Lifelong Learning through Reading

August 19, 2010

By Dr. Carolyn Anderson

I recently moved further away from my office because it made sense for my family. I now have a 1 hour commute to the office and back home every day. I am on the road for 2 hours a day. Even if I am only going to the office 3 days a week that is still 24 hours a month and 288 hours a year that I am spending in my vehicle. That is close to the teaching time of a full semester at university.

Man learning by readingI was thinking lately about the issue of life-long learning. It is so important that we continue to learn and grow throughout our lives. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones put it best when he said “You will be the same person in 5 years except for the people you have met and the books you have read”.

When you think about it if you read one book a week for the next 5 years that would 260 books! That is a vast amount of knowledge to help you reach your potential. When I am travelling I turn my car into a mobile university. I listen to audio books, personal development CDs and business and surgical podcasts. This way I am gaining some knowledge and bettering myself as I travel. I have to admit I don’t always feel like being educated and sometimes I just crank up Sheryl Crow, U2 or Coldplay. But generally I’d rather spend the time learning something.

It has been said that standard education will get you jobs, and self-education will make you fortunes. This is no doubt true, and I believe that reading is a key skill necessary to self-education. Statistics say the average CEO reads four or five books per month, while the average person reads one book per year! This same statistic goes on to say that 60 percent of those who pick up a book don’t even get past the first chapter!

Here is another interesting fact: The average CEO of a Fortune 500 company will earn an average of 536 times the salary of the average employee of the company he runs. Now other than triggering a heated discussion on CEO compensation, this means that the employee of that company will work for almost a year and a half to equal the salary of the CEO for one day! What an extremely amazing statistic! Now, I am not going to suggest to you that the only difference between the CEO and the average employee is that the CEO reads a lot of books and the employee doesn’t, but I will suggest to you that is one of the major differences.

It seems that leaders are readers. I understand how busy all our lives are and finding the time to read and reflect can be a challenge. Yet I think if we want to reach our potential we must make it a priority. Even if you’ve already retired you could learn about starting your own business or learn more about a particular subject. Reading keeps your mind engaged and is also a great way to relax.

So be proactive and start a routine of reading.

Action Steps

  1. Pick a book that interests you and read for 30 minutes in the evening.
  2. Check out your local bookstore, Itunes or Amazon for some great audio books and pop one in while you are driving.

What was the last book you read? What book has been most influential in your life?

About the Author: Dr. Carolyn Anderson is the founder of Impowerage. Her mission in life is to empower older adults with the information they need to continue living healthy active lifestyles.

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  • http://agemyths.com Madeleine Kolb

    I am a great booklover. Right now I’m reading “Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone” by Mark Goulston which is very useful. The book with the most influence on my life is a much harder questions. I think the answer is Aerobics by Dr. Kenneth Cooper which I read way back when. But there have been so many books which opened my eyes to something new.

  • Margaret M

    I really enjoyed reading this. I am a historian and published author. I put a lot of fact into fiction pieces published. Even my book in production, Blow Up the Castle, took a lot of research… which I enjoy doing. I collect very, very old books and 1800s encyclopedias. Lots of good readin! I write for publication and I read for enjoyment. There is always a book on my coffee table. I have put your article to print, Dr. Anderson. Will read it aloud at one of the writer’s meetings

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