I’m not sure where I first heard the expression “the reader is the leader” but it’s something that stuck with me my whole life. I am now in my second year of retirement from teaching and coaching after 37 years doing both. When I think about what I should do in my retirement, one thing that keeps coming to mind is the need to read some good books. I’ve always believed that reading can help you become the best version of yourself for others. When you are busy coaching and teaching, as I have been for many years, it can be very difficult to find time or make time to read. My goal is to slow down reading books that will allow me to continue to grow and make an impact in other ways.
I started my quest for more knowledge by listening to a podcast by Chris Wirth from Doesn’t Stop Living. The guests are successful people from all walks of life. I love hearing all the great ideas his guests come up with time and time again. As I listen Doesn’t Stop Living, I noticed many of the guests referred to their reading and how it was a priority in their life. It inspired me to look for books that uplift me 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-authored a booklet entitled: Positive Tribe. In the book they share many great ideas, but one that resonates with me is “We Rise by Lifting Others Up.” I love the idea; what a great way to live life. I wondered what kinds of books Wirth and Quartlebaum liked, and found that Wirth read books that influenced him personally and professionally. I decided to pick one from the list to read.
The book I chose was Energy Buses by Jon Gordon. Many of my friends who coached and taught before told me they enjoyed reading it. The lessons I learned and chose to apply are many. The pearls of the book include the phrase: we are all our own bus drivers; we attract what we think; the mind is magnetic, we must fill our life journey with positive energy (to attract the same things in return), and we get what we give to find what we seek.
Now when I start reading any book I always take notes and write down the things that really touched me, after I finish reading a book I type my notes so I can refer to them more easily. As I write this article, I refer to my book notes as well to refresh my memory.
As I continued on my reading journey, I realized that what I enjoyed most was reading about what other people had done that I wanted to do. My next reading is Chopping Wood Carrying Water by Josh Medcalf. Josh emphasizes throughout his book that every inch counts. Every little thing we do matters. Everything you choose to read, listen to, or view matters. She suggests it’s not hard to read 10 pages of a good book every day or take a twenty-minute walk to stay healthy. Medcalf shares an interesting story about a young boy who acquired the necessary skills from a mentor. Mentors always teach young people through a series of steps how to acquire mastery of any skill. He makes readers feel like they’re taking part in the journey with him and they can go it alone too.
The next book I can’t wait to dive into is Hit the Rock 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, Alabama football coach say the following many times: “Commit to the process of what you do over the result, it happens 1% of the time, and the people who are successful keep swinging the hammer one more time. -The most important thing is that they keep swinging.”
Lessons I’ve learned Hit the Rock can be summed up in phrases like: “Work in the dark so you can shine a light, get comfortable in uncomfortable circumstances to thrive, or most people take shortcuts instead of doing the work.” One of the main things I have taken from this book and used for myself and others is to work in the dark so you can shine in the light! You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable to grow. Most people just take shortcuts instead of doing the work. This headstone is a lesson for people to become better versions of themselves.
The next step in my reading journey is Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn. This is the story of an ordinary postman who makes a difference to everyone he comes in contact with. Fred does this by going beyond what is required and exceeding day-to-day expectations. Some of the lessons learned from the book for me are as follows: Do good and you will feel good, it is best never to rest, treat customers and other people as friends, make the most of every day, the impact you make on others is the prize, treat others the way you want to be treated, and fear nothing but wasting your time. Fred is an ordinary person who treats people with dignity and kindness and that is what sets him apart from others.
Think and Get Rich by Napolean Hill is my next read. Written in 1937, it is the 6th best selling book of all time and I still have never heard of it. After reading it I started to realize why people enjoy it so much. One of the many lessons I learned from Napolean Hill was what he would do when he finished 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 I read was Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. The title is not attractive, but this book is very enlightening. The lesson learned is: Don’t work for money, make your money work for you, buy assets and not liabilities, assets are things that put money in your pocket, liabilities are things that take money out of your pocket, and the rich buy assets and not an obligation. The author suggests that people should take more time to learn than earn. Know a little about a lot and surround yourself with people who know a lot. It’s a simple message but makes a lot of sense to me and is something I’ve been trying to implement since reading this book.
Reading has led me to some great information. My only regret is that I didn’t take the time to read more until I retired. Remember “Leaders are Readers” and hopefully this will give you some new information to start your journey.