J.N. Whiddon emphasizes the importance of enriching your reading life because if you read — you succeed. It’s that simple.
The CEO and founder of The Old School program and curriculum has read more than 500 books to distill what it takes to achieve leadership success in the pages of his book, through his mentoring curriculum, and he has now established a movement based on knowledge gained from reading biographies, history books, business books, novels and more. Broad and deep reading habits can sharpen intelligence, make you a better communicator, and improve emotional intelligence, among other benefits — proving that readers are indeed, leaders.
Don’t know how to get started? Whiddon shares some practical advice to help you become a voracious reader and a great leader:
1. Start each day reading. Reading first thing in the morning is refreshing, stimulating, and allows you to always say you accomplished something else today — even if nothing else great happens. Avoid telling yourself that you’ll do it later because you won’t. Not consistently, at least. Forming this daily habit is a discipline that will pay off for you again and again, both in your personal and professional life.
2. Define “reading time.” This time should be used for reading books, not just periodicals. Contrary to popular belief, you can read several books at once just like you can multitask at work or watch different TV shows throughout the day. “I prefer the Faith/Family and Psychology/Sociology genres in the morning, Economics/Finance at lunch, and History/Fiction and all others in the evening,” says Whiddon. “Fit your reading to your mood.”
3. E-reader or hard copy? The obvious old-school answer here is hard copy. But even Whiddon admits that his personal reading reached a voracious pitch in early 2009 after he purchased his first e-reader. “The ability to download a book within seconds, at a generally cheaper price, and carry all of my books with me, allowing me to choose reading material depending on my mood, trumps the nice feel of a paper book for me,” he says. “But to redeem some of my old-school cred, I always buy the hardback version for my bookshelf.”
4. 25 minutes, twice per day. That is all it takes to read 25 books per year. This assumes an average book size of 250 pages at a reading pace of only about 20 pages per hour. You can also accomplish this by reading fifty minutes at one sitting each day. Here’s an easy trick: The number of books you wish to read per year is equal to half the number of minutes you read per day. (E.g., if you want to read 50 books per year, then spend fifty minutes twice per day reading.)
“If you read — you succeed,” says Whiddon. “It is that simple.”
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