I have a client who is concerned about her intellectual growth. She asked how I came up with so many ideas for my weekly sales tips. I shared with her that reading was my greatest resource. One of my favorite quotes is from Margaret Fuller: “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” Margaret Fuller, a nineteenth century American journalist, editor, critic, translator, and women’s rights advocate, read her way to success.  Stephen Covey, in his book The 8th Habit, discusses the importance of reading today. He emphasizes that this activity is a core way to stimulate the mind, which is the center of learning.

Three reading disciplines

There are lots of ways and reasons to read. To get the most out of this important resource, I find it valuable to break reading into these three disciplines.

Breath of Knowledge – A varied range of reading material creates a strong knowledge base. If you find the classics or more technical works hard to read in print, listen to them on audio. A couple years ago, I helped teach a course on language in which we listened to the Harvard Classics . Since then, I have been learning from the great works of Cicero, Dickens, and Melville, to name a few, via audio books.

Pure Enjoyment – Reading your favorite books and authors is a good way to relax and be inspired. eBooks readers put a vast amount of material available at your fingertips.  I keep a collection of my preferred contemporary writers, like John Grisham, David Baldacci, and Michael Crichton, on my Kindle.

Read to Learn – The best way to learn from a book is the good old fashion way — read it in print. Purchase books so you can highlight your favorite passages. I also recommend writing down a collection of your thoughts or meaningful quotes from each book and saving them. I call this practice, reading to own.

Build castles of possibilities

Reading is an important resource. Business writers I especially admire include Stephen Covey, Jim Collins, Malcom Gladwell, and Patrick Lencioni. Whether in audio, electronic, or print format, reading fuels the imagination and develops the mind. Through words you can learn so much in a short time.  As the Nigerian poet Ben Okri so beautifully writes, “It [reading] takes the raw material of the mind and builds castles of possibilities.”

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