The reading habit successful people swear by

Research shows broad reading habits are a common thread among our greatest leaders. Photo/getty
Research shows broad reading habits are a common thread among our greatest leaders. Photo/getty

There are certain practices that separate the financially successful from the rest of us mere mortals. And one daily habit shared among many of the world's leaders is that they read - A lot.

Research shows not only that broad reading habits are a common thread among our greatest leaders but that their reading habits are linked to characteristics such as empathy, insight, and personal effectiveness.

Bill Gates is well known for reading one book a week, his blog Gates Notes is full of book reviews and recommendations.

Mark Zuckerberg set himself a similar challenge to read a new book every other week in 2015, launching his book club A Year of Books.

Warren Buffet takes his reading to another level, making sure he reads between 600 to 1000 pages per day.

He estimates that 80 per cent of his working day is dedicated to reading.

In Tom Corley's book Rich Habits, he says that it isn't reading alone that is notable among the wealthy.

He explains that while the middle class read for entertainment, the highly successful read to educate themselves.

Preferring to read educational books and biographies of other successful people.

Successful Australians Suzanne Leal and Linda Bengston couldn't agree more.

Both women read a minimum of one book a fortnight on top of other reading material required for their work.

SUZANNE LEAL
Suzanne has a multifaceted career; she is a lawyer who sits on the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, she is the author of two novels Boarder Street and The Teacher's Secret and she is senior judge for the 2017 NSW Premier's Literary Awards.

Unsurprisingly, all of her roles involve reading. However, when time allows she would still choose to read for pleasure in a rare quite moment to herself.

Suzanne says there are many powerful reasons to make reading a priority.

1. Stay curious
Suzanne believes that reading keeps you curious. She see's it as a way to explore another point of view. "Reading encourages me to be questioning, curious and open to new thoughts," she says.

As well as impacting personal development, Suzanne appreciates that being well read helps her as a writer "I think reading impacts my writing enormously" she says.

"When I read, I learn what works in terms of narrative, plot, characterisation and dialogue, and what doesn't," she explains.

2. Challenge yourself
Suzanne sees reading as an opportunity to exercise your mind.

"When I read I feel that I keep my brain working," she says, viewing this as an opportunity to explore outlooks and lifestyles outside of her own.

"Reading increases my knowledge and gives me an insight into other cultures, philosophies and worlds," she explains.

3. Remember it's a privilege
Much of what Suzanne reads is required. "I rarely choose what to read, mostly I read in preparation either for a case or an interview or a review or as part of my role as a judge," she says.

Suzanne sees enforced reading as an advantage, "This means that I read more widely than perhaps I otherwise would," she explains.

Having a large reading load at work hasn't reduced Suzanne's appetite for books, rather it reminds her of what a luxury reading for pleasure is.

"When I have a rare gap in my reading commitments, I take advantage of the time to read books I've been meaning to read," she says.

LINDA BENGSTON
Linda is an executive at an IT support company in Brisbane and says that she spends at least three hours per day reading reports and technical documents related to her work.

However, she actively seeks out more reading material to devour in her downtime.

1. Self improvement
Linda believes that books provide access to unlimited education.

"I instinctively read to educate myself," she says. Although Linda will read fiction she tends to gravitate toward educational publications, finding them helpful in her leadership role.

"Alain de Botton's books are excellent for gaining a deeper understanding of the human condition," she explains.

2. Broaden your interests
Linda reads a variety of material - "I usually have at least three books on the go at once, mostly nonfiction."

She believes it's healthy to explore her varied interests "from philosophy, to leadership and even cooking and travel".

Although Linda gravitates toward nonfiction, occasionally she finds a great work of fiction that she can't put down "I'll generally focus on that one book until it's finished," she says.

3. Leadership skills
Linda believes leadership requires a balance of technical and interpersonal skills.

"Typical leadership publications tend to focus around strategy and motivation," she says.

Linda likes to balance that out with books that explore other aspects of leadership "books that address leading with compassion and keeping things in perspective," she explains.

WHAT TO READ
So if one of your new year's resolutions was to be a more successful version of yourself, perhaps you should start a book club.
Here are six books read and recommended by the successful.
• The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner - featured on Mark Zuckerberg's Year of Books.
• Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises by Tim Geithner - Warren Buffet is quoted as saying it's "a must-read for any manager".
• String Theory by David Foster Wallace - Bill Gates says this is one of his favourite books of 2016. "Wallace found mind-blowing ways of bending language like a metal spoon" he says.
• The Return by Hisham Matar - This thoughtful and philosophical book comes recommended by author Suzanne Leal.
• Alive, Alive Oh! by Diana Athill - This candid memoir reminds us of what really matters and comes recommended by Linda Bengston.
• Rich Habits by Tom Corley - Because in order to be successful you must understand what successful look like.

- news.com.au

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