When I was 5, I couldn’t wait to read. I had a curious soul in me and wanted to learn as much as I could – as quickly as I could. By the time I was 12, I had read every single book in the house cover to cover at least once or twice.
Mind you we didn’t have a whole lot of books on the farm where I grew up, but my point is the same: I was hungry for knowledge and any opportunity to consume more of it – I would take it.
When I was 14, my family and I moved to Canada and I was forced to learn English. Needless to say, I did not read many books in my first few years of learning the language as I simply could not grasp yet a lot of the stuff I was reading.
One book I do remember reading though on my summer break before entering my last year of high school. It was the classic “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.
What was interesting is that although I did not understand a lot of what I was reading at that time due to not being fluent in the English language yet, it had a MAJOR impact on my life.
How to Win Friends & Influence People
Some of the stuff in the book I had never heard of before. I all of a sudden realized just how much negativity I had in my life – most of it coming from my close circles of influence. I remember struggling for months to not have negative chit-chatter with my friends and instead have meaningful, positive and uplifting conversations. It was HARD!
I remember rereading parts of the book on my way home from school (on the bus) and some of my friends would laugh at me – basically mocking me for reading a self-help book. In my mind, reading a self-help book was no different to the mind than working out at the gym was to the body.
So I started countering the mockery by telling them just how much of an impact this book was having on my life – at which point they started to get interested themselves. I always ended up giving my book to them and they would promise to read it.
This happened so often that I started buying those books in bulk (a dozen at a time) and give them away to colleagues after convincing them it would change their life for the better.
Whether they read it or not, I don’t know. What I do know though, is this: It re-awoke a certain “hunger” for knowledge within me again. I didn’t really tend to this hunger though for at least another 10 years. I claimed I simply did not have time to read and also excused myself by saying “I read enough information online”.
Which was true, but both were lame excuses that held me back from growing as a person.
Getting back into reading again…
In 2011 I decided I needed to pick up reading again. In fact, there was another classic book I had been wanting to read for ages – Robinson Crusoe – but simply never took the time to start.
When I finally got it and started reading it, it took me a good 2 years to finish.
It wasn’t a self help book by any means, but what it did was: It gave me back a passion for reading. I didn’t care how long it took me, the sheer satisfaction of having read it from beginning to end made me want to do it over and over again. It was a terrific feeling!
I would equate the feeling to running a full marathon. It didn’t matter how long it took. What mattered was finishing. The pure satisfaction of having done it. Something to be proud of!
Since then I have stepped up my game and started reading books in areas of interest to me – mainly self-help and how-to type books (you’ll find some of my favorites listed here). I am still not going at the pace I want to but I finish – on average – one book every two months.
I am not saying this to brag. In fact, there is nothing to brag about – but what I will say is: The more I discover what AWESOME stuff I didn’t know already, the more I want to know. In other words, I will be a student for life. I have a lot to learn and discover still.
As the saying goes “Learning is the one thing I will never finish!”
Reading Changed My Life!
Over the last few months I’ve been thinking of just how much “active reading” has impacted my life, and I’ve started to ask people randomly if they read – and if so – what they read. The thing that blows me away is I can almost always predict who reads a lot and who doesn’t.
Example: I’ve been talking to a few dozen employees of various companies who work entry to middle management type jobs. The majority of them look at me funny when I ask them if they read “books”. It’s almost always a big no or they read a fictional novel every so often (if anything).
Then I make it a point to ask the same question to individuals who I know run multi-million dollar companies. Want to know what I find? The more personal development type books they read, the more millions their companies are generally worth. I always smile and say “isn’t thaaaat interesting”.
Want to know the real kicker though? The guys/girls running the big companies are generally less formally educated than the ones working entry level to middle management jobs.
Not saying this to mock formal education – it certainly has its place – but am simply noticing how ongoing self education very quickly outperforms traditional education by leaps and bounds.
It’s similar to simple-interest versus compound-interest. One may win in the short run, but the other almost always wins in the long run. You simply cannot compete with continues self education, be it in the form of listening to audio books, podcasts, watching documentaries that challenge your thinking/opinions, or reading and re-reading books!
My personal library – although small at this point – is always growing. If you are interested in seeing what I have read or am currently reading, be sure to check out the “Books I’ve Read” section of this blog.
Are you currently reading non-fiction type books? If so, what good books have you read so far that you’d recommend I check out?