What’s the secret to Warren Buffet’s success? Easy, he says. He reads—a lot.
When Buffet first got started in investments, he says he’d read up to 1,000 pages a day, and to this day spends up to 80% of his working hours with a book or newspaper in hand.
Buffet’s financial wealth was built on the concept of compound interest. He says reading works in much the same way for your mind, accruing and growing your knowledge base in a way that makes you exponentially smarter with each book read.
Warren Buffet isn’t alone; the likes of Barack Obama, Mark Cuban and Elon Musk are all avid bookworms. Reading daily is a simple habit, but one most entrepreneurs simply don’t practice.
Why? Well, probably because like any habit, you have to force yourself to do it, day in and day out.
Without strong motivation to do it, reading can easily be passed up in favor of clearing your inbox or catching up on Netflix. Hopefully these five scientifically backed reasons will be motivation enough to make you reconsider picking up a good old fashioned book.
It Helps You Read Others’ Minds
What if you could predict your competitors’ next move or read a client’s mind on the other side of the negotiating table? Believe it or not, science says reading can give you that power.
As explained in the journal Science, reading can have a profound impact on our social perception, particularly our ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of others even without verbal cues.
But there’s a catch for acquiring this skill; it’s tied to a specific type of reading—literary fiction. Yep, all those classics you were forced to read in high school English actually come with a modern day entrepreneurial benefit! Who knew?
It Keeps Your Mind Sharper, Longer
As we age, our memory and brain function naturally decline. According to research published in the journal Neurology, reading regularly can slow the natural aging process and keep your mind sharper, longer.
It makes a lot of sense if you think of your brain like a muscle. If you work out regularly, you’ll be able to tackle going for a jog or lifting a heavy box much easier than if you spend your days sitting on the couch. Reading is like a workout for your brain, keeping its cognitive systems functioning smoothly.
It Improves Your Memory
Lord knows entrepreneurs have a lot on their minds pretty much 24/7. I’m constantly jotting things down on a never-ending Notes list in my phone so nothing important slips my mind.
Just as reading keeps your mind sharp, it also improves your memory, a benefit I like more than anything else on this list!
As experts explain, for your brain, watching TV or a movie is like walking down a straight, flat sidewalk. It’s hardly a challenge.
Reading, on the other hand, is more like a mental obstacle course. Your brain has to work hard to process the words, imagine the characters, and fill in the plot details that aren’t fully fleshed out within the text. As a result, your memory muscle grows stronger.
It Helps You Chill Out
Got ten minutes? How about just six?
In a 2009 study by the University of Sussex, researchers found that reading for as little as six minutes can reduce stress levels by up to 68%.
When you read something unrelated to work, be if biography or sci-fi, your brain literally disconnects from whatever’s stressing you out. Your heart rate naturally drops and your muscles relax.
If you’ve ever sat down to read and wound up waking up with the book on your chest a few hours later, you know firsthand how relaxing reading can be!
It Makes You More Primed for Success, Period
I’ve done a lot of research on successful people for this blog, and reading frequently is a common thread I see jump out again and again in their characteristics. Whether they’re in technology or fashion or the corporate world, successful individuals of all stripes regularly cite reading as one of the biggest contributing factors to their success.
We talked already about Warren Buffet earlier.
Here’s what Mark Cuban had to say about how reading helped him get ahead:
“I read every book and magazine I could. Heck, $3 for a magazine, $20 for a book. One good idea that lead to a customer or solution and it paid for itself many times over…
…Everything I read was public. Anyone could buy the same books and magazines. The same information was available to anyone who wanted it. Turns out, most people didn’t want it.”
Cuban makes a fascinating point. He’s not the next Einstein. All of the knowledge he has is available for any of us to go out there are take—yet we don’t. How’s that for motivation to read more?
Bill Gates has a diverse and expansive reading list covering everything from neuroscience to popular fiction. His mother was once quoted as saying Gates loved reading so much she had to ban books at the dinner table. Perhaps it’s no special genius at all, but a natural appetite for reading that sets these highly successful people apart.
Lucky for the rest of us, it’s a habit we can easily adopt simply by turning off the TV or putting down the cell phone 30 minutes earlier each night, opting to read instead. Or, conversely, picking up a newspaper over our morning coffee instead of scrolling through Facebook.
What’s the best book you’ve recently read? Anything you’re planning on reading next? Leave a comment below and let us know!
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