Strategically Expanding Your Mind

November 9, 2015

In the film The Book Thief a young girl named Liesel finds solace through literature amidst the horrors of World War II Nazi Germany. One powerful scene depicts Nazi soldiers destroying books in a giant bonfire. They want to get rid of the words and ideas that books contain. Liesel finds the smouldering remains of three books and carries them home, hidden under her dress, almost burning herself.

To me this was a poignant demonstration of how ideas and words can never truly die. Through books, we feed our souls and forever change ourselves as humans. That’s why I believe the single most powerful thing we can do for our personal and professional growth is to read.

Many business professionals struggle with reading. We never have enough time, we feel overwhelmed by choice, and we worry about staying current in our field. Research suggests most people don’t make it past page 40 of the average business book.

Today we are drowning in content and books. There has never been a time when reading has been easier. The question is: how do we pick what to read, and how can we read faster and smarter? While you can and should subscribe to blogs (especially mine, and thank you!), I am going to focus on books here because they tend to present more complex ideas in greater depth.

My mentor Matt Church recommends figuring out the classic book for your field, the bestseller, and the current blockbuster. This is a must-do, non-negotiable strategy for your field of expertise – as well as a great way to gain knowledge in any new field you need to be across quickly.

Browse bestseller lists like those in The New York Times and Forbes. Keep an eye on editors’ picks at Amazon. A Google search of ‘must-read business books’ will leave you spoilt for choice.

Also find out what other people are reading. Ask friends and family. See what forward thinkers such as Seth Godin and business leaders like Bill Gates recommend.

In next week’s blog, we’ll address the challenge of reading both fast and smart.

What are you reading, and what are your tips on what to read?

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