Leaders are Readers

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

– Harry S. Truman

Information flow in the 21st century is fast paced and image driven.  Not entirely a bad thing, except many are forgetting the standards of literacy that brought about the growth in information technology to get humanity to this point in history.

I’ll have to admit, being a little old school, I prefer to read up on a new subject or topic to learn.  Younger generations are increasingly going to YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest to get tutorials or learn new information.  It’s easily accessible and concise.   But is it the best?

While I am loving the fact that communication is being refined to be more clear and direct in many ways, this could also lead to some problems.  For example, with news on political issues, a 30 second campaign ad can ‘expose’ an issue to the public, but there is often very little fact checking or credibility to many accusations or stories.  Coupled with the rapidly changing news cycle, bad or untrue stories can be cycled on television or the internet leaving an imprint on people’s minds with very little time spent critiquing credibility or facts.

More and more sources for information online choose content that breeds misinformation.  When traffic is driving ad dollars the incentive is to sensationalize or distort the facts.  Simple stories can turn into propaganda inciting resentment and misinformation. All of it based on a lie.

If society and the media continues this trend the results will be frightening.

Often, it takes more work to engage with new media and double check on their accuracy than to simply read the research in the first place.  Reading gives more power to the individual to process information logically and honestly.

Reading teaches us to think in a logically connected way.  It cultivates a sustained attention span.  Readers learn to think in abstract ideas, objective truth, and sustained reflection.

– Neil Postman

People should supplement their knowledge by reading different viewpoints.  Being surrounded by like minded people all the time can hinder growth.  True creativity after all is no more than the synergy of two things that have never been put together the same way before.

Challenge yourself today to read something new.  Read different genres.  Read literature from different cultures.  Read to learn.  Read to relax.  Read to be a better, more informed person.

If you’re looking for something new to read check out the Read to Lead Podcast by Jeff Brown.  Aside from having incredible authors on the show, they often discuss influential books they have come across.  Needless to say my Amazon wishlist is quite full and yours can be just as full with a little exploration.

Make a commitment and set an achievable habit for yourself to read just a little more.  Maybe it helps to have a schedule.  Set aside 20 minutes during your day for reading. Most people can spare a 20 minute portion of the day.

If you still think it could be a struggle, find a friend with similar interests and read the same book at the same time.  Use the book as points of discussion in your conversation (note: you should pick someone you enjoy spending time and holding a conversation with).  Or if you’re keen on bigger group activities, join a book club.

Whatever you choose, start today.  Your options are almost limitless so go for it!  You never know how reading something could change your life.



photo © Masson / DollarPhotoClub