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Leaders are Readers

06 Jun

Billy Joe 057 (1 of 1)Reading helps us to explore the world. I can remember as a child going into the library at Webster Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota and leaving with books to read. I never checked them out, but I had them. Upon my return, the Librarian would always ask, “Billy Joe, why don’t you check the books out?” Always in a hurry, the thought of checking the books out would somehow keep this engaged young reader from his weekly exploration of the world.

I love poetry, biographies, Dr. Seuss, and the compilation of Dickinson and Thoreau, books that engage the intellect and stimulate stronger analytical thinking skills. Today, I still read two to three books a month and I always write in them.

There are some interesting studies and statistics among American readers. One third of High School graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives; 42% of college graduates never read another book after college; 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year; 70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last 5 years. Studies have shown, 72% of American adults read a book in the past year for fun, while the percentage of Millennials, ages 18 to 29, was higher at 80%.

Reading can improve the memory. If your looking for a way to improve your memory and concentration and to relieve stress, reading can help you. “The brain stimulating activities from reading have shown to slow down cognitive decline in old age with people who participated in more mentally stimulating activities over their lifespans.”

The 8 benefits of reading: 1. Mental stimulation, 2. Stress reduction, 3. Knowledge, 4. Vocabulary Expansion, 5. Memory improvement, 6. Stronger Analytical thinking skills, 7. Improved focus and concentration, 8. Better writing skills.

With these thoughts in mind, taking a reading break can be as important as stopping to snack on your daily energy carb. A student asked me the question, “What do you personally get from reading?” With an enormous amount of thoughts running through my head, I came up with the following answer: “I read because it allows me the opportunity to examine, explore, exercise my thoughts, to stay in the now, to expand my vocabulary, to find myself in someone else’s words, to place myself in the other person’s place, to simply have some enjoyment.”

I believe that not all personal growth is organic. My experience has taught me that to grow, we must prospect in intellectual mines that others have cultivated and learn there. Finding lessons and inspiration in the success of others, is part of the real circle of life. We cannot not be afraid to LEAP into the destiny of our future, because fear is living without hope attached to it.

Someone once said, “The man who knows how to read and doesn’t, has no advantage over the man who doesn’t know how to read.”

Even as an average student, reading helped me to maintain an above average mindset. It was through books that I found the inspiration to climb the intellectual ladder of powerful thought, that helped to shape my future.

Zig Ziglar’s “See You At The Top” was one of my first motivational reads as a ninth grader. My Upward Bound teacher, Alfreda Garibaldi, helped me to realize that books and reading could help give me the confidence to boldly go, where many men had gone before; into the expanded world of reading.

As a leader, encouraging others to read has been a focal point of my personal development as a leader. Benjamin Franklin’s provocative quote on learning simply states’ “Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.” And just like the leaders before us, we must continue the quest for strong intellectual thought and learning. Let me close with a favorite quote from Dr. Seuss, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go.”

Remember this, your going to great places, so keep standing on the Rock! And enjoy your next read!

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