Want to be smarter? Don’t read books.

As professionals, we are always on the look out for knowledge and inspiration. I often see social posts, articles or have discussions with friends or colleagues focused on what books they are reading or books that they recommend. There’s a lot of great books out there and also a lot of less than great books. We’re all busy people, so we want to ensure that the time we choose to invest in reading pays off — literally, when it comes to professional book choices.

If I just simply said — don’t read books, people would likely think I was an idiot (get in line). But, I do kinda mean it. Here’s why…

If you read the same things as your friends and colleagues, you’re going to be thinking the same things as everyone else. While that might make you smarter, you are also limiting your opportunity to think differently. Your quest for knowledge could be holding back your sense of innovation.

So instead of reading books, try writing one. What would it be about? Not talking about novels, here — but a professional, business book. Based on what you know, what you have experienced, what you actually think about stuff… what would you write your book about?

It’s probably not that easy to answer. But that’s the good part. If you started blocking out your book, you’d identify a number of things you know really well. As you define your vision around your expertise and opinions, likely reinforcing or concretizing a number of ideas and concepts in your mind — this can only make you more capable, articulate and confident. Those are three things that go a long, long way.

But there is another side to this — as you go through the process of blocking out, writing and advancing this book of yours, you are inevitably going to stumble in some places. You’ll find and expose things where you may not know very much. The path you take may uncover gaps where you need to know more in order to really fulfill your vision. And now you pick up a book, or watch some webinars, or download some podcasts. Now you know what you need.

The benefit here, is that you found it on your own terms. Not through a recommendation, but through a process of organizing your own thoughts. These are paths of leadership and influence, improving your own knowledge while building something uniquely yours.

So, what’s your book about?

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