All about the 5Ws (and 1H) of Reading to Lead

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Ancora Imparo!

The Italian phrase is often quoted to mean “Yet, am Learning”. It is attributed to the renowned polymath, Michelangelo (who was a sculptor, painter, architect and poet) who is believed to have inscribed this on a sketch he was working on at the age of 87!

The single most important trait to achieve success in life and specially to master any field is the hunger to learn while being prepared to unlearn. And what is the best way to do so? It is to read. One of the most powerful but unfortunately, understated habits.

Why to read?

The greatest leaders in business and otherwise are without exception voracious readers. Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think and a self-made millionaire, interviewed 1200 wealthiest people in the world over decades and found a common pastime – self education by reading. There are enough and more cases to support this.

Warren Buffet, for example used to read 600 to 1000 pages daily when he began his career as an investor and still spends 80% of his day reading. Bill Gates is known to read 50 books a year. Elon Musk famously quipped once that he learnt to make rockets by reading. The list goes on. History is replete with stupendously successful people who hadn’t even earned a college degree but went on to become leaders in their arena by self-learning through reading.

Who should read?

Anyone and Everyone should read, to stay alive! Several studies have proved benefits of inculcating habit of reading in kindergarten. As with every habit, the sooner one begins the better. Though it is never too late to start! The idiom ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ definitely doesn’t ring true here.

Of course, practically, not everyone can be that one leader ruling at the top, but the majority of us lead at least one arena in our life.

What to read?

This is one of the most pertinent questions to ask oneself. Not if one should be reading. But what is it that one should read. Considering over one million new books release every year with 25% of them being self-published and 75% titles release by major publishing houses, it is indeed a dilemma.

Tom Corley, author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, had stated that rich people (with an annual income of $160,000 or more) read for self-improvement, education, and success. Whereas, poor people (annual income of $35,000 or less) read primarily to be entertained.

This isn’t to say that leaders don’t read literature or fiction or poetry and only read books on self-help, biographies, autobiographies and technical knowledge. Reading for fun has its benefits. Literary fiction reading helps let the mind relax, makes one empathetic and also develops emotional quotient.

When do you read?

Reading usually gets categorised among the cluster of ‘hobbies’. And while most people treat it as a form of entertainment, it should be accorded a far bigger status. Reading should be a made part of the daily regimen like exercising should be.

Most business leaders are known to read the first thing in the morning, or whenever time permits them and especially just before winding up the day.

Where do you begin?

In today’s day having a Kindle or an e-reader helps in having all reading material in one place and that is portable and accessible at any time. Understand what it is that you would want to apply in your field. And start from there. Periodicals, Trade and Industry Journals are another way of keeping abreast with industry trends, competitive positioning, and tracking thought leaders. There are easy online ways to subscribe to most leading ones.

The third biggest source is the digital media. It is the best way of keeping track of real-time news and developments across sectors, interests so conveniently without having to hunt for the information but using channels for the information to seek you! This includes online portals of newspapers, channels, magazines and even blogs. Following key opinion leaders and influencers on social media will help in identifying pressing topics.

How to go about reading seriously?

People wonder why they can’t seem to remember anything they read. Well, to derive any benefit of reading, it is important to read with a strategy.

When it comes to leaders, they don’t just delve into immediately reading from the first word and go on to finish it. It takes a lot more to truly gain from Reading. Instead of reading in a linear fashion, read the introduction and the conclusion and then try to get the pieces together that would form the flow. Begin with the index page and understand what the flow of the book is which will help you structure your thoughts.

The most important reason we read is to retain and retrieve information when required. Taking notes, underlining difficult words, new thoughts all help in understanding and retaining information. Devise a system to pull out that quote or an interesting perspective immediately. There are many ways to do it with the help of technology like using Evernote or OneNote.

Enthuse more people in your circle to read. Form or join a reading group to get going and stay motivated by sharing notes and setting reading goals.

And if you are still pondering if buying books is worth it, then imagine the money you will be saving by discovering avoidable and some really costly blunders already made by others!

With today being the #WorldBookDay, we hope you go ahead and make that resolve to read! Share this to grow the tribe! Write to us getintouch@cxolife.com.

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