From the time when I was 2 all the way till I was 22 I probably only read 2 books.
Yes that means I only read the cliff notes in high school and college. Yes that means I have not read the great books like Lord of Flies, Alice and Wonderland or the Great Gatsby. Yes I know it is hard to believe but it is true (you can ask my wife).
I was one of those annoying kids who didn’t have to study and still passed with an above B- average. I used to think this was to my advantage. I bragged about not being a reader and still being an achiever.
I laughed at people who spent days reading and flipped through more than 200 pages of a book when we all new the two hour movie was just about to be released.
Why would people waste their time reading?
At the age of 25 I finally realize the power of pages; the beauty of books. I am sorry it took me this long to discover it but I am thankful I am smart enough now to realize there is nothing stupid about reading. In fact you are irresponsible if you don’t read.
We live in a digital age where books can be downloaded for $0.99 and the messages your new mentors can give you will fuel your mind with more important things than a reality TV show or a re-run of How I Met Your Mother.
40% of the American population never reads another a book after they graduate! I refuse to fit in that category. I might not have read in school but now it is time to play catch up.
If I want to be a better speaker. It is time to be a reader.
How do you start being a reader?
First, find a genre you are interested in. I started with autobiographies. I can’t keep engaged with action packed fiction but I like authentic autobiographies because they constantly remind me “hey, if they can do it, I can do it.” Then I started with self-help books I am passionate about like speaking, communication and living your fullest life. Find what interests you.
Secondly, if you can’t get through the first 20 pages of a book, you should pick up another book. Don’t waste your time. Keep trying a different genre or book till you find one that grabs your attention and that you like.
Lastly, ask for other people’s advice on what to read. Most likely you are around like-minded people and already share common interests with them. I did this and it lead to my favorite books.
Heck there are more than 300,000 books published in the United States each year and there is a 100% chance at least one of those books you will enjoy.
I am currently reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
This is a must read for every speaker (a must read for everyone in fact) but you must do more than read the book.
You must follow along with the exercises in the book. Do you need a change in your life? Do you want to know how to make a difference? Do you want to add value to the people you serve and those you love?
Read this book. No… do the exercises in this book.
To keep myself accountable and so that I am practicing what I preach (as Ben Franklin said, “Well done is better than well said.”) and for those of you who are interested, here is my personal constitution and my obituary.
How to Be a Speaker: If you want to be a better speaker be a better reader. Read and read often. Pick up a book today and don’t be like me when I was 22, read at least one book from start to finish in the next 30 days. Commit to reading more… starting today.
Question: What has been your favorite book to read and why?