Did you know that reading is not only an important part of your personal development, but also your professional development?  Reading helps you develop and build skills that you can apply in your business and professional life.  Reading is continuous learning in its simplest form.

You have no doubt seen articles where top business leaders share their reading lists.  In fact, Bill Gates just came out with the 5 amazing books he read this year.  Bill is quoted as saying that “reading is my favorite way to indulge my curiosity.”  And according to Harvard Business Review, “those who want to lead, read”.

So what is it about reading that helps your professional development?  When you read, you become more knowledgable.  Reading can open your eyes and mind to new ideas, new ways of thinking and doing.  Reading will expand your vocabulary and improve your communication skills.  Need some talking points for your next meeting with associates, clients, or a new networking contact?  Mention your latest read and maybe share a copy of the book with them.  Reading can enhance your writing, analytical skills, and problem-solving skills.  Reading may improve your emotional intelligence skills, including empathy.  And if all of that isn’t enough, reading can help you relax and reduce anxiety and stress.  Reading might also help you quiet and train your mind to be more attentive and focused.  You may even find that you sleep better.

You may think that because this is a business blog, I’m suggesting that you read business books.  Well, sure, why not? But, I’m not suggesting you only read business books.  Reading any genre will benefit you.  And you will become a better and more engaged reader in the process.  Choose books that will keep you reading.  In fact, the best way to get started reading is to read books that interest you.  Once you’ve developed a habit of reading, you can start introducing books that are outside of your comfort zone.  But in the end, don’t ever limit yourself to just one genre.  Endeavor to keep your reading diversified.  You will be surprised what you can learn and apply in the workplace from reading a good novel, an autobiography, a history book, or even a fable.

I facilitated a business book club for many years, and even in that setting, we didn’t limit ourselves to only traditional business books.  Our selections ranged from the most classic and traditional business books (Dale Carnegie, Peter Drucker, Stephen Covey, Jim Collins, David Allen, Tom Peters, Ken Blanchard, and Marcus Buckingham to name a few), to biographers and historians like Doris Kearns Goodwin (Team of Rivals), to pure nonfiction Laura Hillenbrand (Unbroken).  We also read a lot in the hybrid genre that includes authors like Malcolm Gladwell, Thomas Friedman, Steven Levitt, and Daniel Pink – again to name a few.

Once you yourself have become a voracious reader, why not pass on your love of reading and continuous learning?  You can help create a culture of reading in your workplace.  Share what you are reading.  Start a reading challenge.  Start a book club.

I am currently in the final stretches of my 2017 reading challenge.  I’m just short of my goal, with less than a month left, so should probably get back to my reading.  I’m currently re-reading the holiday classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

So, what’s on your reading list?  For pleasure or business?  Or maybe it’s for both.  Happy reading!

Submitted by Deborah M. McCormick