I came across a blog post this morning on Medium written by Jon Westenberg titled “Here’s my Secret Weapon: I Read”. Below I have extracted my favourite passages from the post that I’d like to expand further on.
“Running a business, being a writer, living a full life — these things depend on the knowledge that we can gain and use. What we call following our gut, is really us being subconsciously guided by every piece of information we’ve ever consumed, shaping our instincts and ideas and forming us.
I read books about business, and startups, and entrepreneurship — because there’s always something new to learn, something that could shift my point of view or expose me to a different way of thinking. And because when I want to quit, the paths and advice of those who’ve gone before me act as a guide.
I read, because there’s so much more to the world than my corner of it. If I never tried to find it, I’d be limiting myself.”
I agree with the author’s point of view; I’d also like to think that my secret weapon is that I read. I mean, there must be some value in it as otherwise, every successful leader I’ve meet or read about wouldn’t waste their time with it.
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
While reading through the above section I’ve quoted, I instantly thought of something I read about a long time ago, although I’m exactly sure as to when or where. It’s this idea of growing into the person you need to become in order to reach your goals and aspirations. I’ll use starting and running a business as an example. Anyone can start a business, trust me, it’s not hard. But running it is an entirely different story. While it is true that anyone can start their own business, it is also true that the same person must grow into the person who can successfully turn over a profit year after year, while enjoying the process. When I refer to ‘grow into’ I’m not trying to be philosophical, I’m meaning acquire the knowledge, or become more experienced in both business and life.
The best way to do this is to pick up a good book. You’re quite literally holding someone else’s life experience and guidance in your hand, over the next few days you can see the world through their eyes, avoid the mistakes they made and perhaps cut down the learning curve in whatever subject you’re studying. Reading books written by experienced authors in life will allow you avoid many of the common pitfalls and truly focus on what is important to you.
This principle can be true of fiction too. I’m currently reading a Japanese novel from 1935, titled ’Musashi’ written by Eiji Yoshikawa. While Miyamoto Musashi was an expert Japanese swordsman, the greatest of his time, arguably ever, the book is a fictionalised account of his life. I’m not even halfway through the book (it’s quite a read), but I have already learnt so much, not just about Japanese culture, or Swordsmanship, but about mastering the mind and achieving mastery in a craft. Musashi himself has written a book titled ‘The Five Rings’ circa 1645, which is all about the art of strategy and is a widely read book among business leaders, due to the strategic concepts much like Sun Tzu famous ‘The Art of War’.
Of course, not everyone will be interested in Japanese Swordsmen, or strategy; this is but one example. Books can be found to suit anybody’s interests and needs, the one thing I find fascinating about them is one of the reasons I love music so much. Even though everyone will be reading the same text, we each come away with an entirely different interpretation and meaning of the book, which often can have a significant impact on our perspective and how we choose to live our lives.