Scott H Young

Read for Success


One trait that appears to be directly connected with the level of success in life is the amount of reading a person does. Gaining new knowledge is a key part of personal growth, and it always appears as if the most successful people are the ones that read the most and spend the most time self-educating. With a large amount of knowledge as a foundation, the possibilities and limits for what you can pursue are expanded greatly.

Education doesn’t stop when school is over. We are constantly growing and learning. In fact, that is the key principle of personal development. But many people neglect this principle and do not really invest in educating themselves beyond some arbitrary point such as a diploma or degree.

Knowledge forms the foundation of all the actions we can take and therefore all the growth we experience. By investing heavily in educating ourselves about a wide variety of subjects, we can greatly expand the opportunities for personal growth and development. Books are one of the few mediums today that can efficiently allow us to educate ourselves.

The best place to start would be to try to read a new book each week. Following this practice will result in reading around 52 books per year. This may require a bit of getting used to, especially if you have to trade some of your time watching television or doing other leisure activities to spend reading the books. However, if you do invest the time, you can greatly expand the amount of personal growth you can take.

If you are just starting this practice of reading a new book each week, I would suggest that you start by picking a topic you find incredibly interesting to begin reading. With any new habit you are going to need to convince your mind that reading is a more beneficial and fun activity than television or whatever activity it is replacing. Choosing a very interesting subject would be an excellent place to start.

For those of you who do read regularly, I would suggest a different practice. When we have a few areas of interest, it is easy to only read from a particular subject. Unfortunately, the time it takes to build expertise in an area is far greater than the time needed just to get a solid understanding.

Read from a wide variety of subjects, especially those which give you knowledge that you can apply to your own personal growth. Often the first few books you read on a subject will give you the most information after that you begin to slowly accumulate expertise. By reading from a wide variety of subjects you can gain a lot of new knowledge which can be applied to personal development.

Most importantly, a wide variety of subjects gives you the ability to view your own personal growth from a number of facets. Reading about diet, relationships, Buddhism, business and marketing has given me a number of completely different perspectives from which to pursue my own growth. This also allows me to create new insights into my own growth by making connections between to widely different subjects.

Whenever you read, you need to read with a purpose. Before you start any book you should think about why you are reading it and what you are trying to learn. By starting each book with a specific purpose in mind, your brain will sort and recall the information in a different manner. I personally have experienced the power of this, because I have sometimes re-read a book with a different purpose in mind. Sometimes this can even result in feeling like I was reading a completely different book!

Reading and gaining new knowledge can also be a great way to gain knowledge to solve a specific problem, rather than to increase our knowledge in general. If you have a specific problem, such as with your relationship or business, then reading a lot of information about the subject or that specific issue can help. By focusing our reading in this case we can gain a lot of new tools to help us tackle the problems we are faced.

I mention reading books once per week, rather than just a certain amount of reading because I feel books are generally a far better form of reading than alternatives. While reading magazines and online information can be incredibly valuable, there is a lot of worthless junk you need to sift through in order to encounter that value. Books on the other hand, tend to be formatted better to give detailed information and knowledge. So, while I strongly suggest pursuing free material to read on the internet and subscribe to worthwhile magazines, I would suggest starting any reading goal with books.

Once you have your reading habits in place, you don’t have to stop there. With all of the reading you are now doing, I would suggest trying to improve your reading techniques. Getting some books on speed reading can give you a lot of techniques and skills you can practice to increase the amount you read and your comprehension of it.

Another suggestion that really deserves a blog post of its own is audio material. Books on tape or CD are invaluable ways to gain new knowledge. If you have an mp3 player or an ipod you can generally put the whole book onto the device and listen to it whenever you have some time.

The great thing about this is that you can listen to books on tape when you can’t read, like when driving to work, exercising or doing remedial tasks like cleaning and cooking. This way you can listen to hours of audio material without having to take time out of your day to do it.

