Global literacy rates are at an all time high, eclipsing 85%. However, for the first time in recent history, adult reading is less than half of the population – while we have increased our overall capacity to read, we make the conscious choice not to do so. Bibliophiles are less prevalent than social media personalities; you’re more likely to find someone who read the most popular tweets from the day than a book off of the New York Times best-seller list.
What does this mean for our organizations and teams? How are we sharing and cultivating knowledge amongst the short attention spans of our folks? How are we consuming information? Reading has to be a staple of our professional lives, whether its emails, briefings and memos at work or professional journals and books in our free time. Leading and mentoring in today’s digital environment can be a challenge, especially if we aren’t reading as part of our professional development. We undoubtedly know that there are many benefits to reading. Robust evidence suggests that reading improves intelligence and leads to both innovation and insight. Other studies have shown that reading makes us smarter via a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge. While we can’t control whether our followers are readers or not, we can control if WE are readers ourselves. We firmly believe that leaders are readers.
One of our most successful posts and activities in 2017 was our #ABookAMonth challenge. Our most read post on Facebook, viewed over 7k times and shared in the hundreds, was our initial post last January that announced the challenge. We will continue to push this challenge in 2018 with some new ideas while continuing some of our old ones. First, we will consolidate what books people post about to push out in our resurrected newsletter. Second, we will pass along reading lists that we find useful and helpful. Lastly, we will continue to encourage you to read whatever you want, share/post whatever you find interesting in the work, and reward the people who keep up with the #ABookAMonth challenge at the end of the year with gift cards, #MilitaryMentors clothing, and other items just like we did in 2017.
Just after learning how to speak we started to learn how to read and write. Reading is one of our most baseline, but ultimately critical, life skills. Keep honing your ability. For encouragement, here are a few great quotes about reading:
- “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin
- “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde
- “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King
- “A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” – William Styron
- “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry Truman
Now that those thoughts have you thinking, we want to help you with your reading this year. To reiterate our tips for picking up the habit and reading with us this year, consider the following:
- Set aside time to read. Instead of climbing in the bed and ending your night on Facebook, YouTube or Netflix, take 20-30 minutes to turn a few pages. Have a book handy to read everyday during your lunch break. Routinely reading at the same time daily builds the habit of a deliberate reader.
- Get a buddy or a group. If you can encourage someone to read with you, just like working out, you will be more committed to it. Encourage each other. Build a group or have a gathering to discuss what everyone’s reading.
- Read widely. Read what interests you, but you should also stretch your interests to jumpstart your literary appetite. Stave off your boredom by varying your reading regimen just like you would change up a physical workout.
- Check out some reading lists. Some of your favorite role models, leaders, mentors, heroes, etc. may have reading lists. Look it up or ask, as you may find your next great novel, historical reference or self-development guide.
- Change up your style. Maybe physical books bore you; try audio books while you commute or while you work out. Maybe you’ve tried the digital stuff and actually need an old school book; try to underline, highlight, and journal alongside your reading to make it more interactive. Maybe reading multiple books at the same time will make it more interesting. Find out what sparks your inner reader.
Read with us. Commit to a healthy habit that you learned to do as a child. Follow the hashtags #MilitaryMentors and #ABookAMonth on Facebook and LinkedIn to see what we’re posting about and what others are reading. Let’s share what we learn together over 2018 and keep the belief going that leaders are readers.