[January 6, 2020] It should be profoundly evident that reading for leaders is essential. Reading is vital for the development of the mind by introducing new ideas and ways of doing things. Leaders, in particular, gain from an assortment of thinking methodologies. Such methods are why we often say that when a leader thinks, it is not in a straight line.
Over the past five years or so, technological advances have made reading from, say, a book or magazine less problematic. For example, with access to the Internet comes a variety of podcasts, audiobooks, and videos (e.g., YouTube), and given a useful search feature, such social media has made the exploration of new ideas far easier.
There is, however, a downside to reading and listening to social media. There is no discussion. No back and forth dialogue produces a better understanding of ideas that are complex and have a long history. Such a disadvantage is neither fatal nor unattractive as a source of learning. A new step in the future may hold this final frontier of education, but we have not yet arrived.
As Professor Jordan Peterson puts it, “A book is like a portrait,” where there is layer upon layer of ideas. The picture remains the same, but there is greater depth in a book. It allows you to think and rethink, read and reread. It is much easier to go deeper into the meanings of the book’s author, especially as compared to any other medium.
Each medium comes with advantages and disadvantages. That is why I advocate for a multitude of sources. People cannot read a book or watch a video while driving a vehicle. They can listen to a podcast or an audiobook while traveling. Such mediums have an advantage over television, which has far less time to deliver an idea and are packed with oversimplifications and omissions.
The famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung once wrote that “Knowledge rests not upon truth alone, but upon error also.” Both the efficiency of our earthly duties and contentment of our minds demands that we error in private when reasonable. Reading is the method by which we can distort, reshape, and come to understand what the purpose of our calling as leaders are about in those duties.
A twisted path to the understanding of ideas is a path that never follows a straight line. That is why reading is so important to leaders.