Have you picked up a good book lately?
We’ve been taught for as long as we could remember that reading has a lot of benefits. It widens the vocabulary, it improves writing skills, and it sharpens the memory. But there’s more to reading than these; reading can actually equip us with life skills critical to achieving success and personal fulfillment. It’s no surprise then that CEOs, scientists, creative innovators, world leaders, social revolutionaries, and top people in every industry are likely to be avid readers. Reading has helped shape how they think and see the world at large.
Here are some of the characteristics that readers and successful people have in common:
- They keep their eyes on the prize
Anyone who has read Tolstoy’s War and Peace know that reading takes time and requires patience, perseverance, and focus. Reading trains us to concentrate on a specific task for long stretches of time. Readers do take breaks, but will not stop until they’ve reached the last page, no matter how long it takes. Successful people have the same attitude when it comes to their goals and projects they have set out to achieve.
- They are goal-driven
Whether it’s to read one chapter a day, to finish one book a week, or to complete a particular author’s body of work, readers set goals for themselves, which they aim to accomplish before moving on to the next task. Readers actively try to accomplish something whenever they read. Just like readers, successful people set goals throughout their lives and will work towards achieving – if not surpassing – them. In addition to this, readers and successful people know how to prioritise their goals. Just as readers have to decide which material should be read first, successful people know how to rank goals according to their importance.
- They know that time is a precious resource
Readers know how to make the most of their time. They’re aware that 5 minutes wasted everyday over the course of a year amounts to more than 24 hours that could have been spent reading. Waiting for a flight at the airport, lining up at the checkout counter, or sitting at the doctor’s office are seen as opportunities to go through a couple of pages more. Successful people also see time as something too valuable to waste, and they always look for opportunities to learn something new, tick off a task from their to-do list, or set a new challenge to conquer.
- They see things from different perspectives
Reading puts us in another character’s shoes, whether they’re real or fictional. Readers travel to different worlds and discover new experiences they’d never have known if they did not read. The insights they’ve gained will undoubtedly shape their opinions about issues. We know of lawyers who were inspired to take up their profession by Atticus Finch, one of the main characters in To Kill a Mockingbird, and abide by his sense of justice. Successful people are analytical, know how to empathize with others, and see the bigger picture.
- They take the time to reflect
Gaining a fresh perspective allows readers to see matters from a different point of view. Being reflective, on the other hand, helps them understand how they can make the most out of this new perspective. They pause and think before they act. Successful people act similarly; they know that each decision they make can have a huge impact on a community or a person’s life, and take stock of all their options carefully before proceeding.
- They have excellent communication skills
It’s to be expected that the most inspiring and memorable speeches in the world’s history have been written or delivered by enthusiastic readers. They’ve definitely taken inspiration from characters and situations they’ve encountered through reading. Combined with a rich vocabulary and exceptional writing skills, they were able to craft statements that have captivated audiences for centuries. Successful people passionately study great minds that have preceded them and use what they’ve learned to champion a cause and inspire others to take action.
- They retain information for future use
The mind is a powerful organ. Readers know that the more they read and understand, the easier it is to commit information to memory. Successful people archive a lot of knowledge, sometimes without realising it. And no information is considered trivial or useless. Situations may arise where such knowledge may prove to be useful or even life-changing, so they absorb everything like a sponge.
- They like to stay sharp
Just as going to the gym keeps muscles in shape, readers give their brain a good workout by voraciously consuming books and other content. This keeps their minds fresh and full of new ideas. Successful people do the same. They exercise their minds by brainstorming for innovative solutions to society’s ills or by habitually creating challenges to overcome, which in turn enhances their ability to face and solve bigger problems in the future.
- They believe that learning is an ongoing process
So many books, so little time. Readers are constantly on the lookout for new books to discover; their to-read lists just keep on getting longer. Successful people excel and have stood out from the rest because their quest for learning and self-improvement never stops. And when they venture out to do a task, they don’t do it just for the sake of completing it; there has to be a key takeaway, a lesson learned. Reading books for their coursework was never just an assignment; it was an opportunity to further their knowledge.
- They know how to have fun!
Readers take time off from reading serious, thought-provoking literature and indulge in what is considered as lighter fare such as chick-lit, love stories, graphic novels, comic books, magazines, and a lot more. Successful people know that having downtime is just as important as working hard; this keeps them from feeling stressed and burned out, which could affect their decisions in the future. And there’s no better way to relax than by losing track of time, engrossed in a book that’s hard to put down.