The Leader as Lifelong Learner

This is a guest post by Daniel Offer. He operates the Facebook chat software Chit Chat. Chit Chat is a Facebook login application that benefits Facebook chat users by allowing them to access Facebook with a desktop chat messenger.

Widely considered to be one of America’s greatest business philosophers, Jim Rohn, the late Dallas businessman and dynamic public speaker, is well known for his commitment to lifelong personal development. During his talks on the subject, he is fond of pointing out that every house that costs over $500,000 (adjusted for inflation) has a room in it called a library.

A Stack of Books Outside - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/urbancow, Image #3906868

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/urbancow

“Why do you suppose that is?” Rohn challenges his audience. “Doesn’t that make you curious? How come every house over $500,000 has got a library? Does that tell you something? Does that educate you at all?”

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There is no doubt that Rohn is right; successful people do read more. Leaders, in particular, seem to read more than almost anyone else. After all, curiosity is often cited as a common characteristic of great leaders. Lincoln was famous for reading both the Bible and Shakespeare; Franklin Roosevelt loved Kipling. “Every great leader I’ve ever met has been a great reader,” says Rohn.

For most of us, books were where it all began.

Usually a person finds they were infected with a love of books at an early age, usually by a fellow carrier of the disease, more often than not a parent or teacher. That wonderful ability of a great book to transport our minds to new and unexplored places can have a tremendous impact on us. For the truly fortunate, a love of reading can easily lead to a love of learning—a gift that will well serve both leaders and those who simply aspire to leadership.

Too often, however, leaders allow themselves to get out of the reading habit. When it comes to learning, the brain can be likened to a muscle, and so like a muscle, it has to be regularly exercised. As we get older it will be increasingly important for us to continue exercising our brains, and there is nothing that compares to reading for keeping the brain in top shape. Additionally, as we progress through the leadership ranks within our organizations, we will need the increased knowledge and skills that only reading can provide.

The challenge to continue to grow and learn is one that each person must accept for themselves. Personal development is just that—personal. What works for one person may not work for someone else, and success may mean continually trying different strategies. But regardless of how we learn, reading will still be the primary method, and books will still be the primary tool. The key is to get yourself back to the books and you may find that you need some help getting back into the habit.

Here are three strategies:

  1. Read more than one book at a time. If everything we should be reading had the same plot and pace as an episode of The Bourne Trilogy then learning about search engine optimization or social marketing would make reading to learn an easier sell. To truly grow we will need to learn to dive into subjects that can often be as dry as a west Texas summer, and we will need to learn to stay with them until the very end.

    Continue with the goal of reading so many chapters or “x” number of pages in mind, but if you find your mind wandering before reaching your reading goal for the night, try dropping one book and picking up another. Continue reading to your goal, but allow your mind more choice in the subject of the moment. If you find the new material interesting, keep working through it, but if not drop that book too and either go back to your original book or try out a third title.

  2. Try reading in more than one place. On a similar theme to reading more than one book at a time, have books set aside to read when you are at a different locations. A book stored in your briefcase, backpack, or carrying case can insure you are always able to take advantage of down time in your schedule. A doctor who is running late can add a chapter to your reservoir of knowledge.

    Similarly, a book stashed in your desk at work can be a great way to recharge your batteries. Consider reading for ten or fifteen minutes at least once during your work day. You may find that not only do you reach your goal of using reading to learn, you are also more excited about the work you were doing prior to your brain break.

  3. Make use of the latest technologies. By now everyone is aware of the benefits of using an e-Book reader similar to Amazon’s Kindle or Apple’s iPad. These technologies make carrying a number of books with you at all times much more convenient, and anything that makes reading easier is always a good idea.

    Books on tape were a wonderful invention, allowing what Zig Ziglar called Automobile University. Today books can be recorded as MP3 files, greatly reducing the size of the files and allowing you to keep a number of audio books on your iPod at any one time. Your phone can be another great place to keep an audio book, and you can be sure you will usually have it, and so them, with you most of the time.

No matter what, don’t stop. Using these or other strategies to increase the number of books you read each year will help you grow both as a person and as a leader. Think of the value you could bring your organization if you could speak another language. Think of how much more valuable you will be in the marketplace if you bring a deep understanding of accounting and finance to the work you perform.

Reading can be the key to all knowledge, and having the discipline to regularly read a number of books on a wide range of subjects can be the key to success.