Audio material, especially those by personal development speakers, are also a powerful tool in motivation and enthusiasm. By listening to those inspiring and positive messages on a regular basis, it is easier to stay positive and enthusiastic about our own goals. I would suggest listening to these programs multiple times through, as the authors emphasis and enthusiasm are often just as important as the content provided in these programs.

So if you haven’t started already, I would begin by reading a book per week. If you are lacking funds right now and can’t afford to buy that many books, then I would suggest visiting your public library. I personally use amazon to make all of my book purchases, as I generally find I can get the largest selection at good prices. Unless there is a particular book I have wanted to read, I tend to just enter the subject I would like to know more about into the search bar and go from there.

Read every day to form the foundation of your own personal success.


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9 Responses to “Read for Success”

  1. Scott, I think you might like a book by the English author Tony Buzan called “Speed Reading” :) . I found it when I was at university a few years ago and it helped me enormously. I’ve just ordered another copy, in fact from amazon. Look it up the next time you’re there.

  2. Scott Young says:

    I’ve read some books on speed reading and I have found them fairly helpful.

    Its funny as I was browsing some of the comments people made about that book, someone pointed out that it has been “proven” that you can’t read over 700 words per minute without lowering to about 50% comprehension, even in speed reading experts. I myself read about 800 words as my average reading rate and I am still new to speed reading practices. It really bothers me when people like to quote a statistic or some study and use it as “proof” that something can or can’t be done, to disagree with them would be unscientific. Unfortunately, scientific studies can give us solid information, but it rarely ever gives certainty in its findings.

  3. Glenn says:

    I love to read, and I am always in the process of reading a book that will help me learn something new. But how do you read the book? I read a chapter circuling the page number and placing a mark beside what I think is a key point on that page. When I finish the chapter I go back and decide if, in fact that is a key point. Then I highlight it. For those books that I really find valuable, I go back and type up those highlights into an outline. I usually wind up with a 2-3 page document that I can refer to.

    I don’t outline all books, because frankly, you can’t judge a book by its cover. (You may have heard that before.-) Sometimes I find the author is full of it, or just pushing a point of view. Sometimes he or she is too academic. But those rare books that are valuable to me are worth the investment in time to outline. Then I can go back and review my notes in minutes. It’s a great refresher.

  4. Scott Young says:

    That is a great system for reading books, Glenn.

    It depends on my purpose for reading, how I read a book. Usually I read books mainly for conceptual information to get a general understanding of the authors thesis and key points.

    If I am reading a book to learn specific skills, then I usually have to read more slowly and make points.

    Thanks for the comments.

  5. [...] Reading – Reading has to be one of the best ways to pursue new ideas. Most of our communication is still written, so reading is an excellent method for gaining new ideas. Don’t just read online articles and blogs. Although there is some very genuine and quality information over the net, I find that with such a low entry barrier for publication you have to sift through a lot of junk to find it. Buy some books, better yet, go to your library and start reading for free. If you find it hard to read a lot of material, try a speed reading course to improve the amount of written material you can consume. I have written about the value of writing before, here. [...]

  6. [...] Reading – Reading has to be one of the best ways to pursue new ideas. Most of our communication is still written, so reading is an excellent method for gaining new ideas. Don’t just read online articles and blogs. Although there is some very genuine and quality information over the net, I find that with such a low entry barrier for publication you have to sift through a lot of junk to find it. Buy some books, better yet, go to your library and start reading for free. If you find it hard to read a lot of material, try a speed reading course to improve the amount of written material you can consume. I have written about the value of writing before, here. [...]

  7. This is a required book in CGSC (Command and General Staff College). Part of the book, and it is a dry read, speaks to the politics of the interwar period.

  8. Steph says:

    Hi! I just found your blog and now I’m going through all the articles that look catchy. Just wondering, do you use Goodreads?

Debate is fine, flaming is not. Pretend that this comment form is a discussion taking place in my house. That means I enjoy constructive criticism and polite suggestions. Personal attacks, insults and all-purpose nastiness will be removed especially if it is directed at other readers.

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