25 Jan How Leaders Should Read Books: Part One
I heard Jim Rohn once say that most people really have about ten books that will influence them over the course of their life. I’d like to add to that for a moment. Another quote I heard once is: [tweetthis display_mode=”box”]”Leaders are readers.” – unknown | Reading is a critical piece to moving ahead in learning & grasping new information.[/tweetthis]
The Bible makes it clear that we need knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” Proverbs makes it clear that there’s an order to this: first we gain knowledge, then understanding, and then wisdom.
So when I heard this statement that ten books really influence your life, I thought back on which books have affected me. Of course the Bible has been the foundation. Two of the books that really affected me are “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill, which has been an ultimate classic especially in the finance area and the motivation area. And the other book is “The Richest Man in Babylon,” by George S. Clason.
But there have been other books. So I would add to these ten books that there are ten books every decade of your life that really impact you. You learn and grow and society changes. Some books are classics forever, but some books are aimed at that particular decade. So what I want to talk about is really what it means to have the skills in your life for how to read a book. How do you look at a book and decide if you want to read it?
If you read one book a week, in ten years you will have read approximately 500 books. If you read two books a week over ten years, you’ll have read approximately 1,000 books. So the question is can 1,000 books have an impact on your life? And the answer is absolutely, especially if they’re the right books.
Discriminate: What information are you looking for? If I picked up the “Money Mastery” book, I would start by looking at the front cover. Money Mastery: am I interested in the subject of money and in how to master it? If I am, then this would certainly be a possible book for me.
So firstly, look for subjects and information that you are interested in and feel led too. Secondly, don’t buy it if it doesn’t fit. If someone recommends a book and it doesn’t fit with you, then don’t buy it. It’s also better to look at the book and decide if it’s going to move you forward. It might fit, but it’s not moving you from a to b, then it’s not going to impact you. If a book doesn’t move you forward, then you should let it be.
Investigate: I like to turn and read the back cover and the first couple of pages in the introduction. This helps me see if it’s going to move me forward and if it fits. I also carefully peruse the table of contents. I do that because it helps me know if it’s something that will add value to my life.
Let’s say you’re looking at a book and only a small portion fits you. One of the things I do is buy an electronic copy on Amazon if only one chapter fits. If you’re at a bookstore though, you can just read that chapter in the store and make some notes. Or maybe you can find it at the library.
Another thing I always do is look for chapter summaries. I can stand in a bookstore and read the chapter summaries in less than ten minutes. Then I have a really good sense of does this apply to me, is it going to move me forward, and is it going to make a difference in my life.
If that all checks out, then I read the first couple of paragraphs of each chapter and most of the time the last paragraph of each chapter. I just try to see how this book is going to impact my life. For me to move forward, I have to add value to my life. And to add value, it takes knowledge, understanding and wisdom.
Concentrate: It’s not like reading a novel. When reading a novel, it’s kind of mindless. What you’re trying to do is pull out information that you can apply. Pull out information that’s actionable. When you see a book that I’ve read, I’ll read the same chapter sometimes 4-5 times and mark it up in different ways that allow me to take actionable items. If you were to ever see books I’ve read, you’ll see actions that I’m going to take written in the margins. For example, I’m going to buy this item or try this particular method.
So first you discriminate, then you investigate and finally you concentrate. I hope this has helped you. I’ll come back next time with more tips on how to read a book.
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