Question: What strategies do you use to make time for reading? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://joannamuses.com Joanna

    Using audiobooks you can multitask your reading and tasks that don’t require much concentration. I sometimes listen to audiobooks while cleaning or walking to class. It is amazing how much you can get through if you make the most of all the 15 minute bits and pieces of time you spend on things you don’t need to concentrate on.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I do this all the time while running. I feel like I am “killing two birds with one stone.”

      • http://joannamuses.com Joanna

        I’ve tried to get into audiobooks while working out, but I tend to find that uptempo music tends to work better at keeping me moving.

        • D. Offer

          I’m a little more like you Joanna. The key really is doing what works for you. I agree audio books are much more passive than reading, and can be useful for learning after a hard day of work looking at a computer screen.

          • http://joannamuses.com Joanna

            I agree. I read a lot for my university course and sometimes my brain just doesn’t want to take in any more text so audiobooks are a good way to relax but still learn something

        • http://ModernServantLeader.com Benjamin Lichtenwalner

          I used to be the same way, but I now do audiobooks for two out of three runs a week. The third is always my best workout, but I’m getting through more books / month now.

        • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          I totally get that. I sometimes do music, too, especially if my mind starts wandering.

          The biggest challenge I have is that the audio books usually stimulate a lot of creative thinking. Then I find that I have stopped listening and get lost in my thoughts. I do a lot of rewinding!

    • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com matt

      When I was a teen aged boy I decided to read one chapter of the Bible every day. I kept it up until I was in my mid 20s. Now my Bible reading is more than that, as I have my Church’s lectionary and the daily services called the Hours which contain several Psalms. Other than that, there are two things that help me read.

      1. I have two little boys who love to be read to. In the last seven years I’ve discoved so many wonderful books I never knew about: The Wind in the Willows, all those books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books, and many more.

      2. I have a 3 hour (round trip) commute by train. Trains are perfect for reading. Over the years I’ve read many many books on trains. Right now I am reading Ostrogorsky’s “History of the Byzantine State”. My three hour commute lets me get though about 80 pages per day.

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  • http://www.epicparent.tv Chris Spradlin

    One of my biggest passions is kids & helping parents raise fearless, courageous, wise and growing kids….love this post and I encourage parents to start depositing this idea of reading/development into kids @ a early age! Start simple….parents should pick out one book a month (apart from school required reading)and have their kids read it….anything from spiritual development, financial development, purity, etc… thanks again! great post!

  • http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com Rachelle Gardner

    Terrific post! I’m usually “reading” 3 or 4 books at a time, one or two of them being audiobooks. Right now I’m listening to one business book and one novel – I can trade off depending on what I’m in the mood for. I’m also reading a client manuscript (ALWAYS) and a spiritual book. I can’t imagine being any other way.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m with you on that. Do you feel that you need to finish every book or do you abandon some halfway through?

      Personally, I feel no obligation to finish. I read so long as I am getting value out of the book, though I really do try to press through difficult stuff and make sure it’s not just me.

      • http://www.pastorbrett.com Brett

        Michael, on not feeling obligated to finish a book, this is an important thing for people to embrace. I hate not finishing a book, but a couple of years ago realized that NOT finishing some books can be good stewardship of the time God has granted us (Psalm 90:12: Ephesians 5:16).

        Some books remind me of a lot of the LPs I bought back in the 70s and 80s…1 or 2 hit songs followed by a bunch of bad songs. Such books are great for the first few chapters but then go downhill fast with what comes across as just filler…so that there is a full-sized book to sell ($$). The bottom line is that some mediocre books would make great pamphlets.

        • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com Courtney(WomenLivingWell)

          Brett – this is a great analogy! Sometimes there are some golden chapters and they are like the 1 or 2 hit songs on a CD! You are so right!

        • http://lauradroege.wordpress.com Laura Droege

          Good point. I’ve stopped reading numerous novels over the years when I realize that they are badly written. There are plenty of wonderful, beautiful novels out there for me to enjoy, so why should I waste part of my life on a bad novel? If it’s beautiful writing but not fast paced (as in many literary novels I’ve encountered), I will try to continue reading, simply so I can savor the rhythm of the prose.

          Non-fiction is a bit different. For me, it’s easier to pick and choose which chapters to read, like finding the hits on an LP. (Thank you, Brett, for a great analogy!)

          Oh, and in answer to your question, Michael, I read in the car pool line while waiting for my daughter or after my children are asleep.

        • http://joannamuses.com Joanna

          I agree it is sometimes worth NOT finishing a book. The problem is unlike CDs which almost always start with the best tracks, some books start unimpressive and get better.

