Nearly every company has one. Sometimes there’s only one member. I’m talking about the He-Man Book Hater’s Club. Don’t let the name fool you, women often belong to the club as well.
Here’s how to recognize a member:
- Whenever the boss talks about the latest book he/she is reading, they roll their eyes (behind the boss’ back, of course)
- Whenever there is an effort to improve the organization, they blame the latest book the boss is reading.
- They think reading is not real work.
- They rarely come up with fresh ideas and are quick to play “devil’s advocate” on anything new.
- They surf Facebook for hours and say they don’t have time to read.
Oh, and they’re usually stuck in jobs they don’t really like and wonder why they just can’t seem to get ahead.
Leaders Are Readers (and vice-versa)
One of the most common traits of high performers and leaders is that they read. They read to improve their skills. They read to get inspired. They read to stimulate creativity. They read to learn what they don’t know. They read to learn what they currently don’t even know that they don’t know (you might have to read that last sentence a few times and let it sink in).
Uber-successful companies like Zappos, The Lampo Group (Dave Ramsey‘s company), and others encourage reading through free books, book clubs, and even “required reading” for all employees. Check out this list on Amazon of books that Zappos recommends to it’s employees, customers, visitors, and the world.
Every thought-leader, guru, or expert in any industry is an avid reader, I guarantee it.
Excuses, Excuses, Excuses
I didn’t always read as much as I do now because I came up with excuses like:
- I don’t enjoy reading.
- I don’t have time to read.
- I can’t find anything to read.
- I don’t have money to buy books (you do know how lame this sounds, right, since we have an amazing library system in America).
How To Become A World-Class Reader
Here are 10 tips to help you eliminate your excuses, read more, enjoy it more, and get more out of it:
- Read books you like. That doesn’t mean read easy books, it means read books that resonate with you. You’re more likely to stick with them all the way through.
- Walk away from books you don’t like. If you don’t like a book, or you’re struggling to read it, you’re better off putting it away and finding a book that engages you. It’s ok to not finish a book. Really.
- Read one book at a time. “Multi-booking” slows your reading down more than you know and pulls your attention and focus in too many directions.
- Read a little bit each day. Drop the notion that to be a good reader you have to do it for hours at a time. 15 minutes is better than 0 minutes.
- Read at the same time each day. Make it a ritual. Maybe when you get up, or at lunch, or when you go to bed. Try different times to see when you read the best before you decide on a time.
- Highlight your books. When you see an idea that jumps off the page, highlight it. You read differently when you’re subliminally looking for things to highlight. Highlighting also makes a book feel more like “mine” since I’ve basically earmarked the stuff I found valuable. Sure, you can do this on a Kindle or a Nook, but I find it’s way more satisfying to use a bright yellow highlighter on a real paper book.
- Paper or electronic? Read the format that encourages you to read the most. I’ve tried both formats and I’ve decided I like paper better (something about that yellow highlighter no doubt). But do what you prefer.
- Carry a book with you. You’ll discover an amazing number of opportunities to read during downtimes like waiting for a doctor’s appointment or picking your kids up from school.
- Buy your books. If you truly don’t have the money, I understand. But most people spend more on Starbucks every month than they do on books. Don’t get me wrong, coffee is important, but books are more so. And if you really don’t have the cash, there’s always the library.
- Keep your eyes open for your next book. As I near the end of a book, I start noticing other books. I have a weird ritual that if a book “presents itself” to me several times, it’s probably the next book I should explore. This happens through recommendations, advertisements, Facebook, or seeing it in an airport bookstore on my way to my next speaking engagement.