Books have developed many great men and women in history.
Books have influenced our society through Presidents, activists, philosophers, novelists, entrepreneurs, writers, great thinkers, and leaders — men and women who have shaped history.
Books are where many of these great individuals in history received their real education. Books are where they found their most significant return on investment.
Warren Buffet — arguably the greatest investor of all-time — credits a book as the most significant investment in his life. A book he bought when he was 19 led to a career that has made him a billionaire — several times over.
Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill all credit their success to the books they consumed in their youth, which led them to become life long readers. Lincoln, who led the United States during the most tumultuous time in American history, said, “All I have learned, I learned from books.”
While you may never be able to find the same ROI, as Buffett did, I’m confident that if these strategies — if implemented — will lead to more success in your life.
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”
― James Baldwin
In my own life, I credit books as the most significant development in my life, much as Lincoln did. Books pushed, pulled, and challenged me to work on myself. From a 23 year broke, broken, and mindlessly drifting college drop out to a 37-year-old with a successful marriage, one beautiful child, excellent paying job, and aspirations and ambitions that I would’ve never imagined all those years ago.
Reading has also helped me develop:
- Winners mindset
- Better health
- More resilience
- Business acumen
- Interest in philosophy and marketing
- Leadership skills to guide my business and family
- A desire and purpose to become a writer.
To say reading has changed my life would be a gross understatement. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “I am a part of everything that I have read.”
Reading, when applied with these strategies, will improve your results and could even transform your life.
Read with Purpose
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”
— Joseph Addison
Anytime we decide to go on a diet or start a new workout regiment, there is a purpose behind this commitment. Why else would we choose to eliminate pizza and do more burpees? It’s certainly not convenient or comfortable.
So, you must read with a purpose if you are going to seek out results from your reading. A purpose towards your goals, strengthening where you struggle, and improving multiple aspects of your life.
I always ask myself the following questions before I start a book:
- What do I hope to learn from this book?
- What area of my life will this book help me grow?
- What area of my life will I be able to apply these lessons towards — immediately?
- What life goals will benefit from this book?
By asking these questions beforehand, you will be giving yourself a mission and purpose towards your reading.
Take Great Notes
“Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”
— Edmund Burke
I can go through my library and see which books I have either not read yet or read before I learned to take notes. In both instances, I haven’t truly read the book.
Write in the columns, highlight, fold pages, and use your book. Don’t borrow books or loan books out. These books are yours to digest, take notes, and use for your education. Books are an investment and a bet on yourself.
Keep a notebook with your notes. Refer back to them when you need to seek advice or guidance about a topic.
Look For The Lessons
“My alma mater was books, a good library…. I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.”
― Malcolm X
Books provide lessons within them, but we have to be on the lookout for them, not merely reading the pages in front of us. We can find lessons in courage, resilience, humility, and determination.
We can also find cautionary tales, in which ego, pride, or other individual failings teach us what not to do.
You see, a book is not just a bound set of pages to simply read through and move on to the next one. Within the pages of books, is revealed a better way to live our own lives. In characters, we see parts of ourselves, and we learn to improve, grow, and get better.
Socrates said it well, “Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.”
When we read, we are putting in the work and time to learn from others’ triumphs and mistakes — a far better way to learn valuable lessons in life, then through experience.
“If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads.”
― Francois Mauriac
In the past, I read books to add another title to the list of books I had completed. I realized there wasn’t any point in reading all these books if I didn’t learn, apply, and profoundly understand them.
If a book moves you or awakens something inside you, then reread it. Find every book on that subject, that author, and dive in headfirst. There is a reason these books feel like they are speaking to you, and you shouldn’t ignore it.
Trust me. You’ll know when you read it. About half-way through it, you’ll secretly be convinced that this book was written specifically for you. It will almost terrify you in a freaky way, but don’t let it. You just found a life-changing book, if you are willing to dive deeper.
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill changed my worldview and mindset.
- Compound Effect by Darren Hardy simplified daily wins and habits.
- The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday hit me powerfully and put me on a path to want to write.
- Shoe Dog by Phil Knight confirmed to me how important our soul is to what we pursue in life.
