Okay, let me start out by quoting Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker. “Successful people have libraries. The rest have big screen TVs.” Why is Reading Books Important? Think about it. The business world is constantly changing and with change either your business will grow or fail. Just to survive these changes, you have to continuously build your knowledge base and the best way to do that is through reading. It is an absolute must for all entrepreneurs.
“But Barb, I just have to know what Tiffany is going to do to Amber when she finds out she slept with her boyfriend and all her relatives!” Really? You’re trying to build a business here. Time is valuable and you need to assess how you use your time.
“But Barb, I read. I read all the time. Stephen King’s latest novel scared me so much I slept with a butcher knife and had my battalion of cats guard my bed at night.”
No, I’m not talking about brain candy here. Stephen King’s great when you want to escape the stress of everyday life, but what I’m talking about are books that make you smarter as an entrepreneur and push you towards another level.
Here are some tips to help you take your reading up a notch.
1. Make Time
Make reading one of your priorities just like eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, family time or working out. It should be fundamental to building your business and an aspect of your life, not an add-on.
Always bring a book with you wherever you go. You’ll constantly be met with opportunities throughout the day to whip out your book and read, for example, waiting at a crowded doctor’s office while people cough all over you. You have the added benefit of using it as a shield against germs.
How about commuting? Not only is it a great time to get in a few pages, it also gets the guy next to you to shut up and stop telling you about how he had this growth on his unmentionables removed.
Don’t ever let people tell you that reading isn’t important work because that’s simply not true.
You are the one who is control of how you spend your time. Like I mentioned above, do you really have to see what Tiffany’s going to do to Amber on the Housewives Of The Rich And Boring? Add to that, is it really necessary to be on the phone with your next door neighbor for five hours talking about Joe across the street who lets his poodle poop all over your lawn? Substitute these activities with something more productive like reading books that make you grow.
2. Read Books Above Your Level
In order to grow, you have to treat your brain like a muscle and give it a workout by taking on topics with the most weight and tension. Dive into subjects you don’t know much about and tangle with them. Don’t automatically go for the easy read. Tempting as it may be, the latest book in the series of “50 Shades of Slap And Tickle,” isn’t going to help you succeed in growing your mind or your business unless, of course, you’re peddling whips and feather dusters.
Also, bring yourself up to speed by using little tricks to tackle difficult books. For example, spoil the ending. What? Yes. Head on over to Wikipedia and ruin the ending. Really, who cares? Your job as a reader is to figure out why whatever happened. The what is less important.
By ruining the ending, it lets you focus on the meaning and whether or not you agree with what they’re saying. The first 50 pages of the book shouldn’t be a process of discovery. Work out whether you think the author is right and how it will benefit you.
Also, with every book you read, check out the footnotes or the bibliography to find your next one. By doing this, you are building your knowledge base in a particular subject and tracing it back to its core.
Having trouble getting started? Check out these books that every entrepreneur should read here.
3. Don’t Read Books Like You’re At School
You don’t have to memorize facts anymore just to prove you actually did the reading. Recalling what countries General What’s His Name invaded in the battle of Who Cares isn’t as essential as knowing what General What’s His Name learned from the battle. Toss away the useless facts and focus on the lessons learned and how you can apply it to yourself. Names and dates only provide background information and are of little benefit.
4. Look It Up
If you’re really challenging yourself, then you’ll find words and ideas you’re not familiar with. Don’t cheat yourself by pretending you know what they mean.
I hated this. Remember when you were in school and asked your Mom what a word meant and she said, “Look it up!” Didn’t you hate that? But, she was right.
So, I’m telling you the same thing. Look them up. Whether it’s on Dictionary.com, the Wikipedia smartphone app or an actual physical dictionary, it’s all good.
5. Don’t Forget To Take Notes
Actively, read your book. Don’t just read it and hope you’ll retain everything, particularly, if it’s a topic you’re unfamiliar with. You’ll remember how Crispin caressed Gwyneth’s cheek before he passionately kissed her wet ruby lips, but you might not remember so easily what an entrepreneurial mindset consists of.
Write notes in the margins and tag the pages with Post-It notes to indicate an idea you want to research further or a book that is suggested. Post-Its are relatively cheap compared to the amount of time you’ll be spending flipping the pages around trying to track something down.
Before you put the book away, go over what you marked. This brings them back into your memory and reinforces the author’s message and lets you remember the details if you need them.
6. Create An Anti-Library
No, it’s not an evil library as in the “anti-Christ.” So, what is an anti-library? It’s a library of unread books which is what a good library is loaded with.
Stop thinking of reading as a way to impress your friends and show them what a genius you are. That’s not what it’s meant to do. An anti- library’s sole purpose is to remind you of how much you still need to learn. Make it a habit to add to it often.
7. Use It Or Lose It
When you’ve finished reading a book, don’t just plop it back on the shelf and move on to the next one. Try out what you’ve learned in your business. Offer a great quote at a business meeting or stick it into a memo. It not only makes you remember it but gives it context and meaning to what you’re working on.
Also, express and investigate what you’re reading. It’s the only way to make those flickers of thought floating around in your brain coherent so you can apply them to other things.
Taking something from one thing and applying it in another is quite powerful. Often, it’s how breakthroughs happen and what successful entrepreneurs do.
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