          • http://www.pastorbrett.com Brett

            Joanna, maybe it’s the genre in which I frequently read, but rarely do I find a non-fiction book getting better. Too often I find that if I read the first 30% of the book I get everything I really need. However, I’ve found novels can be a different story, much as you have described, starting unimpressive but then get better.

  • http://fghart.wordpress.com FGHart

    I recently renewed my avid-reading habits. I’m now trying to instill the discipline of reading at work. After reading Michael’s post on creating one page summaries, I decided to reread my stack of “how to be a better manager/leader” books and create a summary for each. Unfortunately I haven’t made it past the first book.

    As of this week I assigned this to myself as a work-duty. Whatever it takes to get myself to do it! I appreciate the perspective that great readers are great leaders. That’s just the motivation/validation I needed today.

    • D. Offer

      Thanks for your comments “FGHart.” Whilst reading is important to learn, it’s equally important to enact and experiment with the knowledge that you have obtained. Management books in particular require you to actively integrate knowledge obtained, therefore it may be worth integrating a couple of useful strategies into your life at a time rather than overloading yourself too quickly.

      • http://fghart.wordpress.com FGHart

        Thank you Daniel! You make a great point. I appreciate your insight. Fortunately the books I’m tackling are “refreshers” for me. The new strategy that I’m trying to integrate is the documentation of the key takeaways from books I’ve already read and am hopefully already applying (so far, so good … as far as “The One Minute Manager” goes). Then I will apply this discipline to new books that are sitting in my “to read” stack. Meanwhile, another day slipped away. {sigh} You nailed it when you warned against overload.

    • Ralene

      I echo that last part, FGHart. The idea of great leader are great readers is definitely an extra motivation!

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com Courtney(WomenLivingWell)

    I had decided that I was going to try to stop purchasing new books and go back and reread my favorite books already on my shelf. BUT then I was on Amazon.com yesterday…and well – I accidently (lol!) bought 5 more books! I just can’t help myself – it’s my weakness for sure!

    Thankfully, my husband supports my love for reading and writing! I feel strongly that I must keep a full heart so I have something to give to my blog readers (and to my children who I homeschool!) and reading is how I fill myself up. My children are 5 and 7 and I can’t wait till they can sit beside me and gulp down a good book all on their own!!!

    Praying my kids love reading as much as I do :) and my blog readers will dig into some of the books I recommend!
    Courtney

    • D. Offer

      That one click purchasing on Amazon is dangerous to ones credit card isn’t it ;) – its all too easy to purchase books on Amazon!

      • http://joannamuses.com Joanna

        And knowing that your kindle book will be there for you to read within moments of buying ups the temptation so much more.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      One-click should be labeled as a narcotic and regulated by the FDA. ;-)

    • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com Courtney(WomenLivingWell)

      I’m glad I’m not alone in this lol!!! Thanks for the laugh!

  • Mark McKeen

    “If we stop learning today, we stop teaching tomorrow” – Dr. Howard Hendricks.

    I have found that if I am going through a particularly dry spell in my reading life, I seem less effective as a teacher. I try my best to read a book a week. This has helped my mind stay fresh as well as it gives me more topics to discuss and debate.

    As a leader, we are often expected to be the expert on everything. Though this can be an unrealistic expectation by others, reading a wide variety of topics can help us foster that ‘expertise’ that we need.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love the Howard Hendricks quote!

  • http://www.validleadership.com James Castellano

    I leave books in different rooms. This encourages me to continue reading throughout the day. I also find reading several books simultaneously helps me.

    The factor which really makes me find time is I teach everyone about the power of reading. To stay congruent with my teaching I must read regularly. My blog is registered as “leading is reading”

  • http://www.RyanHanley.com Ryan Hanley

    I am getting a Kindle this year. I always have more than one book going usually ranging for Business, to Personal Development, to SciFi, to History and keeping track of them all can be a problem. Or you want to read one book but its in the office and it becomes a pain.

    Reading is a disease I’m glad I contracted. Thanks Michael!

    Ryan H.

  • http://www.lovingcharlotte.com/Cornelius.php Keith

    Timing is everything. I never knew whom Jim Rohn was until I heard him on a mp3 two days ago. Seems like an amazing man. Here is where your readers can go to hear him.
    http://www.mikelitman.com/blog/2009/12/headline-the-passing-of-jim-rohn/

    I find I love the feel of a book in my hands, and although maybe someday I will buy a Kindle (or something), I will always want to read my favorites in my hand, like “To Kill A Mockingbird”.