These books impacted me in a way that was life-changing, at least at that moment, which is all that matters. Like author Alain de Botton said, “Most of what makes a book ‘good’ is that we are reading it at the right moment for us.”
Your list of life-changing books will be different, and not every book moves you that way, but you only find out by reading and working to change your world.
- Read great books more than once?
- Read great writers’ work over and over?
- Read deeply into topics and subjects that you believe will benefit your life.
Read to Challenge Yourself
“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.”
— Benjamin Franklin
We live in a very polarizing political environment. We don’t even listen or hear the other side’s views. We ignore entirely, and we think that represents strength and conviction in our opinions.
If you are so confident in your convictions, read something from the other viewpoint — politics, strategy, philosophy, etc. Whatever you choose, look at the other side.
Too often in life, we live with a cognitive bias, which implies we already know the answers in life.
Isn’t this why we are reading? — to gain wisdom.
How can we accomplish this if we aren’t willing to challenge even the smallest beliefs we have?
Start small. Be willing to challenge long-held beliefs. You’ll be grateful afterward, no matter what. You’ll either confirm your current convictions or have real questions on why you have always believed these things. Either way, it’s growth.
Don’t let your beliefs, convictions, and intelligence become a victim of the current times. There is so much crap out there.
Gain some advice here from Albert Einstein:
“Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else.”
― Albert Einstein
Read to Level Up
“Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.”
― Napoleon Bonaparte
Abraham Lincoln leveled up from one log cabin to one of the greatest Presidents in American history. Elon Musk says books raised him.
Countless others throughout history used books to change the trajectory of their life, and the same opportunity exists for all of us.
As one of the greatest writers of all-time, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”
Use your reading to grow as a person in every way that you can.
Read to Develop
“Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.”
― John Locke
Develop a better understanding of a topic or field that you want to pursue. Use multiple books and opinions on a topic, to further develop your own theories and ideas within that field.
Don’t just take the wisdom from another author and hold it to the truth. Digest it, think it over, question angles of it, and then experiment with it.
Reading to develop will strengthen your understanding of these topics and give you advantages over your peers and colleagues. You didn’t just open up the book and read it. You digested the book in a way that helps you understand all the tiny pieces and intricacies.
- Take notes
- Think over what you are reading
- Challenge opinions within what you read
- Explore what you read
Read to Better Understand People
“We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel… is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.”
― Ursula K. LeGuin
Human behavior is truly quite complex. Understanding how people think, what motivates them, and how to work and live with different personalities will only benefit every aspect of your life. It will also give you an edge that most people are not willing to take the time to work on, which is quite frankly sad.
Read fiction, biographies, and great stories. These books provide great insight into people’s thoughts, actions, and what truly motivates them to act the way they do.
Understanding human behavior is vitally important to our development in life, our relationships, and career success. It’s how the leaders in us develop, and as Margaret Fuller said, “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”
Read to Apply
“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Without application, the other strategies won’t be beneficial to your success. For you to achieve success through reading, you must apply what you learn.
Don’t wait. Apply immediately.
Go back over your notes. Look for ways to apply the things that you’ve read and learned into your life. Not everything will work, but the good ones will, and just using those to enhance your life through the application will lead to growth — which will, in turn, lead to results.
Don’t skip out on this one.
Like many of these strategies, I must admit that I didn’t execute this one as I should’ve. Once you start applying the lessons you are learning, diving deeper into books and notes, and truly working on the things you learn — you’ll find success.
Your results will double and triple quickly. Your growth will become exponential.
Reading can spark results in our life, but we have to be willing to ignite that flame — and it comes through hard work and diving into great books that will move our minds in the direction of where the results we seek are.
Sure, the mere opening of a book and reading words won’t result in more money, better relationships, more career opportunities, and the success you seek. It’s going to take more work than just opening the book and reading.
If you are willing to apply these strategies to your reading, your ROI from your reading will grow exponentially.
- It’s worth it.
- It pays off.
- It will enhance your life, career, and relationships.
- People will see a difference in you.
- You’ll become stronger, more resilient, and wiser.
You’ll be a better leader — in your business, your family, and your community.