The Oldest Trick in the Book

Have you ever, in an interview or while speaking with a group of your peers, been asked the question, “In what ways are you working to improve your professional performance?” How about your personal performance? If you are struggling to come up with an answer, let me ask you something else: What book are you currently reading?

A decade ago, I never would have considered picking up a book for personal or professional pleasure or growth. In fact, it took several years of poor choices, destroying relationships, and flunking out of college before I finally began reading for personal growth. This newfound interest in reading for self-improvement came after someone close to me suggested that I read the Bible for five minutes every day — just five minutes. Amazingly, I actually started reading. Five minutes, every single night, with the hope that it would help me grow as an individual. What happened next shouldn’t surprise anyone: I actually began turning my life around. Of course, it wasn’t just the regular five-minute periods of reading that got me to change my ways and create opportunities for myself. My self-improvement took a lot of hard work and time, but the Bible was providing me with a valuable sense of direction.

Once I began to notice vast improvements on a personal level, I had a revelation: If reading for personal growth had helped that much, couldn’t reading for professional growth do the same? So, I began reading books written by experienced professionals, and I have seen positive results! Again, I didn’t see professional improvements overnight, but with each book I was becoming better educated and even more confident. Starting off in the Final Packaging room at Cook Medical, I was told by a lot of doubters that I would never make my dream sales job a reality. I began reading sales and leadership books, including “EntreLeadership” by Dave Ramsey, “Little Red Book of Selling” by Jeffery Gitomer, and “How to Become a Rain Maker” by Jeffery Fox. My confidence grew, my knowledge expanded, and I was learning numerous approaches to leadership and sales. Ultimately, with hard work and a little help from Ramsey, Gitomer, Fox, and many other authors, that sales position did become a reality.

Today, I am still reading for personal and professional growth. I am currently reading the Bible for the second time through in an effort to stay on track in my personal life. As a small-business owner, I am reading books on subjects I know very little about in order to grow professionally and improve my business. Most recently, I completed “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” by David Meerman Scott, as I had no idea how to best go about marketing my business’s new product, CLOAK’D. The book has helped me tremendously. Without the book’s guidance, I would have fallen flat on my face and failed time and time again before getting it right. By taking the time to read-up on the subject, I am now able to more effectively launch the marketing campaign for CLOAK’D. In addition, I am better aware of common mishaps and possible obstacles the business may face in marketing a product.

I find it fascinating that industry leaders publicly share all of their secrets and ways to riches and success. Take advantage of these gifts! Why try to re-invent the wheel? Propel yourself higher and faster by reading for both professional and personal growth. The next time an interviewer or your peers ask you what you are doing to improve personally or professionally, you’ll be prepared and excited to answer!

You may even find that reading reduces stress, motivates you, and gives you more confidence.

Quick tip: A great way to grow personally and professionally is to begin reading books written by the experienced. Win by giving yourself a head start.