  • Gary

    A life event 15 years ago opened my curiosity about divorce and its impact on people and how to survive after that. I read more books in the following six months than I had read in the previous six years. I was reading but it was all job related reading. I have not been able to satisfy that curiosity now. I do sometimes read three books at a time. I am in three Bible studies, two of them are book studies and are in different books. I have found that the Kindle is a great load lightener, I can carry one device and have all I am reading. I read in line waiting to vote Tuesday. I find I am reading more because I can take it with me easier.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I learned a similar lesson from my dad. He is always curious and always reading. Growing up, whenever I saw him tackle a new hobby, he bought a bunch of books and started there. I realized that I could learn anything I wanted if I had the right books in hand.

  • http://www.tomraines.wordpress.com Tom Raines

    Excellent strategies. I do NOT read enough but appreciate your suggesting to read more than one book at a time… when I do read I seem to have several going on at a time and I thought it was just an attention deficit disorder or character flaw!!HA I am encouraged to read and pick up all of the books I currently have partially read… Thanks!

    • D. Offer

      I find that the best way to ensure that one reads regularly is to make it part of your every day routine. Thanks for your input.

  • Ralene

    I must confess…with two preschoolers, writing, and a husband who is always on the road, I have a hard time finding time for reading my Bible, much less anything else. I will say that I have a book in each bathroom, two by my nightstand, and one in the diaper bag. Can’t say how often I get to actually read them. lol…

  • Angie Weldy

    My mom was not much of a reader but I love to read. My biggest obstacle is thinking that reading is not as important as doing laundry or writing a grant proposal. I do find that subscribing to blogs (like yours) and reading articles gives me a lot of smaller amounts of information over the course of a week. Then I have two books on my nightstand that stare at me when I go to bed.
    One other thought – I tend to read about topics that don’t exactly apply to my current work position but are in the realm of my department and what I may someday be asked to do. Somehow I use this information quite often so I think having the knowledge first leads to the responsibility instead of being given the job and then trying to figure out how to do it. These “promotions” have all been small but good steps.

  • http://rachaeltravis.blogspot.com/ Rachael

    With a busy schedule, I find the best time for me to read is at night (like most people) so I just plan to go to bed 30 minutes to an hour before I normally would and I just read. I love reading more than one book at a time. And my husband and I enjoy reading a book together (not literally…just one night he reads it and the next I read it). We then discuss the book together. I find this to be a great way to enjoy reading and your partner :) Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think that finding the right time to read is important. I do best early in the morning when I am the most alert.

  • http://theperkinsblog.net Michael

    I typically read when my family has went to bed. It’s my alone time. I too have done the reading in different places and it really works well. I have struggled reading more than one book at a time though, but I think your suggestions will help me. Thank you.

  • http://ModernServantLeader.com Benjamin Lichtenwalner

    I first read this quote from Michael and now share it all the time:
    “Leaders read and readers lead.”

    I’m also big on the audio. If I like the big, I listen to it 2 or 3 times before I absorb as much as I do from reading it. However, I get through far more books that way. If I like the book, I also typically buy it multiple formats (at least hard copy and audio).

    I love your suggestion: “if you find your mind wandering before reaching your reading goal for the night, try dropping one book and picking up another. Continue reading to your goal, but allow your mind more choice in the subject of the moment.” I definitely plan to try that.

    A great post, thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.hearthope.org Olga Griffin

    I have found that reading not only stimulates my mind and helps my knowledge base to grow, but it also helps me with my blogging since I can see a variety of writing styles.

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  • Rodney Eason

    Your post reminded me that my parents had the entire “World Book Encyclopedia” set centrally located in our home growing up. I spent hours skimming through the set. This was my “Google” as a kid. And where I learned that Santa Claus was fictitious (then we had to ask my mom what fictitious meant).
    My wife and I have books in every room of the house. We have 4 small kids and they have tons of books. They see us reading and now they love to read.
    We do not turn the tv on unless there is something good to watch. We each have one show per week that we watch. Otherwise, we use the time to read after the kids go to bed.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I did that, too, Rodney. I used to read these encyclopedia by the hour. It opened a whole new world to me.

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Daniel,

    I follow your practice of always having a book handy. When everybody else is stuck waiting, I am ready to learn and earn.

    Many fail to recognize the opportunity each moment affords us with. You can use it or waste it. It’s your choice, and by carrying books you can remain productive in each moment.

    Thanks for sharing your insight!

    Ryan

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yesterday, I was stuck outside a courtroom all day awaiting a summons to testify in a case. Thankfully, I had plenty to read. It was like an unexpected gift to be able to read for such an extended period.

