Your working life is, by definition, experiential. You can earn degrees and certifications, but much of your skill set will be developed through time in the trenches. How long you remain in those trenches will depend on how well you utilize your time.
You have the same twenty-four hours available to you as every other aspiring business leader. You can use that time to grind through a traditional training program with pre-determined blocks of time in every department, or you can work smart and learn from those who have gone before.
Reading about the successes and failures of other business leaders, whatever their industry, allows you to experience their working lives vicariously and to learn those lessons as an objective observer. Knowledge is cumulative, so the more you read, and the greater the diversity of topics you read about, the broader your skill set will become.
Warren Buffet attributes much of his success to spending as much as eighty percent of his day reading books, industry journals, and newspapers. Bill Gates still reads at least one book a week, and Mark Cuban devotes three hours a day to reading. Why would already-successful business people still continue to devote so much of their valuable time to reading? Because of the clear payoffs:
- A broader knowledgebase makes you more creative, analytical, and less vulnerable to biases.
- Staying current on trends and new developments in your industry gives you the self-confidence of knowing that you are working with the best data available in your decision-making.
- Sticking to a plan to read a certain number of books or a specific number of hours per day builds self-discipline and self-motivation
As a business leader you will come across challenges that may seem unsurmountable in the moment, but the reality is that someone somewhere has probably experienced a similar problem and found a workable solution. Would you rather spend time figuring it out by trial and error or learn from someone else who did that for you and took the time to write the experience down for future leaders?
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Sarah Dayton is the Editor-in-Chief at Soundview. When not in the office or at her desk at home, she can be found on area walking trails or patronizing small, local businesses. She is also a board member of the local land trust. Sarah and her husband, Sam, are “empty nesters” and currently share their 1824 PA farmhouse with two spoiled basset hounds.