Each month as part of our Intentional Growth Club, we read a book and hold a discussion night to talk about our takeaways from the book.
This month, we read Read to Lead by Jeff Brown and Jesse Wisnewski. The book is about how reading can help you get ahead in your career and provides many tips for forming a reading habit and getting the most out of the books you read.
It also offers suggestions for choosing the books that will be most beneficial to you and how to read them quickly (while still retaining the information). Reading is a skill and a habit that can be gained by anyone, even if you struggled with it in school. Your past experiences with reading don't have to hold you back from becoming a reader now.
Without further ado, let's get into our key takeaways from Read to Lead.
1) Read or Get Left Behind
The first section of the book makes clear why it’s important to cultivate a habit of reading if you want to have a successful career. Having the right degree or certification no longer means you are guaranteed to get a good job. It takes more than that. And reading can help you gain the edge you need, especially as the number of people who read decreases.
Reading can help you learn new skills quickly and for a much cheaper price than taking a class. Studies cited in the book also describe how reading helps improve “soft” skills like decision-making, leadership, empathy, and creativity. Again, in a situation where everyone has the same technical skills, you can stand out with your emotional intelligence gained from reading.
Many of the greatest leaders and business owners have been avid readers - from Bill Gates to Abraham Lincoln. If you study the habits of successful people, you’ll find that reading is a key habit they credit with helping them succeed.
2) Anyone Can Become a Reader
For a variety of reasons, you may choose not to read or feel you simply can’t be a “reader.” But the truth is, anyone can become a reader. In fact, the book dedicates an entire chapter to overcoming the top excuses people have for not reading. Reading is a skill that can be learned and improved just like any other skill.
One of the biggest excuses for not reading is a lack of time. However, it’s really more about not making reading a priority. There are hundreds of things competing for our attention throughout the day, so it can be hard to set aside time for reading. If you want to make reading a priority, take time away from other activities like watching TV or scrolling social media, and schedule time in your calendar specifically for reading.
If you struggle to make time for reading, work on making it a habit. Carry a book with you everywhere so you can read when you have a few minutes of down time. Keep a book on your bedside table so you remember to read before you go to sleep. You don’t have to read for hours at a time or get through a new book every week in order to benefit from reading.
Reading can be difficult for some people due to learning disabilities like dyslexia or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). These difficulties don’t mean you can’t learn from reading books, it just may take some extra time and effort. There’s no shame in seeking help, so I strongly encourage you to get help and/or training if you need it.
Maybe you are simply a slow reader or don’t find it enjoyable. If that’s what’s holding you back, there are plenty of tips in the book to help increase your reading speed. One of the best things you can do is push through and keep reading - practice is the best way to get faster. The book also discusses how to choose books to meet your needs and keep your interest in Chapter 5.
Check out the resources on the book's website for more tips, useful apps, a reading plan template, and even book recommendations: https://readtoleadbook.com/resources
3) Take Notes
Reading the books is one thing, but retaining and putting the information you learn to use is another. If you read a book, but don’t put the ideas into action, you’re really missing out on the benefits. For example, consider this statistic from the book - “According to research, summarizing a book will help you to retain 50 percent more of what you read compared to those who don’t do it.”
There are several ideas discussed in the book to help you retain the information you read, but one of the most important is to take notes while you read. Not only does it help your brain really absorb the key details, but it will also help you easily look back over your thoughts and ideas at a later time.
If you prefer a physical book, write notes in the margins, highlight, underline, use sticky notes or whatever helps you organize the information in your mind. You can even add extra notes or thoughts in the blank spaces at the beginning and end of the book, or at the beginning and end of chapters.
While physically writing down your notes has benefits, some people prefer e-books or audiobooks (or maybe it’s a library book you can’t write in!) Whatever e-book reader you choose should have the option to highlight and make notes, just like a physical book. For audiobooks, it’s a little more difficult, but you can pause at key points and mark the time to make notes later. Some audiobook platforms have the option to clip or bookmark a passage.
You may also want to keep your notes somewhere separate from the book itself. You could keep a notebook full of your thoughts and sort them by different topics. You can also create a digital system of notes to help keep more organized and reduce clutter. The method of note-taking and organizing is a personal preference, as long as you are keeping notes in some way.
*Bonus Takeaway* - Join or Start a Book Club
The final chapter of the book is dedicated to the benefits of being part of a book club. It's a great way to help keep yourself accountable for your reading. Plus, you get the opportunity to share your thoughts with others and learn from them to improve your comprehension of the book.
If you're interested in leadership, emotional intelligence, and personal growth, I highly encourage you to join our monthly book club! We meet (virtually) on the last Tuesday of every month at 6:30 PM CST. Register here: https://bit.ly/IGCBookClub
Reading is one of the best ways you can learn and get ahead in life. Setting up a plan, knowing what to read, and how to get the most out of the books you read will fuel your personal growth to new heights. So grab a book and get reading!
Join us on September 27th at 6:30 PM CST for our book club discussion on Read to Lead. You can register here: https://bit.ly/IGCBookClub
If you can't make it, let us know what you thought about the book in the comments!
Our book for October will be Emotional Agility by Susan David.