Many of you may recognize the title of this article as the slogan from the program sponsored by Six Flags to encourage children to read. According to the rules of the program, children who read for six hours could earn a free ticket to Six Flags. My kids loved this program, and I’m sure many of yours did as well. I’m sure the children who earned their free ticket thought that was the success. However, as grand as a free ticket to Six Flags may seem, it pales in comparison to the success that awaits those who cultivate a love for reading and continue to pursue knowledge throughout their lifetime.
It’s a well-known fact that one thing successful people have in common is that they are voracious readers. The richest man in the world, Bill Gates, reads about 50 books a year. He reviews them on his blog gatesnotes.com. I’m sure the business that has made him the richest man in the world keeps him very busy, yet he still finds the time to read – A LOT. Many others who are on the Forbes list of richest people also make reading a priority.
Warren Buffet spends 80% of his day reading. He says, “Read 500 pages….every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” Mr. Buffet is right. Though many of us have the ability to read something worthwhile every day, most of us don’t. We’d rather spend our time binge watching Netflix. We let our dreams die while we watch others live theirs.
Mark Twain said, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.” Notice he said good books. Many of us are reading the latest gossip mag or popular fiction series, but how many of us are reading things that truly matter? How many of us are reading things that will make us a better person, better at what we do, and more capable to render service to others, be it personal or professional? The reason I ask is because I believe the more we improve ourselves, the more value we add to the world, and reading is a surefire way to self- improvement and success.
Warren Buffet’s partner, Charlie Munger, told a crowd of aspiring law students, “I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.”
How many nights this week did you go to bed a little wiser than when you woke up that day? Let’s commit today to becoming learning machines! We can all become a little smarter every day. To do this, we must make better choices about how we use our time. We can use it, or we can invest it.
We can choose to invest our time and be educated rather than be entertained. The most successful people choose reading material that is going to push them ever more towards their goals and dreams. They are especially drawn to biographies and autobiographies of other successful people.
When my children were younger, I would always steer them towards the biography section in the library. I told them if someone has had a book written about their life, chances are they’ve done something important, and perhaps there’s something we can learn from them. Success leaves clues, so if you want to be successful, a good place to start is studying successful people.
When we see all the things successful people have accomplished, it may be tempting to say, “I could never do something like that. Those people have something I don’t have.” The truth is they don’t. We all have greatness within us. Abraham Lincoln said, “That some achieve great success is proof others can achieve it as well.” The most important thing successful people do that contributes to their success is they never stop learning, and neither should we. There is no limit to what any of us can achieve when we commit to consistent and never-ending self-improvement.
I hope I’ve succeeded in my attempt to encourage you to read more books, especially books that will educate rather than just entertain. I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes from our beloved former President Abraham Lincoln, “The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.” I agree with President Lincoln, except you don’t have to give me a book to be my best friend. Just recommend a good book to me. I’d love to hear what books are your favorites and why. Let’s read to succeed together. Just in case you’re wondering, here’s a link (Click HERE) to a list of some of my favorite books. You’ll see it’s a mixture of classic literature along with books about my passions – health, fitness, and personal growth.