“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.”
— Jim Rohn
Numerous studies reveal that avid readers are more likely to earn five times the annual income of those who spend little or no reading time. I believe great leaders are avid readers. The most extraordinary thought leaders in any century amassed large personal libraries; they are numbered among the great minds of their time because of their insatiable desire to learn what was in the minds of others.
Leadership advisor Mike Myatt writes, “All great leaders have one thing in common: They read voraciously. Did you know that the average American only reads one book a year? Worse than this is that 60% of average Americans only get through the first chapter. Some of the most successful leaders throughout history were known to read one book every single day.” (1)
4 Reasons to Become an Avid Reader
“Think before you speak. Read before you think.”
— Fran Lebowitz
1. Avid Readers Sustain Focus
Reading requires focus. As an avid reader, I read 20 pages a day in each book I read. I usually schedule reading portions from two or three books a day. If you read only one book at a time completing 20 pages a day, you will read approximately 7300 pages in a year; that’s about 24 books containing 300 pages each. Consistency is the key to being an avid reader.
2. Avid Readers are More Time Conscious
I enter the books I read into my calendar as I would any appointment. The most successful people I know are avid readers and value their time. I learned to schedule my reading and writing throughout the year (allowing for reflection and notes).
3. Avid Readers are More reflective
Some studies show that an avid reader will be more likely to stop and reflect on a page or an entire chapter they’ve just read, assessing whether or not the author’s concepts, ideas, or conclusions are helpful to them.
Reading the thoughts of others adds another perspective allowing us to expand our understanding by seeing through someone else’s eyes. The habit of reflection sharpens our thinking and can increase self-awareness.
4. Avid Readers Tend to be More Goal-Oriented
I have yet to meet a successful leader or manager who isn’t goal-oriented. Most leaders I know are avid readers often set reading goals for themselves, something I do as well. This year (2022), I’m on pace to read 50 books by the year’s end.
Following Mark Cole’s advice, “The question is not if you should be reading, but rather what you should be reading,” I carefully choose each book for its connection to my life purpose. I find this type of goal setting to be self-motivating.
5 Psychological Benefits of Reading Regularly
According to Psychology Today, “reading is more than something students have to do at school, more than just another leisure pastime such as watching TV. The more we study reading and readers, the more we learn about the lifelong cognitive and social benefits of reading.
People who read a lot generally:
Read better. Not too surprising, perhaps, but being able to read better makes reading more pleasurable. If you read more, a positive, self-reinforcing cycle develops.
Get smarter. Readers develop stronger vocabularies and a greater fund of general knowledge, which is reflected in actual gains in IQ scores.
Develop better brains. Readers develop thicker cortexes (the part of your brain that handles higher-order thinking), which provide extra cognitive reserves and better withstand neurological injuries and damage. Reading a lot may even help to slow the onset of dementia. In short, reading improves cognition throughout the lifespan.
Develop more empathy. Some of the newest research in the field suggests that people who read well-written fiction may come to understand and sympathize with other people more. This could be because good fiction takes us deeply into the experiences and thoughts of others, often people who aren’t at all like us. It challenges our expectations and preconceptions, and encourages us to be less judgmental.
Have better and more productive lives. NGOs promoting literacy around the world have noticed changes that occur in adults when they learn to read. Learning to read as an adult leads to a host of good outcomes for themselves, their families, and their societies.” (2)
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”
— Margaret Fuller
(1) “What all great leaders have in common” – Mike Myatt https://bit.ly/3FGXhnJ
(2) Psychology Today “Does Reading Really Matter?” https://bit.ly/3HiQuBd