Summertime… and the reading is easy. Let’s take a bit of creative license in recasting Louie Armstrong’s famous song to make a point. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been asked about or noticed multiple social media messages asking for summer book recommendations. While the days are longer and our energy levels are higher, it’s a perfect time to kick reading into overdrive.
If we’ve worked together, you know I’m fanatical about cognitive development – reading, journaling, podcasts and TedTalks, are among some of the top resources. Incorporating behavioral activities into development plans is necessary to create new habits and competencies. However, it’s reading and other cognitive tools that provide much of the catalyst and reinforcement for awareness as well as subsequent and sustainable change.
The practice is proven – more reading translates into better leading. Think of the most effective leaders you know. They may have many characteristics in common. One of these is unarguable -they are all avid readers. Steve Jobs and Phil Knight consumed multiple books weekly. Most are surprised when considering Winston Churchill’s Nobel Prize was for literature, not peace.
Why read more?
According to research at The University of Sussex, reading for just 6 minutes a day reduces stress 68% by freeing our minds.
Reading broadens perspective and critical thinking by introducing multiple approaches to addressing problems.
When our minds are expanded beyond ourselves and personal situations, it can increase our empathy and self-awareness.
Innovative thinking comes more naturally and intelligence increases.
Vocabulary and communication skills are strengthened dramatically.
How can you increase your reading?
Ask others you know what books they’ve read that made a difference for them. This can often be a strong motivator.
Create a book club within your team. It can spark debate and create a common language, in addition to being an accountability tool.
Come to terms with the practice of reading during the workday as an investment in yourself. If you’re reading development material to improve your business or effectiveness, it belongs on your work calendar. One of the push backs I often hear is, “I’m too tired to read at night.” Then don’t. Instead, make it a welcome and needed 15–30-minute reprieve from the busyness of your day.
Let go of the self-limiting belief you’ve learned or heard it all. Seasoned leaders often say they’ve got a huge library or have read all the “great books.” There are multiple business and leadership books born daily. If you’re still leading, keep reading. In addition to the personal benefits, your team needs to know you’re constantly stretching and growing as a role model.
·Reread books you’ve read in the past. If a book you’ve already read resurfaces in discussions, there’s likely a reason it’s showing up again. This time it will go faster. There will be untapped teachable moments available to you based on where you are now vs. where you were the last time you read it. I’ve watched THE POWER OF VULNERABILITY 14.65 times and learn something new each time!
In the words of Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker, “Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” In today’s market, there’s no sustainable space for ordinary. If you want to be at your best for yourself and your organization, it’s time to start turning, learning, and leading through the pages of a good book.