      • http://www.liveoutlife.com Hona Amer

        This is a great way to combat the “no time to read” dilemma. I always try to take a book with me.

        Also, my father has always been a great example of a reading leader. Growing up, he would always tell me this quote. “You are the same today you’ll be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.’- Charlie Jones

        Thanks for the post!

  • http://thatguykc.wordpress.com ThatGuyKC

    Great guest post! I’m an avid reader and future leader (still learning to be a good follower and bolster experience and education level) so this is very helpful.

    1. Don’t know what I think about reading more than one book at a time. I’ve got enough trouble with ADD and retention as it is. That being said maybe reading a thriller novel and a business book simultaneously would be better than two of the same genre.

    2. Perfect. I read on the bus, while walking (watch out for the metro buses; they don’t stop) and in various places during a lunch break. Like the idea of using reading as a way to recharge for a few minutes throughout the day.

    3. Check! Got a Kindle a few months ago and it’s my favorite tech “toy”. Given the choice between that & my iPhone would have to take the Kindle. However, I’ve only read novels on it so far because I prefer hard copy books for business and religious reading since I like to jot down notes. Once Moleskine comes out with an updated cover for the Kindle 3 that should solve my problems though.

    Thanks Daniel! Great stuff.

  • http://www.dailyreflectionsforsingleparents.blogspot.com/ Scoti Springfield Domeij

    Like my cell phone, if I leave the house without a book, I feel lost. I keep a book in my car and sometimes read at long stop lights. I carry a book in my purse, in case I have to wait in a long line or for an appointment at an office or am bored at church. I can’t stand having any block of time and no book in hand. Stacks of books surround my bed. I converted all four walls of my family room floor to ceiling into a library. My singles small group and writers groups who meet in that room love it. I even read while watching TV.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is where the Kindle really comes in handy. Even if I forget the actual Kindle, I can still read my Kindle books via my iPhone. I especially like the fact that Amazon syncs the last place I have read, regardless of the device I am on.

  • http://mystrengthmyportion.blogspot.com therealbooyah

    Sounds like someone has read Dr. Hendricks “Teaching to Change Lives”. He says, “Leaders are readers & readers are leaders.” I’m only in the first chapter of the book, but finding similarities here & there.

  • http://www.pastorbrett.com Brett

    I have found that my number one obstacle to reading books is reading blogs! My blog reader is filled every night with all kinds of interesting stuff to read. I was motivated a couple of years ago when I read that President Bush was reading at a clip of almost a book a week during his presidency (according to Karl Rove’s Wall Street Journal 12/26/08 op-ed piece). So I challenged myself in 2009 to read 52 books. I came woefully short. This year I am doing better but still too embarrassed to publicly say how far along I am. Does anyone else set these kind of reading goals?

  • Dalton Paul Saunders

    The best Strategy for us as a family is….turn the TV off!

  • http://Www.laurindaOnleadership.com Laurinda

    Reading is like exercise; no strategy I just do it. Thanks for a great blog post. I was having this discussion a while ago. I agree leaders need to be lifelong learners. Everything you suggested I do!

  • Pitch

    This is a great read. It confirms what my pastors would always tell me that “Leaders are readers.”

    All of the successful people I know love to read books.

  • http://mayfairya.blogspot.com Derek

    I don’t have an iPhone but do carry iPod touch and do alot of reading on that-very sporadic though. It’s great to have any time I have to wait anywhere. The other thing my wife and I do as well as “Dalton Paul Sanders”-We just don’t watch TV regularly anymore. I am in the middle of reading Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky and he talks about the TV being what Americans like to medicate their free time with. If everyone actually read as much as they watched TV, I wonder how much society would change?

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    “Leaders are Readers”… love the post!

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    How many books do you go through in a given month, Michael?

    Just curious…

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Usually a minimum of four.

  • http://www.accuconference.com Maranda Gibson

    I take a lot of road trips and any time I am on the road, I always make a stop and pick up an audio book. Sure, I could get one on my iPhone and just listen to it, but there’s something exciting about watching the chapter numbers change on my radio display. When the plot starts to twist, I find myself looking at the number and thinking about how soon I’ll find out what is really going on.

  • http://www.aslegal.com Jeff

    I’m a ferocious reader. (wait, I have a ferocious appetite for reading. I’m relatively a nice quiet guy). And while my house is not worth 500,000 I DO have a ‘study’. I’ve always loved to read, and I’ve always been mmotivated by what I read.

