Leaders are Readers
Reading can be a powerful catalyst for thinking; it has the potential for stimulating wisdom.
A long while ago, I heard someone say, “Leaders are readers.” It made a big impression on me, and I never forgot it. I don’t know who coined the phrase, but I must have reiterated it to my kids hundreds of times. They would usually groan and roll their eyes. I doubted that they really got it.
But a few years ago, my son in the Marine Corps shared with me the long list of books he was planning to read on his upcoming deploy-ment to the Far East and Africa. He told me he was on a “life-long quest for knowledge.” He said, “Dad, I remember what you used to say, ‘leaders are readers’”.
I just stood there beaming. They really had heard me after all. Thankfully, most of my children are avid readers. I hope that my own example of reading constantly and my lessons on how “leaders are readers” made a difference.
Of course, it doesn’t follow that all readers are leaders, but I think we can safely say with little exception, all leaders are readers.
If that’s true, then why don’t more people read?
I’ve learned that only ten percent of the people who begin reading a nonfiction book ever get beyond the first chapter. It’s been shown that people’s earnings are in direct proportion to their vocabularies. That is, those who have larger vocabularies have greater respons-ibility and earn the most money—with very few exceptions. I know for sure that most people want to earn more money, so why is it that they don’t study more?
In 1987, I was selling advertising for a business magazine I published, and the upcoming issue focused on education (mostly adult education). I called on a local businessman and told him about the issue’s focus, hoping to interest him in its wide appeal and convince him it was a good investment of his advertising dollars. He told me that he had already graduated from school, his education was over and that he had no interest in education whatsoever.
I was dumbfounded. I think I could have comprehended someone thinking that—but to actually admit it? A better salesman might have tried a different tack, but I was so flabbergasted I just folded up my
things and left, shaking my head. Unfortunately, that attitude is far more common than I realized.
Abraham Lincoln used to walk miles to borrow and return books. He read them by candlelight after working long, hard days. Do you think his reverence and devotion to books made a difference in his ability as a leader of our troubled nation? I do.
The good news is that people are reading more than they used to. Just look at the book stores and the vast number of books that are displayed on their shelves. Somebody’s buying them! I’m encouraged by this. However, it’s not enough.
I cannot go into a bookstore without buying a book. My personal library is my most valued material possession, and I take pride in adding to it regularly. I have over 500 nonfiction books. I’ve even read most of them. This should be true for any serious student of success.
If you’re committed to be all that you are capable of being, I implore you to become a voracious reader. A book a month will keep you even. A book a year and you’re falling behind.
It takes effort, but it’s worth it. If you like to read—great—have at it. If you don’t like reading—great—have at it. It’s just something you have to do.
Develop the habit of reading something every day. You will start to enjoy it. You’ll look forward to it, your thinking will sharpen, your vocabulary will increase, and you’ll become a more interesting person.
Remember, leaders are readers.
Michael Angier is founder and CIO (Chief Inspiration Officer) of SuccessNet--a support network helping people and businesses grow and prosper. For a free subscription to "SuccessNet Strategies" along with you free copy of "10 Keys to Personal Effectiveness" go to http://SuccessNet.org