Over the recent months I’ve started trying to read more, the benefits seem numerous: you learn more, you learn philosophies of great people and it ‘grounds’ you in a ‘present energy’ as opposed to the hormone fuelling television and other forms of media.
In the face of all these benefits it seems that all successful people should read. But the reality seems different. Dan Pena (the 50 billion dollar man and all around dick head) says he’s only read about 7 books in his lifetime, and no one would argue he isn’t successful. Frankly I’m pretty sure in some fields people can ascend with only a single book (i.e. Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People or Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich). Sam Walton created Wal-Mart and was worth $100 billion when he died, the man didn’t spend any of his time reading. (though his book is excellent)
Jack Canfield mentions how he once meet a homeless person in Malaysia with great potential, he gifted him a copy of his Success Principles, when he returned to the country a few years on the man had become a multimillionaire, just by applying all the principles from the book.
On the other side of the spectrum you have your Buffets (who reads for 8 hour a day), your Gates (who spends a week every year JUST reading). Tai Lopez reads a book a day. Generally most successful people, who are famous, read.
So why do some people decide to read, and others not to?
“Your values in life are dictated by your voids.” This quote came from some speaker at a 21 Convention. I can’t remember what he was talking about but the quote stuck with me. It explains why Tyler chose to pursue pick-up, he was a social retard as a kid. Body builders like Elliot Hulse and Brandon Carter were skinny runts who were bullied. My theory is that some people just needed to read books because their voids were there. Eric Thomas dropped out of school, Oprah used books and mentors to propel herself into stardom, this story is analogous for many self made millionaires and billionaires in the world.
Books are undoubtedly a huge asset. Warren Buffet bases all his business decisions on the knowledge he’s garnered. Winston Churchill managed to predict the first 40 days of the First World War using the lessons of history.
So who’s correct, should you read books or not? Alas, the answer isn’t as black and white as that. A question this complex cannot be answered as simple truths, if it could why would see this difference in reading habits?
The answer comes from an old adage from the Oracle of Delphi which has been echoed through the ages: “Know Thyself.”
Conduct experiments based on n=1, see which methods work for you. Maybe your own specific voids dictate that you should never read a book and merely work hard, and learn from hard-earned lessons. Or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum, read widely and deeply. Or maybe you’re in-between, books are supplementary and can be read though are not a necessity.
But whatever you choose, be under no misconceptions. Merely choosing to read books isn’t going to help you, lessons need to be applied to show a net change in your life. If you choose not to read make sure it is out of abundance and not out of scarcity.
For me, I’m trying to read more books to increase my knowledge, rather than these awful self-help books that keep being bandied around (frankly for those, just choose one that resonates with you and apply all the lessons you can). But maybe one day I’ll realise that books aren’t for me, and then I’ll stop reading entirely.
Always have your end goal in mind. Too often people are fixed on the path rather than their destination. Do whatever helps fulfil your goals, rather than become transfixed on the question of your mode of transport.