    I keep an entire bookshelf on Selling techiques, one of Biographies of businessmen I admire, one on Self-Help and one of Far Eastern Culture.

    I read more than those 4 topics, but they are my favorites, and I keep every non-fiction book I buy. (Not to mention all the time I spend in the library!).

    My children are 10 and 11. They go thru reading in ‘spurts’ with more interest in TV than reading often. They KNOW I am an avid reader so it’s not like I’m not setting the right example, but they are young yet and I predict over the long haul they will aquire my love for books.

    Had it not been for books by Tony Robbins, Jeff gitomer, Seth Godin or Confucious, I dont know that I would be as successful as I am today…and I have a lot more ‘succeeding’ to do!! :)

  • http://missionalmamassoul.blogspot.com/ Amy

    I carry books with me so I can read when I have a few minutes here and there.

    Interesting conversation, BTW
    Amy

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  • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

    I schedule myself out for reading. If it is on my schedule I do it. At least that is what works for me.

    I wonder though what effect blog reading will have on this paradigm?

    If i read 20 well written insightful blog post a day is that the same as reading a book?
    Just curious

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I actually think it is different. I think that it takes mental discipline to follow a longer, more sustained argument or story. It provides an opportunity to think deeply about a particular topic. As much as I love blogging, I think it is something very different.

      • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

        I think I agree.

        Blogging is more like a quick “short story” and honestly once you read you move on with your day.

        I think you are right

      • http://www.pastorbrett.com Brett

        Definitely different. And according to Nicholas Carr, the more we surf the internet the more we are rewiring our brains for the worse. He says that research in neurological science is revealing that reading books is far better for our brains than time surfing the internet (which includes reading blogs).

  • Andrew Brotherton

    Definitely a correlation between reading and success. If you aren’t reading you aren’t learning, and if you aren’t learning you aren’t growing, and if you aren’t growing then you will simply get passed by.

    • D. Offer

      I completely agree.

  • http://nonprofitinsurance.wordpress.com Brett

    I just have to get up early and make time in the A.M. I also use lunch at work as a bit of down time to read for a few minutes. The car has been great and my Kindle has really been wonderful and fun to encourage reading as I go.

    One question although this might not be the right place: I’m reading Rohn and Napoleon Hill and… Francis Chan and Don Miller. Hence, I’m a bit conflicted. Any insight how to balance leadership/success lit w/ more faith-inspired literature? Are there good suggested authors that have a balanced or harmonized approach?

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I would suggest Todd Duncan, John Maxwell, and Patrick Lencioni.

      • http://nonprofitinsurance.wordpress.com Brett

        Thank you for the suggestions. I’ll follow up.

  • http://twitter.com/NowInANutshell @NowInANutshell

    Thanks for this post! It’s beckoning me to go back to the basic–to the books. I haven’t got a plan for the year, and it’s already November! But I’ll adopt or devise one for next year. Good thing I got reminded today. But if I think of my reading behavior now as having some kind of a strategy, it is that I look out for books that expert people recommend on a subject, e.g. leadership, science, literature, etc.

    I could not overemphasize the significant role books have played in my life. I wouldn’t be able to speak my thoughts out loud if I hadn’t encountered the Bible, college textbooks, C.S. Lewis, and this one just in, Donald Miller. Jim Rohn just got added to the list, too. Thanks, Daniel!

    Most of them shaped my thoughts, thus shaping my life now. When I share to friends and family, I quote books, I derive my ideas from books, and/or I refer them to a book I read that I think can help them.

  • http://www.billcahusac.com Bill Cahusac

    Although as an activist pragmatist I am not a “natural reader” I left seminary with the goal of reading one book a month- the plan was to alternate between a theological/ devotional book one month to keep me fired up about Jesus and then a leadership/ business/ management book the other months. I read some in hard copy, listen to a lot of them on my iPod (I can listen as I work out/ travel etc) and having just this month gotten a Kindle (which I absolutely LOVE) I am finding myself reading even more. As it turns out in the last four years I have averaged about twenty books a year.
    I have wondered whether that was almost too much, but actually I am finding that with leadership/ management books although they differ in approach the truth is that they often re-inforce each other as they do tend to say the same kind of things in slightly different ways.
    The thing I am increasingly aware of is that while reading isn’t a dying art, the truth is that people my age increasingly ingest/consume information differently- lots listen to podcasts, watch videos or subscribe to blogs (like yours!!) etc. I think that the key is to keep learning in a way that best works for each one of us.

