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It’s easy to get bogged down in our day-to-day lives, and reading elevates us above the daily grind. It can inspire us with stories of great accomplishments. It can give us new ideas. It allows us to step back and view the forest while day-to-day we only see a few trees.
Building anything of value as a leader takes time, and the process is typically challenging and messy.
Think of building a family. It takes almost 20 years to raise a child, and we only get a limited number of children to practice on. Older couples will say it takes a lifetime to build a successful marriage, and again, opportunities to practise are limited. However, by reading we can learn from the experiences of virtually unlimited numbers of successful parents and married couples.
The same applies to leading in business. We only have time to lead in a handful of business during our career, but by reading we can learn from the experiences of an unlimited number of leaders.
You may not be able to have lunch with Michael Hyatt, Andy Andrews, Dave Ramsey, Jim Collins, or Peter Drucker (especially because he’s passed on). But you can spend as much time with them as you want by reading material written by them.
I used to get frustrated with reading. I would read a lot of books, but I didn’t feel like I was retaining much of what I read. Michael Hyatt changed my outlook. In one of his podcasts, he mentioned that he doesn’t read with the intent of retaining much. He reads to spend time with smart people.
Without reading, our expertise will be limited to our direct experiences. We don’t experience life quickly, so our direct experience are limited.
Of course, book learning is not as good as hands-on experience, but it may open the door to opportunities for hands-on experience and make us more effective when we get the opportunity.
When thinking about reading for leaders, we normally think about non-fiction, such as leadership principles, self-improvement, biographies, etc. While I primarily read non-fiction, I believe it’s important to also read fiction.
Fiction reading provides an escape. It helps you mentally disengage from your circumstances, which facilitates rest and recovery. When you come back to real life, you can face your challenges with new ideas and renewed energy and focus.
If you want to be a leader, you must be a reader!
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