I like to learn about the habits of very successful people and one habit they all seem to share is to read everyday. This surprises me because I picture these people being so busy that they don’t have time to read anything but briefs supplied to them by their aides and assistants. But that is far from the case. Warren Buffett once said that 80 percent of his work day is spent reading or thinking.
It seems like successful people always have their noses in books. Other reading is important too, but books are critical. Despite all the other ways we have to communicate today, the big, lasting, transformative ideas and information live in books and always will.
I’m a pretty good reader and in recent months I’ve redoubled my efforts. Many say that if you read 50 pages a day, you’ll read a book each week. I’ve set a goal of 30 pages for myself and I combine reading from nonfiction, fiction and the Bible every day. Some days I read more than 30 pages; some days my eyes just won’t stay open toward the end of the evening.
However, none of this is exactly what I want to share with you as a writer. What has been most shocking to me is that almost every week I find that something I’m reading is relevant to a writing assignment I’ve received. This enables me to build a perspective or a spin on my work that few others will have. Most who do what I do, which is a lot of ghostwriting, rely entirely on the web for research.
For example, I just wrote an article about leadership and CEOs being booted out of their own companies. I had just read how George Washington had voluntarily retired after leading the colonial army to victory over England. He was the most popular man in the country and he could have easily assumed control, but he didn’t. He stepped down at the height of his power and fame. That takes extraordinary insights, dedication, self control and a desire to do what is best for the organization. There are hundreds of online articles about CEOs who lose power, I would bet that mine is the first to hold up George Washington to illustrate a point.
So do a lot of reading. Read to entertain yourself and enjoy good writing. Read to further your career. Read to deepen your understanding of people and history. Read to grow spiritually.