This week's posts will be dedicated to the importance of making a habit of reading and learning.
I once worked with a man in his early fifties who was SHOCKED when he found out that I have read 20 - 25 books a year since I was twenty-five years old (I will turn forty in 2006). I told him that although I had not been a particularly attentive student in high school or college, I later discovered the importance of learning.
He claimed that it would be impossible for me to read that much, since I had a successful career and was obviously very active with my family. I told him that I wake up early every morning to fit in 30 minutes of reading, and on the weekends I find a hour where I can curl up and get lost in a book. I read mostly business, marketing and sales books, but about one in four books is a novel, biography or spiritual topic.
His response: "I have not read 20 - 25 books in my lifetime". I was not surprised. While he was very good at his job, he did not usually express that he had a well rounded view of the business world.
So why do I recommend everyone devote daily time to reading books? The more you read, the wider the variety of ideas encounter. Nobody is smart enough to know how to react in every situation we encounter in our business and personal lives. Since people tend to learn from experiences, it makes it much easier to learn from others.
I also find that if you read the "best-sellers" that it gives you a lot to talk about in your networking situations. People often discuss the themes from books they read. If you have not read the book, you have nothing to add to the conversation. Additionally, if you know what topics others are interested in, referring a book (or buying them a copy) is a great gift to give another person.
Never claim you do not have the time to read. If you travel for business, airplane trips are an ideal time to read a book. Wake up early. Lunch hour. And lets not forget your commute (those who take the train, don't just sit there, read), book on tape are a good substitute for reading. (I know, the morning drive DJ's on the radio are funny....but make the time productive!!!).
Set a goal for 2006 on the number of books you will read. Start small. Ten is a good target (my book could be one, it is only 100 pages!!!). If you were to read ten books a year that would be fifty books in five years. If you have read fifty books, and the competition has read zero, who do you think will be the most competitive in business? Or, you can be the guy who does not read and learn. Your choice.
Have A Great Day.