It is so commonly said that “Leaders are Readers”. It’s a truth that cannot be dismissed lightly. With the tyranny of the urgent pressing upon us, who has time to read?
If I can be honest with you for a moment, we ALWAYS make time for the things that we consider to be important. Reading is important – but you may have forgotten why.
Let me help you remember.
Important Benefits of Reading That You’ve Probably Forgotten
1. Reading gives you new ideas.
This is one of the benefits of reading that could really be useful in many situations.
It was summer so I decided to take on some lighter reading. I picked up a copy of Ivanhoe. This is a fun story that includes tales of knights – and surprisingly, includes Robin Hood and his ‘merry men’ among the characters.
At work, my responsibilities often require me to help resolve conflict which, when it works, is greatly rewarding. But this one day, it was tough. Both of the ladies involved in the conflict had a very different version of events that led to the disagreement. I didn’t know what the truth might be. It was obvious that both could not be telling the truth. So either one OR both were lying to me.
What it seemed that they wanted was the other to receive punishment. It worked out that I was reading the portion of Ivanhoe, where Robin Hood was in a very similar situation. “How is Robin going to solve this?”
What Robin did was, he met with each woman separately and then asked them what punishment they would inflict on the other. Then he called them both and gave them the penalty that they described. In other words: they picked their own punishment.
I did something similar, and after they picked their jaws off the ground, they received what they had meant for the other person. This would NOT work if it was how I solved my work problems every time, but it did work this particular time.
Thanks to the help of Robin Hood.
2. Reading helps you relax.
Being a leader is often a very stressful position. Success or failure rests on your shoulders. You love it though – that is why you lead. But you also need to find a healthy outlet. Reading can be that outlet. It is better than watching movies or television because, while those mediums enable you to check out, reading keeps you checked in while you are relaxing.
3. Reading helps you be a better communicator.
In order to engage your organization and enable them to chase after a vision, you MUST communicate your message effectively. Reading can give you new ways to illustrate your vision so that others can engage in the process. Some may go for sport-related stories in order to understand your principles; but others will need examples from the world of art or science.
Reading can give you a wide variety of stories and principles that will make your vision come alive.
4. Reading exercises your brain.
This is one of the most powerful benefits of reading. Let me explain with a story.
A woman that I used to know had a family history of dementia. While periodically she showed some minor symptoms, her life was not really negatively impacted by the disease. Most days of the week, she exercised her brain with crossword puzzles and reading good books. She did this deep into her retirement years.
One week, she became sick. So instead of reading, she sat in her recliner and watched television for a full week straight. After that, she never recovered her passion for reading, and it was not long before the symptoms became very pronounced. Eventually, her family needed to find a place that would help her stay safe.
Exercising your brain is invaluable.
5. Reading stretches your imagination.
Too many in our country make up their mind on an issue without thinking or researching about it before making their opinions. They simply go with them. Reading can help you stretch your imagination so you begin to see other sides of the pressing issues of our day.
While it would be better to actually interact with someone from the other camp, a book can offer you the opportunity to look at different opinions without conflicting emotions that come with a face-to-face meeting.
From looking through Facebook posts, I think many folks would benefit our society from logging off the web and logging into a book.
6. Reading gives a common language and story.
Whenever my family goes on vacation, we often find some classic book to listen to or read together. This gives us something to interact with each other while eating or playing.
Sometimes the book comes with a fun catch phrase like, “I’ll eat my head” (from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens) that stay with us for years. Other times, we can discuss on how something made us feel or think. As we have all heard or read the same story, we have a common base to start from. This is one of the benefits of reading that’s great for friends or families.
7. Reading brings tranquility.
We live in a loud world. Radios, television, movies, sirens, billboards: they’re all are shouting at us to pay attention to them. We live in an era of over-stimulation, and so our minds become exhausted easily. But to find a hammock in the shade and a good book, surrounded by the sound of birds chirping and squirrels playing, makes reading a little mini vacation of solitude and silence.
8. Reading is fun.
While in school, we are forced to read books that maybe we would not have selected for ourselves. The chore of reading them on a timeline can cause stress. Suddenly, we forget that reading was meant to be fun.
As children, we loved it if someone read to us and we enjoyed reading for others. Try to remember the fun of reading. Find something light-hearted that will stimulate your lips to smile often.
9. Reading makes us wiser.
I have a passion for leadership books that tell me stories about how obstacles were overcome and enemies vanquished. My bend is to look for some common trait that I can pull out and use when an obstacle appears and threatens to overwhelm me, or my organization.
My mind searches the memories of those stories and more often than not, I can find a solution to whatever I am facing. Many think that I am wise when I present my solution. But the truth is that I am just well-read. You can be, too.
10. Reading keeps us focused.
There are many good causes in this world. But if we are not careful, we can be dragged in multiple directions all at the same time, to watch our lives being ripped apart. But when we read, it’s just us and the book – nothing else. In reading, it’s just you and the words coursing through your mind, as they shape and exercise that most critical of muscles.
The printing press revolutionized the world. Suddenly, more people could share their thoughts and ideas. Then, innovations started to become the norm as these ideas expanded and split and then expanded again.
You can be part of this revolution by picking up a book. Visit your favorite book store or library today to get going. Change your world.