Resolve to Read Complex Stories More Often
Leaders and team members spend the bulk of every day staring at screens, with a significant reliance on their smartphones.
Time that was once spent reading books and other complex information has dried up, constituting minutes for some and no time at all for others. The consequences of this shift toward technology and social media and away from in-depth reading are severe. We are losing the ability to focus deeply and maintain the resolute attention required for learning.
For many leaders, reading a book or sophisticated monograph is the deepest form of mindful focus they experience. Allowing one topic to sit on the mind and marinate for an extended period of time is unlike any activity the brain undergoes. The capacity for thinking deeply and absorbing real understanding is enhanced by reading texts that can’t be quickly skimmed or scanned. The best leaders resolve to do more reading, not less, with each passing year.
When leaders consistently expose themselves to the fragmented and disconnected information supplied on their phones, they lose the sense of deep connectedness essential to achieve new insights.
Ironically, as leaders have moved from books to screens, their skills at reading continue to diminish. This makes the act and enjoyment of conquering complex information less enjoyable and rewarding, thereby making them less likely to read. Breaking through this destructive spiral is critical work.
Making a resolution to read more and scan less will pay dividends throughout the year. Even reading fiction increases a leader’s empathy, as they get to imagine how other people and characters see and experience things. So, read deeply and read a lot. In the words of author Fran Lebowitz, it is a good policy to think before you speak and to read before you think.