If you’ve been paying any attention to the news over the past few years, the general consensus seems to agree the act of reading longform prose is in decline. As avid readers and authors, the statistics make Angel and I cringe sometimes. But we’re optimistic for another reason.
Why? A readership catastrophe is really just a leadership opportunity. In other words, for people who know how to respond effectively, any “catastrophe” is just another way of saying “there’s an opportunity for improvement here.”
Angel and I have been avid readers for decades: self-improvement, business, history, spirituality, philosophy, current events, fiction, and then some. Most people think of us as writers, but we know the only way to be a good writer is to be a great reader first. Reading has enabled us to learn and grow into the leadership roles we fill today via our blog, books, seminars and coaching.
We’re not alone either. We know very few leaders who are uninterested in reading, regardless of their industry or profession. And many of them read even more frequently than we do.
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The bottom line is that all readers are likely to become leaders in some capacity, even if they are simply leaders within their families and close social circles, or leaders of their own peace of mind and happiness. And with reading in decline, readers possess a comparative advantage in all walks of life.
The biggest advantage that reading gives us, I think, is the fact that it’s one of the most efficient ways to acquire new information, and we all need a lot of everyday information to keep things in perspective and seize good opportunities. But reading does more than just give us a new set of tools for thinking; it actually upgrades all of our existing intellectual tools as well, especially our problem-solving and analytical capabilities.
As readers, we not only learn more, but we are also more proficient at deciphering misinformation—our habit of reading gradually improves our judgment. And being able to correctly size up a situation is crucial for being effective at whatever we’re doing.
Speaking for myself, I know my reading habit has sharpened my edge. I’m always enamored when I’m working on a puzzling issue and some out-of-left-field piece of information comes to mind from something I’ve read that helps me put all the pieces together.
The mind truly is like a muscle, and just like every muscle in the human body, it needs to be exercised to gain strength. It needs to be trained daily to grow and develop gradually over time. If you haven’t pushed your mind in dozens of little, positive ways over time, of course it’ll crumble on the day things get overwhelmingly stressful.
And the best way to start training your mind?
You guessed it…
Those people who take the time and initiative to invest in themselves daily are the only ones who continually grow stronger from the inside out. They are the ones who ultimately thrive against the odds. Just take a look at any widely acclaimed scholar, entrepreneur or historical figure you can think of. Formal education or not, you’ll find that she or he is a product of continuous self-investment, which nine out of ten times involves some form of daily reading.
Small Daily Reading Challenge
If you’ve been slacking off in the reading department, I have a small challenge for you…
Start reading some daily affirmations to yourself every single day. Let it be a 60-second ritual that makes reading fun, rewarding, and immediately accessible to you again.
Affirmations are one of the simplest and most powerful tools for staying on track in life. A mind well trained with the right affirmations has the right thoughts queued up and ready for retrieval at a moment’s notice.
One of our course students, who graduated with a PhD a couple years ago from one of the most prestigious universities in our country, is now an executive for one of the world’s fastest growing tech companies. Throughout grade school and high school she desperately wrestled with a form of dyslexia that made reading and writing a monumental challenge. She spent kindergarten through 12th grade in language-based ESE classes. And during a parent-teacher conference when she was in 10th grade, one of her ESE teachers informed her parents that it was extremely unlikely she would ever receive a high school diploma.
So how did she do it? How did she push herself to rise up and overcome the odds?
“Affirmations,” she confirmed with me when I interviewed her recently for a new project Angel and I are working on. “The daily affirmation rituals you and Angel set me up with, and held me accountable to, changed everything! While it may sound cliché to some people, it’s absolutely not—affirmations are powerful tools! I literally read and re-read exactly what I needed to, every single day, to move my life forward.”
So today, I challenge you to begin this ritual in your own life. Here’s a handpicked selection of affirmations inspired by quotes from our newest book, 1,000 Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently, that you can use as starting point:
• “The biggest and most complex obstacle I will ever have to overcome is my mind. If I can overcome that, I can overcome anything.”
• “I cannot control exactly what happens in life, but I can control how I respond to it all. In my response is my greatest power.”
• “I have to accept whatever comes my way, and the only important thing is that I meet it with the best I have to give.”
• “I will stop focusing on how stressed I am and remember how blessed I am. Complaining won’t change my reality, but a positive attitude will.”
• “Being positive does not mean ignoring the negative. Being positive means overcoming the negative. There is a big difference between the two.”
Featured image: @anna2002 via Twenty20