No leader in history ever became one simply because he was a born leader. Leadership is not a talent, but a discipline that is forged through years of consistent work on weaknesses and development of strengths. Leadership is influence and you cannot learn to lead anyone until you learn to lead yourself. So, the challenge here is simple: how to learn to lead you.
One of the best ways to do this is by reading. Throughout the rest of this article, we will point out some of the most important things you may not know about reading and what it can do for you in your business and personal life.
For starters, we are not just talking about reading any books, but, rather, we are specifically discussing books on personal growth and development.
Most people stay away from self-help books because it makes them feel inadequate and no one wants to feel like they are not perfect yet. Here's a news flash: you will never be perfect. But reading books will help you to self-evaluate, self-motivate and self-critique yourself better than any other external party can.
Here are some of the important reasons why reading is a necessity to develop leadership.
Reading builds your self-image
Your self-image refers to not how you feel about yourself but really how you feel other people feel about you. It predetermines a lot of your confidence in different aspects of your life in including your business. Everything you have accomplished in life thus far can be directly correlated with your self-image.
It is the most important thing you must continue to protect and continue to work on developing. You must continually evaluate your self-image for this important reason: you will never outgrow your self-image. A person with a strong self-image will have high expectations for himself and his future but someone with a low self-image will not expect much good to happen to him and will subconsciously sabotage anything good that may happen.
The scariest part about not having a healthy self-image is that most people who don't have a good self-image have no idea they don't. So make sure you're reading books that build you up and remind that you can do anything if you work hard enough and consistently enough for it. Remember no one was born with success written on their forehead. On the contrary we were all born with two things in common: we were ugly and were crying.
Reading maintains your attitude
Your attitude is probably the second most important thing you must check, correct and monitor on a daily basis. The first is your self-image. But your attitude is vital to your success because it determines how you will respond to the negative things that may happen to you during the course of your business.
It is important to note that life by nature is filled with ups and downs and so it is a natural deterrent to success. The question is not IF something negative is going to happen to you sometime in your life but WHEN. Reading of positive-mental-attitude books by Napoleon hill and Norman Vincent-Peale will help to strengthen your resolve and will give you more mental toughness.
Building business requires two things: courage and mental toughness. You need courage in the beginning to get yourself started, but you need mental toughness to stay the course when things are rough. Your self-image will give you courage, but your attitude is controlled predominantly by the amount of mental toughness you possess. If you are expecting to be successful in business plan to run into some challenges and temporary setbacks.
Most businesses fail within the first five years of inception. This is a fact. However, I believe they don't fail, the people just quit because they don't have the mental fortitude to hang in there when the going gets tough. If that's not the story you want I implore you to pick up a book and watch your attitude go through the roof!
Reading strengthens your ability to communicate
There is no successful person on this earth that is not a good communicator. The ability to connect with people is of paramount importance if you are looking to be a successful business owner. It is important to note here that people misconstrue having good communication skills to translate into being a good talker and having all the right answers. A good communicator is actually the total reverse. A person with great people skills is actually very skilled at listening.
A lot of effective communication is active listening and the ability to help people express themselves and their ideas. Reading will greatly help you to improve your ability to communicate as well as improve your diction and word choice when talking.
There are a plethora of books on people skills by Les Giblin, Dale Carnegie and a host of other authors in any major bookstore in the United States. The information is out there so you have to go out there and find it.
Reading offers exposure to self counsel
The ability to self-correct is a skill that must be developed over time. This initially will only happen by first talking counsel from someone else like a mentor or close friend who knows more than you do. If you, however, do not have access to a mentor then reading is the next best thing you can do to mentor yourself.
The best thing about reading books is that all the advice is there for you to take or leave at your own discretion. You may have an ego, but you know that the book doesn't. This makes it easier for you to take action on what you are learning from the books because it is not someone personally telling you that you need to sharpen your listening skills and stop snapping at your employees. The reason for this is when you read you actually hear yourself through your inner ear and as a result you hear yourself giving advice to yourself and it makes it easier to take action on the advice given.
So the bottom line is leaders are readers. Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers. If you are looking to become an impact player in your industry then I suggest you start to form a healthy habit of reading daily. Start with fifteen minutes and work your way up to at least an hour a day if you're really serious. As much as the television is an awesome form of relaxation if that is what you're into, it really adds no value to your personal growth no matter what you're watching.
Take some of that relaxation time and relax by filling yourself with more wisdom that you can apply immediately and better your business.