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December 13, 2013

Reading: One of the Surprising Habits of “Smart People”

Business

Jeff Cochran

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Last month, we began a series that is focused on discussing some of the surprising characteristics that are commonly found among the world’s smartest people. Even though these brilliant individuals may excel in a wide variety of fields, there are certain habits and tendencies that they have in common.

Did you know that many of the world’s smartest people are enthusiastic readers? In the era of smart phones and tablets, fewer and fewer people seem interested in picking up a book, but it is actually one of the most common habits of brilliant individuals. Highly respected individuals such as Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill, and Phil Knight are all famous for their passion for reading.

 

Read to Lead

Many of our most brilliant leaders have been prolific readers, which indicates that reading can actually improve your abilities as a leader. One study found that reading not only increases your vocabulary and expands your knowledge of the world but also heightens your abstract reasoning abilities. In addition, reading novels has been linked to an increased ability to empathize with others, which allows leaders to work together more effectively.

 

Other Benefits of Reading

Improved leadership skills are not the only benefits of reading. Some of the other benefits of reading include the following:

–  Enhanced writing skills. Unsurprisingly, enhancing your awareness of vocabulary, grammar, and style through reading will naturally carry over to your ability to write well.

– Reduced stress. Immersing yourself in a book, even for just a few short minutes, can allow you to temporarily escape the stress of your daily life and can even have physical benefits, such as reducing your heart rate.

– A lowered risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Not only can reading improve your memory, it can even help to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s, as a recent study discovered that older individuals who read are 2 ½ times less likely to develop the disease.

 

Make Reading a Habit

Even if you feel like you are too busy to incorporate reading into your daily life, there are plenty of small changes you can make to begin enhancing your reading habit. For instance, you could choose to read books that are related to your work in order to expand your knowledge in that field.

On the other hand, you could try selecting just one book to read this year that is outside your comfort zone. Pick up a popular novel or a book of poetry that is completely unrelated to your normal life. You may be surprised to find that you learn applicable life skills even in the most random books!

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