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Leaders are Readers

Recently, I was riding in a car with some friends and family and someone asked a question that no one knew the answer to. Faster than the time it will take you to finish reading this paragraph, one of the passengers quickly responded, “I found it. The answer is…” They used their smartphone and Googled it to search for the answer. It occurred to me that it wasn’t that long ago answering the question would have required getting back home, going to the library, researching it for hours and then following up once the answer was found.

The speed at which we have access to information is mind-bending. The acquisition of knowledge, which is the new global power, is a life-long experience. Not long ago, school largely taught all you needed to know to get a good job and career. As access to knowledge has expanded exponentially, this is no longer true. One of the most powerful and efficient ways to expand your knowledge is by reading.

Leaders are Readers!

Every thirty seconds, yet another innovation is made. Your formal education has a very short shelf-life. Life-long learning, once a luxury for the few, has become vital to continued success. In a world of email, texts, voicemail, sound bites, and concise reports, business plans and meeting briefs; the individuals who can articulate their goals, substantiate their claims and support their visions, will own the future. In the 21st Century, literacy will be the major difference between the haves and have-nots.

If this is true, then why do fewer than 10 percent of the public buy and read nonfiction books? One reason is that many would rather get home than get ahead. They just get by or are pulled along by someone else. They take no responsibility for their own success. And many seem to believe that information found in books, computer programs and training sessions has no value in the real world. How delusional!

Here are the facts regarding reading statistics:

  • 32 million U.S. adults are illiterate

  • 19% of high school graduates can’t read

  • Over 70% of inmates in the United States can’t read above a fourth grade level

  • 3 out of 4 public assistance recipients perform in the lowest two literacy levels

  • Only 31% of college graduates have high level literacy skills

  • Kids don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop-out

  • 43% of adults in the lowest level of literacy proficiency live in poverty, only 4% of adults with strong literacy skills live in poverty

Choose to be extraordinary and lead by example. Increase your reading, writing and vocabulary proficiency. One of the most important qualities of successful leaders is an ability to express thoughts and knowledge. Research by management and human resource experts confirms that no matter what the field of employment, people with large vocabularies (those who read—a lot), those who speak clearly and concisely, individuals who use simple as well as descriptive words are best at accomplishing their goals. Read, lead and change the world.


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