Leaders Are Readers

I think I first heard the phrase, “Leaders are Readers” when I was a teenager. I didn’t think much about it, except that I liked that the phrase rhymed.

I loved to read so it wasn’t much of a stretch to read more books, but maybe just an encouragement to read different types of books. Summer was my favorite time of year because with my extra time, I could bury my nose in all my favorite summer reads and maybe add a few new ones after finishing my favorites. I always had a copy of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with me on summer vacations and I loved to peruse the libraries of the cabins we stayed in or the shelves of books whenever and whenever I would see them.

Libraries were fascinating to me. The ability to travel in time or to far flung places just by cracking open a book. Both my parents would take me to the public library as a child. I loved the smell of books, the rows and rows of tall domino like shelves stuffed with all sizes of books and periodicals, and the reverent quietness which most people had at the library. The hushed whispers and the rustle of turning pages felt like church to me.

My Uncle Jimmy loved to read too and I remember how excited he was to share his growing library of books on tape. He lived 12+ hours away from me and he listened to lots and lots of books while driving. I thought listening to books was interesting, but I loved the tactile connection I had to the pages when I was reading a book. Years passed and soon my friends started using a Kindle (or other electronic device) to read. I still loved reading with a physical book in my hand, so I never adopted the new technology.

As I started working more and more, I found I had less and less time to read. I read several books a week as a kid and now I was lucky to squeeze in a few books a year. I was driving a lot more for work and as much as I resisted it, I started listening to Audio Books. To be honest it felt like I was cheating, and I often felt like I should go read the physical book later when I had the chance, but those chances were hard to find. I finally embraced this NEW way of “reading” and I’ve been excited to add more book titles to my audio book list.

I recently discovered that I could get audiobooks from my local library and depending on the app I used, I could borrow up to 15 books a month for FREE! Audiobooks easily led me to various podcasts (which took me years to finally adopt) and now I’m a voracious listener. It’s standard for me to have an audiobook or podcast on and I usually only pause it when I’m writing or if I have company.

I heard a lecture by, Jim Kwik, the brain and learning expert, and he said leaders  and CEOs read 4 to 6 books a month. At the time that I heard that I was reading 4 to 6 books a year if I was lucky. He broke down the time needed to read an average book and for most books, 45 minutes a day of reading will do the trick. With an average reading speed of 200 words per minute and the average book containing 64,000 words, with less than an hour a day of reading I knew I could get back on track to reading a book a week.

There are so many skills I need to learn and improve on. If I’m to be a better leader for The Burrito Project and in my other businesses, I know I need to expand my thinking, mindset and knowledge. Books are magical! I can read a book in a week which is filled with lifelong knowledge and insight from an authority in their field. These life lessons and professional tips can be learned from a successful person who is willing to share their mishaps and gems of truth. Books can be a timesaver because the knowledge of a lifetime is condensed into a book which can be read in days. I’m great at making mistakes, but reading is a way to learn from other people’s mistakes and hopefully save myself some grief.

Last week, 5 new business books arrived in the mail. I’ve already finished one of the books and I started on the 2nd book this morning. On this Star Wars Day, I’m reaffirming my commitment to reading, expanding my consciousness and learning the skills I need to become a better human being, businessman, entrepreneur, speaker and leader in my community.

May the 4th be with you!