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Why Reading Makes You a Better Leader

Thursday, May 10, 2018

While life can get crazy busy for us all, there are plenty of open windows between commitments to devote to learning and personal growth.

Think of how much time you spend on social media. Or idle time at airports, the DMV, at or on your morning commute. A recent article I read claims the average American checks his or her phone up to 80 times a day. Some of us do even more than that!

The power hidden in that extra 20 minutes might be the margin of improvement that makes you a better leader, and here’s why.

Reading isn’t about making time, it’s about reclaiming it.

A few minutes here and there can be invested in growing and advancing your personal and professional life. Aren't you glad maintaininga reading habit doesn’t mean hauling a bunch of paperbacks around in a book bag. Audiobooks, online blogs, eReaders and eBooks are great advantages to consume information quickly. So waiting at the doctor's office and waiting to pick-up your kids are perfect moments to absorb some great content.

Much like exercise, reading is about preparation and habit.

A healthy workout regimen isn’t about how much time you spend at the gym but the consistency of the routine that delivers results. Building muscle is a perfect example of what repetition over time achieves. Don’t underestimate the power of plugging away at a good novel. It might surprise you how fast you can finish a book! The average person reads at a rate of 300 words per minute, which is fast enough to finish a 200 page book, uninterrupted, in a little over 3 hours.

Let your taste dictate what you read, and pickup more than one book.

Don’t make reading a chore. Unless you are still in college, there is no required reading, which means you can choose something fun!Don’t solely restrict your reads to educational or self-help material either. One study showed that leaders who read fiction have more ability to empathize and relate to fellow human beings. Here’s what the UK’s Telegraph says happens to a reader’s brain on fiction:

“The studies out of Emory University found that ‘being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading [...]”

These changes related directly to one’s ability to discern emotional cues from people’s faces and to feel what the other wasexperiencing. This means that as leaders, there is immediate ROI for our relationships when our nose is stuck in a book.

Leading by example

As with most things, when we demonstrate a passion and continued interest in learning through our daily habits, our teams are far more likely to follow suit.

A Pew Research study from 2015 found that the percent of American adults who’ve read a single book, digital or print, dropped 7 percent from the previous year’s report.

Sadly, with binge watching live-streamed TV shows on the rise, it’s getting easier and easier to create bad habits that disrupt our sleep patterns and make us unhealthy. If we can counteract or even temper our TV habit with a reading one, we will see tenfold the results of this investment.

Great content is everywhere

If you don’t want to invest hundreds of dollars into a home library, consider checking out online free content, books from your local library or even an audiobook subscription service. Or buy used books or eBooks through Amazon to save a few bucks. You should be running out of excuses by now for why you won’t reinforce areading habit. It’s for everyone, and its benefits are far reaching for your work life and relationships. Don’t let your busy schedule stop you. Keep great content accessible and enjoy reading.

To your excellence,
Coach Greg

 
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