Hello best life seekers!
Are you looking for an edge to get ahead? The best place to start is by looking at the habits of the truly successful – people who gain success and keep it. If you’ve ever read articles on the top habits of Fortune 500 CEOs and self-made billionaires, you’ll see one trait sticking out: they read. A lot.
Before you settle down and finally read or re-read the complete set of Harry Potter books, it might serve you better to ask what these successful people actually read and why they read in the first place. Otherwise, that beloved series might be a waste of time and money.
Time and Resouces
To succeed in anything over the long haul requires a person to master the use of two related concepts: Time and resouces. Time is a resource but it’s finite. Every person born receives the same 24 hours in a day. How we use that time varies. Resources can be almost anything but people usually focus on money.
However, successful people, from humble or wealthy beginnings, prioritize education. This doesn’t mean years of school. It means time spent learning. Successful people love to learn but they especially love to learn about their chosen field and how to get ahead. They have discovered that one of the best and time-efficient ways to learn is through reading.
A Lifetime in 7 hours
Successful people read constantly, sometimes for pleasure but mostly to learn. They read up on their field and advancements in it, about management and investment techniques, personal development, and certainly about their competition, peers and predecessors. They read books, magazines, news and Twitter feeds.
But with purpose.
Most people read for pleasure, not purpose. If you love to read, great. I have friends, family members and colleagues who constantly have their noses in a book or their eyes glued to an e-book. Some are fairly cultured and sophisticated people but even if they are reading literary authors or serial mystery novelists, they’re only reading fiction and it shows up negatively in their paychecks, their prospects for career advancement, and their ability to live financially free. Money isn’t the only measure of success – it’s just easy to quantify. These wonderful people may have successful-sounding titles or careers but most are strapped with crazy debt and stress and feel like they’re either treading water or falling behind. They’re praying for raises or a better job. Does that sound like success?
Success is not easy because it requires a keen use of time and resources. To reiterate, reading in and of itself is not a key to success. People mistake this all the time. They hear, for example, that Warren Buffett reads constantly but rarely ask what he’s reading and why. He’s an investment and business genius and he has regularly noted that what he spends most of his day reading are company financial reports and the Wall Street Journal. His favorite book is The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. He even has favored editions which tells you how many times he has read this one book and the value he places on it.
What’s so great about that investing book? That one book by Benjamin Graham distilled years of professional research and study into something read over a weekend. Reading it saved Warren Buffett years compared to how long it took Graham to amass the data, synthesize it and hone the principles he gleaned. Similarly, reading a researcher’s study can save you the lifetime of research you would otherwise had to have done. Reading about successful people, people in our field, works by those in our field, and about strategies for success and applicable skills can let us stand on the shoulders of giants and reach farther than them.
The very successful man or woman reads to learn and hone their craft. It is a time investment to yield profitable results. Want to be successful? Read with the end of furthering your dreams in mind. This is the key to reading that people overlook.
Want to get ahead? Read. But read intelligently the things that will further your endeavors and teach you the skills you will need to do so. Success is multi-dimensional in its aspects – from specific knowledge in a field to business management and people skills to personal development. Successful people read in all these areas. This information isn’t difficult to acquire and can be found in books, magazines, news, trade publications or reports, etc..
Most people complain about a lack of time for reading. This goes to the skill of time management. Back when I routinely clocked 75+ hour weeks at the law firm, I read voraciously, probably the most in my life because I wanted out of the 75+ hour rat race. But my reading was a mixture of audiobooks, websites, podcasts, YouTube videos, e-books and physical library books. All were chosen for how they might help me become financially independent and succssful.
Information is everywhere. Now we have auditory means for imbibing it easily. Overdrive, an excellent library app, puts amazing works at your fingertips and on the go in e-book and audio formats. Long commute? Listen or read to get ahead. Work in an office where you can wear headphones? Switch off the music playlist and listen to something that will advance your dreams. At home? Turn off the TV and pick up a book or have one playing while you do chores or cook. Ignore the silly cat videos on YouTube and queue up tips on marketing, sales, HR, or finance – whatever you need to get started on your dreams.
The Curious Mind
At the law firm I met many “successful” lawyers who hated their jobs and wanted out. When I asked them what they were reading or learning about, invariably I got a blank stare or some fluff fiction work. Now and again someone was reading a biography or historical book. They were all locked into their hated jobs, hoping to stay employed and someday pay off their massive student debt and mortgages before they die. They weren’t doing anything to get out. It was like they thought law school had taught them everything they needed to succeed and they could stop learning. Their only hope was a lateral job transfer to a firm with the same crappy hours and pay but possibly better work conditions. This is not success.
Success is enjoying the way you’ve chosen to spend your time and feeling good about where you are and your prospects for the future. It is a sense of ease and well-being related toward our chosen profession or lifestyle. Not a salary, not a title, not a house or car. Success is a label we can apply to ourselves or others but it’s highly subjective when we regard ourselves and where we think we are.
If you’re not feeling ease in your chosen vocation or a sense of well-being in general, success is probably something you’re still chasing. Grab it by reading about how to get out of the rat race. You’ll grow yourself larger and develop the skills and means to liberate yourself. That is success.
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