  • http://www.lamourtrainingsystems.com Jimmy Lamour

    I like to read several different books at a time. I usually like to take on a variety of topics from Marketing, Fitness, Leadership, Bible, etc…I also like to read for 30 minutes during lunch time. I call it Brain Food.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like the idea of “Brain Food”!

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    My husband is getting a new interest in learning and reading. I’ve always been a reader–a fiction reader–and now I’ve added nonfiction to my fascination to reading. I prefer a live book to an electronic book. I like the feel of the book in my hands and it is relaxing and easier on the eyes.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    I am big into audio books. They work real well on my 40 minute commute. One of the most interesting things I have ever done was to listen to a Seth Godin marketing book (All marketers are liars) on my iPod while walking through an old town shopping area. Seth’s words became gold as I passed business after business that weren’t telling compelling stories like Seth was talking about on the recording. It was almost as if Seth was walking along, pointing out the businesses that would soon fail. I put up a post about this experience a few years back at http://www.mbaontherun.com/2006/04/a-walk-thru-old-town-temecula/

  • http://betterlifecoaching.wordpress.com/ Darren Poke

    A great reminder Michael and I love the Jim Rohn reference. I wrote a post titled “Leaders are Readers” a few months ago that also encourages people to read great blogs (like yours) as well as books. http://betterlifecoaching.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/leaders-are-readers/

    I saw my first Kindle in person a couple of weeks ago and I’m tempted to invest in one. They look great!

    My challenge is to continue to up the ante with my personal reading as well as teach this principle to my young children so that they can learn great reading habits from a young age.

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    I listen to audio books when I am mowing the grass. If the book really sticks out to me then I’ll often go through the physical book copy later and dog ear and note highlights. I also keep a NOTE pad in my iPad and an old fashioned spiral notebook where I login nuggets of wisdom that spoke to me.

  • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

    Great article; I try to read for at least 30 minutes a day, plus listen to audiobooks in the car and when I’m working (this is, perhaps, overkill). Thanks for this reminder on the necessity of learning to the life of a leader.

  • http://curtismarshall.tumblr.com Curtis Marshall

    This is a great post about Learning. I recently wrote about the same topic on my own blog about a week ago (http://curtismarshall.tumblr.com/post/1438303523/lifelong-learning?ref=nf).

    What I learned from this one was the idea of reading more than one book at once. I have always been one to read a book until it’s done, but if there is a dry book, I often slow down my reading regimen to accommodate it. Instead, I’ve just learned to move on to another book and my reading pace can stay steady while slowly digesting more difficult material.

    Great advice! Thanks!

  • Lauren Sylvan

    I have a number of audio courses from The Teaching Company. The delivery isn’t as polished as from a professional voice-actor, but the courses contain a dense amount of information. The ones in my particular area (historical research) I have listened to several times.

  • http://www.singledadlife.com Barry

    So much great stuff in this post. I need to take your advice about reading multiple books at one time. Also the one about not finishing a book. I feel guilty when I don’t finish a book. I will see a book and think, I want to read that, buy it and think I need to finish the book I am reading before starting another.

    I also need to get past the thought that reading a novel is wasting my time. I feel their is so much to learn and fascinating people to read about. I have a hard time finishing a fiction book.

    One very important point. Read to your kids when they are young! I did it every night and even to this day (all 3 in college) we kid about some of the antics I did during reading when they went to bed. You have their full attention. Tucked under their covers. No distractions. One on one. I have no doubt this tradition will continue when they have their own children. It saddens me when I hear when a parent doesn’t read to their kids when putting them to bed. Not only is it a great learning and teaching moment for you kids, but so rewarding for the parent. Actually these are the times I miss most now that they are grown and off. This unique window of time goes by so fast. Don’t miss it!

  • http://www.andrzejkowasz.com Andrzej

    Hi!
    My strategy is to have a small book or a bunch of mp3’s with me for most of the time. Usually I read or listen to it while riding to work or getting back. By bus of course, so it’s not distracting me while driving ;)

  • http://www.rowentree.com April Rowen

    I really appreciate Jim Rohn’s point that every house worth over $500,000 has a built-in library. Sometimes family and friends think that reading is laziness or fun, but nothing more. Now I have Jim to back me up =)

    And Jim’s point proves that the Beast in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was a sharp cookie.

  • http://Www.twitter.com/juanbg Juan

    Mike,
    With the advent of ebook readers my life has changed completely as now I read more due to the convinience of the iPad.
    For example While I walk or run on the treadmill I am reading maybe a chapter at that time. I can easily say that a week I read 1 to 2 books.

