I am not sure where I first heard the phrase “readers are leaders” but it is something that has stuck with me throughout my entire life. I am now in my second year of retirement from teaching and coaching after 37 years of doing both. As I have thought about what to do in my retirement, one thing that keeps coming back into my mind is the need to read some great books. I have always believed that reading can help you become the best version of yourself for others. When you are busy with coaching and teaching, like I was for many years it is very hard to find the time or make the time to read. My goal is to slow down to read books that will allow me to continue to grow and make an impact in another way.
I started my quest for more knowledge by listening to podcasts by Chris Wirth of No Quit Living. His guests were successful people from all walks of life. I loved listening to all the great ideas his guest presented time and again. As I listen to No Quit Living, I notice many guests refer to their reading and how it is a priority in their lives. This inspired me to seek out books that lift me up more and do more with my life. Chris Wirth and a friend of mine Fred Quartlebaum (Assistant Basketball Coach at The University of Kansas), co-wrote a little book called: The Positivity Tribe. In the book they share many great ideas, but one that resonates with me is “We Rise by Lifting Others Up.” I loved the idea; what a great way to live life. I wondered what types of books Wirth and Quartlebum enjoyed reading, and found that Wirth reads books that had an impact on him personally and professionally. I decided to pick one from his list to read.
The book I chose was The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. Many of my coaching and teaching friends previously told me they enjoyed reading it. The lessons I learned and chose to apply are many. Pearls from the book include the phrases: we are all the drivers of our own bus; we attract what we think about; thoughts are magnetic, we have to fuel our ride in life with positive energy (to attract the same in return), and we get what we give to find what we look for.
Now when I begin to read any book I always take notes and write things down that really strike a chord with me, after I am done reading a book, I type up my notes so I can refer to them more easily. As I am writing this article I am referring to my book’s notes as well as to refresh my memory.
As I continue with my reading journey, I realize what I most enjoy is reading about what others have done that I would like to do. My next read was Chop Wood Carry Water by Josh Medcalf. Josh emphasized throughout his book that every inch matters. Every little thing we do matters. Everything you choose to read, listen to, or look at matters. He suggests it’s not difficult to read 10 pages of a great book each day or to take a twenty-minute walk to stay healthy. Medcalf shares an interesting story about a young person acquiring the necessary skills from a mentor. The mentor always teaches the young person through a series of steps how to acquire mastery of any skill. He makes the reader feel like they are coming along for the ride with him and they can do it themselves as well.
The next book I could not wait to dive into was Pound the Stone also by Josh Medcalf. I have heard over the years many coaches refer to this book as something they use with their teams. After reading it I can understand why. Everyone wants to be great until it’s time to do what greatness requires. I have heard Nick Saban, the Alabama football coach say the following many times: “Commit to the process of what you do rather than the outcome, it always happens 1% at a time, and successful people just keep swinging the hammer one more time -what matters most is that they keep on swinging.”
Lessons I have learned from Pound the Stone can be summed up in phrases like: “Work in the dark so you can shine the light, get comfortable being uncomfortable in order to grow, or most people take shortcuts instead of doing the work.” One of the main things I have taken from this book and used with myself and with others is to work in the dark so that you can shine in the light! You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable in order to grow. Most people just take shortcuts instead of doing the work. These epitaphs are lessons for people to become better versions of themselves.
The next step in my reading journey was The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn. This is a story about an ordinary postman who made a difference for everyone with whom he came in contact. Fred did this by doing more than what was necessary and exceeding daily expectations. Some of the lessons learned from the book for me were the following: Do good and you will feel good, the best never rest, treat customers and others as friends, make the most of each day, the impact you have on others is the reward , treat others as you would like to be treated, and fear nothing except to waste the moment. Fred was an ordinary person who treated people with dignity and kindness and that’s what set him apart from others.
Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill was my next read. Written in 1937, it is the 6th best selling book of all time and I have never heard of it. After reading it I began to realize why people enjoyed it so much. One of the many lessons that I learned from Napolean Hill was what he would do after he got done reading a book. Consider the source and then do it your way. Be a student and not a follower. Be eager to learn and ready to get more mental food whenever you can. Success always leaves clues!
The last book that I read was Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. The title doesn’t sound that interesting but the book is very informative. Lessons learned were: Don’t work for money make money work for you, buy assets and not liabilities, assets are things that put money in your pocket, liabilities are something that takes money out of your pocket, and rich people buy assets and not liabilities. The author suggested that people should take more time to learn than to earn. Know a little about a lot and surround yourself with people who know a lot. It was a simple message but it made a lot of sense to me and is something I have tried to apply since reading the book.
Reading has led me to some great information. My only regret is that I did not take the necessary time to read more until I retired. Remember “Leaders are Readers” and hopefully this will give you some new information to start you along your journey.