Will Reading About Success Really Make You Successful?

February 26, 2019

If you’re an aspiring business leader or entrepreneur, the maxim ‘knowledge is power’ may give you the motivation to plow through the thousands of business books that have already been written in pursuit of golden nuggets of success. However, without a plan to apply that knowledge, those nuggets may end up being of little value.

Even if you’re blessed with an eidetic memory and can store and recall information with ease, unless you have context for what you’re reading, when you’re reading it, and why you’re reading it, reading about success offers no guarantees that you will be successful.

WHAT you’re reading is critical to the effective use of your time. The trials and tribulations of Middle Earth or Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry might make for an entertaining evening, but will you really take away ideas that you can put to use tomorrow? If you’re stuck in a rut and looking for motivation, or you’re scared to death about starting your own business and looking for inspiration, then a biography of someone who has “been there, done that” would be a better use of your time.

WHEN you’re reading can also impact your choice of material. If you’re an aspiring business leader just taking your first steps on the career ladder, business classics from the likes of Peter Drucker, Geoffrey Moore, or Stephen Covey may be of more use to you than books by former CEO’s and other C-Suite executives.

If you’re giving serious thought to starting your own business, reading about the lives of successful entrepreneurs can be a valuable exercise. They may not be in the same industry sector, but the challenges they undoubtedly overcame on their journeys to success may offer both insight and motivation – “If they can do it, so can you.”

WHY you’re reading may actually lead you to question the value of reading all those books at all. If you struggle with procrastination, be careful that reading doesn’t become an excuse for not taking action. Knowledge is of limited value if it’s never applied. Much of what you will face in your working life has already happened to others in one way or another. Reading about it can help you prepare, but preparation is only effective when it leads to action.

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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.