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Daily Leadership Thought #168 – Reading IS Fundamental

July 7, 2011

Free A Man Reading the Newspaper Stock Photo

What are you reading?

The number of professionals I meet who say they have no time to read often surprises me.  I cannot imagine a life where reading was not a big part of my routine.  It doesn’t matter if it’s for business or pleasure – reading expands the mind.  It allows your imagination to wander and lets your brain recharge.   Reading often introduces you to new information and perspectives you wouldn’t have come across otherwise.  Your vocabulary grows when you read and your own ability to communicate improves.  There is no downside to time spent reading, but you are at a disadvantage in life if you are not well read.

Every professional should allocate some time to reading journals and other publications focused on their industry or field of expertise.  It doesn’t have to be an inordinate amount of time.  Just a few articles per week can be sufficient.  It is also important to stay on top of current events and world news because none of us lives in a vacuum and we need to know what is going on.  Unfortunately, TV news has been so dumbed down and sensationalized these days that you need to look at well-respected newspapers and magazines to get any real information worth knowing.  It is also becoming increasingly difficult to get an objective opinion when you turn on the radio or television. Be wary of only listening to sources of information that simply validate your current point of view!

Reading good books of fiction and poetry is equally important to personal development.  I regularly revisit some of the classic pieces of literature because they offer insight and perspective on the human condition that is timeless.  It was one thing to be forced to do this when we were young in school.  It is quite another experience to read these books as adults and by choice.   I also enjoy discovering new authors who have a different take on things and bring their own artistic viewpoint to current events or past historical periods.

Reading should not be viewed as work.  If it doesn’t come naturally, you should start small and don’t push yourself too hard.  The good news is that your reading capability will develop like a muscle, and it will only get easier with practice and time.  In addition, reading doesn’t need to be expensive.  Your local library, discount/used bookstores, and the internet abound with many different options to suit about every interest.  There really isn’t any good excuse not to read.  Sadly, if you don’t read, your brain and mind will atrophy, and you will fall behind.  Your life will end up being harder than it needs to be because of what you don’t know.