I come from a family of readers. No matter what else was going on, everybody always had at least one book going. Especially my Mimi. She was a voracious and passionate reader, and she passed down that same love and appreciation for books on to me. From the moment I could understand the words on the page, I have been eager to read.
But for many, many years, I had it stuck in my head that reading was purely for entertainment.
There was a small period of time when my parents were trying to quit smoking. They were listening to Zig Ziglar on cassette and reading Allen Carr’s book about it. But they were never successful. (Plenty of people have been with these though, this isn’t a comment on the effectiveness of these sources.) Unfortunately, I think that set the tone for me not being able to see much value in reading for personal development.
So for a long time, I just read for fun. Fantasy and science fiction have always been my favorite fiction genres, and I’ve always enjoyed biographies of pretty much anybody.
Then when I started taking Kung Fu in my early 20s, I started to expand my reading range a bit. Both my teacher and more experienced classmates had several books that they used to increase their martial arts knowledge. That grew even further the longer I was there when philosophy became an increasingly important aspect of the art.
But since I didn’t really enjoy reading most of it, I felt like I wasn’t cut out for it. I had the completely wrong intention of reading these books because I still felt that reading should be fun.
It took a long time and a strong desire to grow as a person, but I eventually managed to adjust my thinking.
It’s just like with anything else. Reading requires focus and intention, and if your only intention is to relax and enjoy it, a lot of personal development books probably won’t work for you.
But I don’t say that to discourage you from trying!
Everybody has to start somewhere, and sometimes you have to trudge through until you’re ready for it. That’s what I did, and eventually, I just got there.
For me and a lot of other people, reading is what closes the divide between learning and knowing. You can hear about something all day long, but you might not soak it in until you read about it.
This is especially true in sales.
You’ll have bosses, classes, seminars, and all of that telling you how to sell better. But until you make the choice to read (or listen to) a book about how to sell better, you might not soak any of it in.
Another huge consideration when reading for personal development, don’t pigeonhole yourself into one subject or area of a subject.
If learning how to sell better is your goal, you’ll want to read a lot of sales books. And that’s a perfect and logical place to start. There are some great sales books out there, and they can impart a lot of value.
But once they start sounding a bit monotonous or you feel like you’ve learned everything you can from them, branch out. Read about psychology, communication, marketing, entrepreneurship, management and leadership, general self-help. All of these can have a huge impact on how you interact with everybody around you, including your prospects. You’ll be able to take the lessons learned from sales books and see the bigger picture.
The point is, if you want to keep improving, go deeper.
You are not going to find that depth in a free lead magnet; you might not even get it in a new sales book.
If you are not learning new ideas from books, look to other areas to get new ideas.
For me, that comes from two main areas:
Other hobbies that require improvement, e.g. martial arts, biking, poker, etc.
Reading about psychology helps me understand all the sales stuff I have been learning for years on a whole new level. It helps me understand people’s needs and motivations better, and it helps me communicate with them more meaningfully.
Reading about hobbies that I have put a lot of work into often uncovers insights that I wouldn’t get otherwise. It also helps with the discipline and practice side of improvement in sales and everything else.
Since I’m been on an enormous, almost year-long now journey towards personal development and improvement, philosophy has opened even more doors into what inspires me. It’s completely changed and improved my journaling practice, and it also bleeds more life and understanding into my sales knowledge.
Reading for personal and/or professional development may not be easy, not at first anyway. My partner is a huge lover of books; she reads constantly. And even she struggles with reading those kinds of books.
But when you’re open and ready for them, you’ll be shocked about how much more you’ll gain from those versus the other avenues of learning we have.
It really comes down to choice. You probably have to go to trainings and seminars. But you choose what you read to expand your knowledge. That choice will help you gain so much more than you would from everything else.
If nothing stands out for you or you don’t know where to start, look for the overlaps in the other things you’re passionate about. Just like I tie in poker and martial arts to sales and communication, you can find parallels between your hobbies and your passions with whatever you are looking to improve.
And lastly, don’t force yourself to finish a book. I used to do it, my partner still does it. It’s not worth your time. Set it down and save it for later. If the book is worth reading, it’ll be there when you’re ready for it.
Be sure to follow me on Facebook and LinkedIn. My goal is to start sharing my favorite and most impactful books with you. Or, if you can’t wait, just text me. 817-345-7449. I’m always happy to give book recommendations!