Today a reader, tomorrow a leader By Harvey Mackay

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Years ago I was on a flight from Minneapolis to New York when a business man sitting next to me reached in his briefcase and pulled out my first book, “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.”
I was going crazy inside and blurted out, “How do you like that book?”
“Well,” he said, “My boss gave me a choice of three business books to read. I picked this one because it was the shortest.”
Talk about a letdown, but at least he was reading. And I sincerely hope that the short chapters and many business lessons gave him plenty of take-home value.
In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, March is designated as National Reading Month – a month to motivate Americans of all ages to read every day. Reading is fun and has many benefits, regardless of your age. It’s a key component of education and professional development. Books illuminate your imagination, enhance your vocabulary, build confidence, and improve memory, writing and communication skills. Reading also has immediate and long-lasting health benefits such as increased cognitive function, empathy decreased and levels of stress.
I love this quote from famed speaker Charlie “Tremendous” Jones: “Don’t read to be big, read to be down to earth. Don’t read to be smart, read to be wise. Don’t read to memorize, read to realize. Don’t read to just learn, read to sometimes unlearn. Don’t read just enough to keep yourself curious and hungry, to learn more, to keep getting younger as you grow older.”
People’s lives change in two ways – the people they meet and the books they read.
Charlie Jones first uttered something similar to this, and I have repeated this point every speech I’ve given to corporate audiences. I believe it’s that important. You cannot open a book without learning something.
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island,” said Walt Disney. “And best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.”
Whenever I read a book, I want to get at least one idea from it that I can use the rest of my life. The same with listening to speakers. If we can do this, there’s no way we can’t all become more successful.
Books are easier to access now than ever before. I keep several downloaded on my phone and iPad when I’m traveling – much easier than when my briefcase was bulging with reading material in the “old days.” Audiobooks have long been one of my go-to pastimes.
Bestselling author Og Mandino said: “Many years ago, when I was just about as complete a failure as one can become, I began to spend a good deal of time in libraries, looking for some answers. I found all the answers I needed in that golden vein of ore that every library has.”
Interesting that April is National Library Month.
Radio, television, computers and the Internet were proclaimed to be the final replacement for conventional books when each first became popular. But more books than ever are being published and more copies are being sold. Here’s my prediction: traditional paper pages will not become extinct anytime soon. There’s just something about turning the pages that keeps you engaged.
Books are a great source to learn from top mentors in all subjects even when you can’t meet with them personally. They write books to help people. Reading about experiences is almost the same as living it.
World renowned entrepreneur and author Jim Rohn said, “Everything you need for your better future and success has already been written. And guess what? It’s all available.”
I mostly agree with Jim – with one deviation. There are so many excellent books written every year, and if the information in one doesn’t grab your attention, you can try another author’s approach.
Inscribed on the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress are the first eight words of this quotation by philosopher and writer Henry David Thoreau that reads: “Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. Their authors are a natural and irresistible aristocracy in every society, and more than kings or emperors exert an influence on mankind.”
Do you realize that just 200 years ago, only about 12 percent of the world’s population could read and write? Today that number is between 85-90 percent. Just imagine the progress made as the world becomes more literate. The possibilities are limitless.
Mackay’s Moral: Reading helps install new software in brains.
Reprinted with permission from nationally syndicated columnist Harvey Mackay, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller “Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive,” and the new book “We Got Fired!…And It’s the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Us .”

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