Leaders Are Readers: The Importance Of Developing the Reading Habit

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

     – Harry S. Truman

Given the pressures of the job, you might think that a President wouldn’t have time to read, yet it was said that as a lover of history and books, President Truman would go home with two or three books that he would read every weekend.

The same is true of modern-day Presidents. Even during the toughest times of his Presidency, Barack Obama read almost every night for at least an hour. The New York Times reported that he felt it engaged his mind in a new way or helped him escape the stress of the day.

Politicians aren’t alone. Bill Gates said that on a recent vacation, he read 30 books. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban says sometimes he can read 5 to 6 hours a day.

Yet, we are learning that fewer and fewer Americans read regularly. A survey by the National Endowment for the Arts found that only 43% of adults read any kind of literature that was not required for work or school. That’s the lowest rate in three decades.

Warren Buffet was once asked about his keys to success. He said it was because he read 500 pages every day. He compared it to compound interest. The more you read, the more you learn.

How do these busy people do it? They frequently say that reading is a cornerstone of their day.

Why do they do it?

We become better thinkers when we read.

When he was CEO of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt told an interviewer, “I’m a learner. I never pretend to know all the answers, and I want to continue to be fast on my feet.”

Reading keeps our brain healthy and improve our memory.

Brain scans show that as we relate to characters in stories, we make neural connections   that last for days after we stop reading.

We become less introverted when we read.

The stereotype of the person with his nose in a book doesn’t hold up. The more you read, the more you have something to say in conversations.

Reading makes us better communicators.

Language proficiency increases the more we read, and that skillset extends to our abilities as a speaker and a writer.

Reading relieves stress.

A study in the UK compared reading to other forms of exercise. They found reading helped lower heart rates and relieved tension in as few as six minutes.

So, despite our busy schedules, how do we find the time to read?

(1) make it a priority. Set aside sometime every day to read.

(2) make books accessible. Use the library, order E-books that are available to you during ‘downtime.”

(3) Give a book 3 chapters. If it doesn’t interest you, move on to another book. If you are not interested in the content, you are less likely to connect with what you are reading.

(4) Set reading goals. Challenge yourself to finish one book this month.

(5) Join a book club. Being held accountable will increase your chance of developing the reading habit. 

Personally, I’ve tried to increase the amount I read. I’d love to know what you are reading.

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