The Benefits of Reading

Written by Jason Haines

“A man only learns by two things; one reading and the other is association with smarter people.”
-Will Rogers

I have challenged myself to read about different subjects over the years, not as much as I’d like the past four years, but to this day, I continue to push myself to read books for self-development. There are many unique and insightful books out there and it seems that the deeper you go into the rabbit hole the more you want to keep reading and discovering more. Another thing that happens once you start reading you will realize there are a lot of things you don’t know, don’t understand, and that some people you respect have a different view on things than yourself.

Now I am not going to write a paper that tells you the top books to read in a subject because we all have different interests and wants. I will say I recommend reading at least one or two books a year on the subject matter of your profession so you can stay up to date on the topics you need to know about within your field. With that being said, I am a strong believe that reading teaches us things that we need and want to know in our life while providing a way to relax while doing so. Many of us, myself included, need to put down our phones and social media and pick up a good book and learn from others.

I made it a goal of mine a few years back to read a book a month. I had heard advice from Jim Rohn when he said to, “work harder on yourself than on your job.” At first, I didn’t understand what he was saying, but the the more I read and gained knowledge, the more I came to realize exactly what he meant. When we start to learn things profession, knowledge begins to grow, and our influence grows with that knowledge. When we grow our influence on things, we can also open our mind to other ideas from other people.

See where I come from, and it may not just be where I come from, people always thought that reading was pointless and time consuming. There were more important things to focus on, and in the scheme of things these were important but not as important as self-development. People thought they were too smart to read anything past what was read in school; however, the reality is that a people shouldn’t stop their education after graduation.  So why should we make it a point to read and self-educate when we graduate?

 It is said that people who self-educate and read more have better careers and advance higher in their livelihoods than those who do not. This doesn’t mean go out and read only for pleasure. Yes, an occasional fiction book added into your repertoire gives you the ability to grow your imagination, but don’t always read these as they are just that fiction which almost always never imitates life. But the most important books to read are those that will teach you the most. Books from great leaders, self-help gurus, books within your field, and any one you may think may be a good mentor or have great advice for you to learn from. I read books from past and present athletes, coaches, business leaders, religious leaders (Jesus and the Bible), and self-help gurus that usually either succeeded in the past or are teaching us from their failures.

Reading has many benefits that help a person’s cognitive functions and memory. It helps people grow and gives more leadership influence on others that we want to bring along with us. I started reading extensively four years ago because I had a major curiosity about Lean management and how to implement it into any business. As I started reading these books, I found other types of books that were very intriguing, and my knowledge grew from there as I started to read about different leaders and people who had knowledge of leadership. So why did I start to read more about leadership?

Often you hear people talking about Lean isn’t only about the tools it is something more and many of these people are correct. Lean is more than the tools; the tools are just there to help us with our leadership, just like a hammer is for a carpenter 5S and VSM are to a Lean leader and practitioner. These tools help the leaders of any Lean movement because it standardizes the work that they do and gives their people something to follow. When people have something to follow, or leaders for that matter, it eliminates chaos and provides people more chances to make changes and improvements to all processes. This is the exact reason I started reading, so I had tools to help guide people and learn things that I could have in my toolkit to provide others with knowledge and a better understanding of things.

When in leadership you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but you need to have a general knowledge in many areas. Reading helps everyone gain this general knowledge that is helpful in the long term. Many of the things that reading helps with is empathy, extended vocabulary, creativity, less stress, perseverance, and intelligence. All these things help give a leader a better understanding of how people think and feel and what to do in all situations. When reading as a Lean practitioner it helps to understand when to teach, mentor, coach, and step back and let others lead us. It gives us an understanding of how to support others and communicate with them much better.

Communication with others is important to have as a leader. Books can help us with this communication because they give us more knowledge and a better point of view on many things throughout life. This helps leaders connect to their people much easier. When we get out amongst the people and start to communicate with them, we learn what makes people tick and what they really want. When leaders ramrod their ideas down people’s throats that the people really don’t want then that is when pushback happens. So, leaders must learn how to help not only themselves but also the people in their stead. Reading can help with this by helping grow knowledge in unfamiliar areas, growing vocabulary, changing thought process, and showing how others communicate with people in different situations.

One must take up reading if they are looking to expand their horizons and advance their careers. Those that know how to read but refuse to read are going to the same place that those who do not know how to read at all. In the end, reading helps us all. I want to leave today with one last quote from Jim Rohn, “reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” Please go out and grab a good book and expand your horizons.

Helping grow your business through process improvement!!