26 April 2016
It was the International Day of the Book over the weekend, coinciding with both the birth and death day of William Shakespeare.
For the past six years, in the UK, The Reading Agency has organised World Book Night on this day too, with thousands of people handing out their favourite books to other people in their communities.
I’ve always been an avid reader. I think that, whether you prefer to read fact or fiction, reading expands the mind, boosts creativity and keeps your brain active. I’ve often spoken about books that have inspired me and I’m always looking for further reading to help me look at the world and my business from a different perspective.
The American writer and critic Edmund Wilson is known for saying: “No two persons ever read the same book.” I think this applies to every piece of advice I’ve ever received. Not everyone is looking for answers to the same questions. But, like me, I’m sure everyone will have at one point experienced that so-called ‘light bulb’ moment when they read a paragraph or a chapter that provides them with exactly the knowledge or perspective they needed to make a business decision.
I believe that good leaders will never stop learning and developing. I want to learn all the time, so I read all the time.
If you follow my blog, you’ll have heard about a book called ‘Eat That Frog’ helping readers overcome procrastination, or ‘Built to Last’ and ‘Good to Great’ helping readers to create strong businesses and be great leaders. But take my advice: don’t just look for books with inspirational or quirky business titles, but give a good biography a chance too – particularly if it involves a key leader.
I’ve learnt very useful business lessons from the life stories and thoughts of the like of Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs and Alex Ferguson. I don’t think I would have got to where I am today without the wisdom of others to guide me.
However: I do think it’s important to recognise that not all leadership lessons can be learnt from a book. Sometimes, it makes more sense to have an actual face-to-face conversation with an expert or mentor in the industry you’re trying to gain an insight on.
And at other times, you have to think for yourself and learn from your own mistakes. Here, I could quote another American – former President Woodrow Wilson – who said “I would never read a book if it were possible for me to talk half an hour with the man who wrote it”.
For obvious reasons, this isn’t always possible. But reading a lot certainly can help you think and reflect, be inspired by others and become even more motivated to be successful.
It was the American entrepreneur Jim Rohn who first pointed out that the only books that won’t help you on your path to success are the ones you do not read. You really have nothing to lose!
What are your favourite business or inspirational books?