Finally, create a reading-friendly environment. This is a habit you want to stick to. So create a cozy and inviting space with good lighting where you can curl up with your book away from distractions.
Remember that the key to cultivating a daily reading habit is consistency and enjoyment. The more you read, the more you'll come to appreciate the benefits of this habit.
Leave a comment with a book that changed your life and the lessons you learned from the read.
Make sure to follow me on Instagram where I'm sharing reviews of the life-changing books I've read!
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