You haven’t got time to read? You haven’t got time not to!!
Noun - a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
That is my relationship with reading for my profession and my life. I read. My tendency to buy, borrow and invest in books to read is a habit, and unlike many other habits that I strive to break, this one is a positive game changer.
The phrase Standing on the shoulders of giants is a metaphor which means "Using the understanding gained by major thinkers who have gone before in order to make intellectual progress" (The phrase finder) and the attribution dates back to 1159. As a science teacher by craft, I am more familiar with this phrase being used by Sir Isaac Newton in a letter to his rival Robert Hooke dated 5 February 1676. This is how I see my need for reading. A need to use the thoughts and understanding of others to drive my thoughts forward. Reading enables me to disrupt my own thoughts with creative ideas and perspectives that bring me to a new place of understanding or risk taking.
As an educational consultant, I am frequently asked to help leaders find solutions. It is the part of the job that I love (although to be honest I LOVE most of it!) Being able to see a big picture, focus in on detail, find the balance between research and practicality is a challenge that feels like home. Is it that my brain is just wired that way? No. I think it comes from years of willingly seeking and taking on new ideas, rereading older ones in a new context and actively collaborating.
I am encouraging clients this year to ask a lot of questions, be more curious and say ‘I don’t know’ more. This drives a willingness for change, an open relationship with risk and a comfort in challenge. Most of my work is within the education sector but this mindset is fully transferable. We spend many hours seeking motivation, drive, and the skill to impact our world. A fresh mindset is like fresh air; it energises you and brings about the tingle of progress. Where to start? Read.
There is a lot of research regarding confirmation bias; finding readings, thoughts and opinions that already align with our own. Well can I give you permission to break free of proving to yourself that you are already right! Read to challenge your thoughts. You don’t need to agree with your readings however, the new perspective almost always enables you to drive your own ideas forward.
Shall we address the elephant in the room? Reading a book takes too much time. You don’t need the lecture on how many hours we dedicate to Netflix, that is for a different purpose, to relax and support our wellbeing. I agree, however we don’t see time as the burden in that example. So why does reading have a time burden as the first barrier? Having unsuccessfully tried to get leaders to read whilst a headteacher, I have given this a lot of thought and come up with some solutions.
1. You don’t have to read the book from cover to cover. Dipping into relevant chapters is fine.
2. You ARE allowed to write in books – you are an adult now! Writing notes, prompts and highlighting helps you to remember, refer to and make sense of ideas in the book.
3. You can have more than one book on the go at one time or put one down if you don’t like it.
4. Finding an idea in a book is not cheating!
5. You can reread ideas from books when you forget them.
I am going to stop there because the ‘power of five’ is a cognitive method to help people remember and manage a new idea (I read that in a book!)
Also, books have never been more accessible on so many platforms as they are today. Audiobooks I tend to save for my downtime fiction reading but whatever works for you. The introduction of podcasts is also another great source of information, not reading perse but the same mindset of listening to the ideas of others. I subscribe to ‘Blinkist’ which is an app giving you bite sized summaries of books. I find this a great way to either source a range of ideas quickly or select the books that interest me, and I would like to buy.
At Christmas I have an advent page on my website that recommends a different book each day (along with daily thoughts and skills to try) I buy books for others whenever I get the chance. I direct people towards books that I think will be relevant for their current situation and now I’m writing a blog about reading!!! Why the reading drive? You spend a long time in your own head, and it is refreshing to hear a new thought! Maybe, if you are reading this, you are already a reading convert; I guess people who don’t like reading out of choice won’t be searching out blogs
If you are looking for some new reads or want to pick reading up as a habit, then the picture is the pile of books that I will be reading by Christmas. Some are rereads, some are controversial, some are life, some are education and leadership and some are business development (my new reading genre). If you don’t know where to start, maybe one of the books from my pile will interest you.
Of course, collaboration is a two-way street so you are very welcome to leave book recommendations in the comments section of this blog if you think it will be of interest to others.
If you would like to listen to my podcast then here is a link; https://open.spotify.com/show/6lY9xd0fSAU4hc75bgVQVc?si=SvWlDxmPQROgwT-udlkUUA&dl_branch=1
The new series of ‘Start…’ podcasts will soon be uploaded to Spotify – This academic year the focus will be to start some great habits … why not start with reading!