You’ve all heard the phrase,
All Leaders are Readers.
And this is true. If you’re hoping to lead, you need to be hungry to be grow. If you want to become more than the person you are now, then by definition you’ll need an outside source to draw from. Many people wonder what it would be like to meet great figures of history. But if you had a chance to go back and talk to them, don’t you think that they would sound a lot like the books that they wrote?
Refer back to the picture above, Newton said it best, “If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
There are so many things that we could delve into in a discussion on reading. There have been a plethora of tips, pointers, strategies on reading available. Some are great! Some are less so. I have even spent a day in a speed reading course when I started my college studies. It was dubiously useful to say the least.
Here are three things that I think are vitally important to reading. Here they are, your mindset before, your activity while reading, and your remembrance after you’re done.
These three ideas apply very well when you’re reading for a purpose as opposed to reading for enjoyment (Yes, people still do that). Reading simply for enjoyment can be valuable as well, because the classics and many solid novels of today deal with situations and issues and you can expand your horizons by reading great stories.
So what should you be thinking about as you get ready to read? Even when you’re reading fiction, you should be aware that you’re taking in information. Be active, recognize this, and read to gain knowledge. Why is this important? For one, that’s why the author wrote the book: to share his or her knowledge that they gained through experience or from other books. Another reason to gain knowledge is that our excellence glorifies our Creator. Refer to 2 Timothy 2:15:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
So if our goal is to gain knowledge from those who have the results we want, it logically follows that we must be controlling the books that we choose to read or highly trust those that recommend books to us. By integrating the knowledge you gain from a book into your life, you become more like the author. That is why it is an integral part of your mindset before reading to be actively controlling the selection of books that you’re choosing from.
So you’ve chosen a book, what’s next? Of course, grab a pen! *This does not apply to library books unless you use a notebook* Your activity while reading is to have fun studying the book. Yes, have fun studying the book! With your pen in hand, you are in control. You decide what you learn when you have the pen. Why is that? When you have a pen and use it in a book, the things that you underline, star, write a note in the margin on, or summarize stick with you. Here’s why it’s fun, You can argue with the author this way! You can figure out their thought process as they put the book together.
As a side note, you do not need to finish a book if you realize you don’t want that author’s thinking in your brain. I remember reading a novel when I was about 12, about halfway through I realized that I didn’t need to be reading that book, but I finished it anyway. That story is stuck in my brain forever now when I could have spent that time reading something wholesome. Life is too short to read junk.
Your remembrance of a book after finishing is directly related to activity while reading. If you take the time to write down an idea after each chapter, and when finished go back through and read your underlined sections and the main ideas of the book you will remember much better. If you have a collection of books, it is also very helpful to categorize books for future reference. A lesson you’ve learned from a book can be as comforting as a good friend and you don’t want to forget where you stashed your friends!
If you do one thing this new year, take the time to actively read. If you don’t learn from others, what you’re really doing is saying “I have arrived, I know all that I need.” Where to start? Remember, as you read a book you become more like what the author intends. Why not read a book from Someone who is perfect, actively read the Bible this new year and you’ll become more and more like what that Author intends you to be.
Part of this post was drawn from a video by a great author I respect, Chris Brady. Check his blog out at http://chrisbrady.typepad.com/
If you want some specifics on active reading, here’s a great one-page resource from Illinois Wesleyan University: http://www.iwu.edu/advising/students/reading_underlining.pdf
Follow me on Twitter! https://www.twitter.com/jondelange