  • http://www.teamcurtisfamily.com Ron Curtis

    Jim Rohn was an amazing speaker. His albums are still influencing people I meet today.

    The Leader’s responsibility is to continually improve for the benefit of his group. Daily personal growth is not only required, it is embraced!

    God bless,
    Ron

  • http://www.kathyfannon.com Kathy Fannon

    Michael, this would be a great place to link to your article about retaining what we read!

    As a visual learner, books-on-tape would never work for me!

    My dad has always been a reader and when I was in junior high he made me read 15 minutes a day and each weekeday had it’s own book. That was tough trying to remember when I had read for only 15 minutes the week before! He finally relented and let me read what I wanted, and I did read a lot. I’m glad he instilled that value in me.

    I used to volunteer for the Language Arts teacher at my kids’ junior high. He often commented on how he knew who the readers were based on their writing papers. He was also frustrated with all of the “LOL”s and “j/k”s he was finding on papers now. Writing has come a long way in 40 years! He’s now retired.

  • Gail

    I have my Mum to thank for my reading addiction. I am the second oldest of six kids and when she got to that tricky stage with napping kids and non napping kids under the age of 5 she developed “bookie time” which was an hour or so each afternoon when we had to lie on our beds and read (look at pictures) while our younger siblings had their nap. This continued through primary school. It gave Mum some time out each afternoon and gave us all a love of books. I am so thankful for that great start.

    On audio books – my sister gave me Anne of Green Gables on cd for Christmas a few years ago as I loved it as a child. I took it on a road trip and had to stop driving because I cried so much when Matthew died :(

  • Kingsly

    I love this article because i love reading.
    I recently had doubts on reading multiple books at the same time. I usually do it. I thought it was a bad strategy since i am not completing what i start. But then thanks for the clarification.
    Thanks.

  • Kingsly

    I like your article since i love reading. I do read multiple books and sometimes get guilty abt it. But then thanks for clarifying. Thanks

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  • http://www.christopherscottblog.typepad.com/ Christopher Scott

    I love to read, and the main strategy that I have is to read my Bible every morning. I’m pretty good at making sure this happens every day, and it helps to get me started on the right foot.

    I also keep a book with me wherever I go. If I am going to a meeting or an appointment, I take a book with me. Those three minutes spent in the reception area waiting to be called in for my appointment become reading time. Just as I begin my morning reading, I also end it reading. I try to read at the end of my day.

    Not to mention I read a lot more on Saturdays and Sundays than I do the rest of the week. Those are the days where I really crank out some serious reading and make progress.

  • Sally M. Chetwynd

    I employ two of your guest blogger’s suggestions – more than one book going at a time, and having ‘active’ books scattered all over the house, in my car, and in the ‘everything’ bag I lug around. (I don’t really see myself ever getting into ebooks. They just don’t appeal to me.)

    This theory of a cultural relationship between success and having a room in a high-end residence devoted exclusively to a library is intriguing. My family was middle- to lower-middle class and large, and we had bookcases all over the house, but I think that lower and middle class families probably rarely have the money to afford a house big enough to devote a room entirely to a library, so the books end up all over the place.

    The idea of the brain as a muscle needing exercise is exactly right. I read a lot of 19th Century American writings, and because the prose style then was often more scholarly and formal, it takes a little time for one’s brain to become accustomed to reading and comprehension of these texts. Until I got used to it, I could feel physical manifestations of that stretching going on after a session of reading one of these pieces of rhetoric, journal, poetry, or novel.

  • http://www.7sistershomeschool.com Sabrina Justison

    Great encouragement!

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  • http://www.nowsharethisblog.com John Nemo

    Great post Michael! I make time for extra reading using audiobooks on my iPhone. The added bonus is that it makes usual solitary and mundane chores (shoveling snow, cutting grass, doing dishes) go by much faster because I get engrossed in the story I’m listening to!

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  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Great ideas Mike! Additionally, we can do onething. Swith off the television and keep it inside the carton box. I know many of my friends who had reduced their reading time after graduation purely becuase of television. TV viewing eats their time. ANd, of course, passion and desire to read will make a huge difference.

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  • http://www.WorkLikeAnArtist.com/ Karl Rohde

    This is poignant post. It resonates with me as an avid reader. As adults reading is the primary tool of learning. It too remains the keystone of learning in the social age especially with Kindles, Kobo’s and Nooks. I wrote an article that I think your readers may find relevant to this: 
    How The Social Age has Transformed How We Learn http://worklikeanartist.com/the-social-age-has-transformed-how-we-learn