What is the one thing that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet both wish they were able to do?
It’s not the ability to fly anywhere in the world on a private jet at their merest whim. It’s not the potential to own any car, home or gadget under the sun.
They can already do those things. When asked;
“If you could choose one superpower, what would it be?”
Gates and Buffet both answered, “The ability to read super-fast.”
Successful people are inextricably linked to the books they read. Success gurus and the media frequently probe them, asking questions like:
- What is your favorite book?
- Which book has contributed the most to your success?
- When are you going to write a book about all of your accomplishments?
Around the world, the elite and prosperous are connected through a love of reading.
It seems, however, that regardless of which books they choose to spend their time in studying, there are certain attitudes that they have towards the art of reading that are universal.
The die-hard success gurus and story-hungry journalists might not notice these trends in their frenzy for a quick fix and a one-off answer;
“What is the one book that will solve all my life problems?”
but careful study reveals that these five traits are exhibited by pundits, moguls, entrepreneurs, millionaires and billionaires the world over.
They know that the lifelong learning to be found in constant reading is something to be taken seriously. With that in mind, here are five ways successful people treat books differently.
Take them and channel them into building your own personal reading habits for long-term success.
1. They Don’t Just Read, they Mine for Gold
Tai Lopez, millionaire entrepreneur and founder of the Knowledge Society, has famously claimed to read a book a day. Whether or not these claims are true, he exhibits many of the traits that exemplify successful reading habits.
One of the most important tips he offers on reading is this: don’t read for the overall ideas, read for the one to three “gold nuggets” that every book possesses.
Tai and other success-oriented readers know that authors often only have a very few key points that they want to share, and the rest of the book is just foundation for or support of those key bits of insight.
“Who do you think will have more benefits in their life?” Tai asks. “Person A, who reads one book a month really slowly so that they get every little word? Or somebody who just takes the best golden nugget of knowledge out of thirty books in a month?”
If you want to feel more fulfilled and see more tangible benefits from your reading, use this technique: read through each book like a prospector searching for gold and pick out the nuggets from the pages where you find them.
These key pieces of knowledge will be the quotes that alter how you think or the suggestions for habits and actions that change how you move toward success.
Once you start implementing them in your life you will see the profound power of reading that you never before experienced.
2. They Don’t Finish Bad Books
The second way in which successful people treat books differently, is that they don’t finish bad books.
You may have heard the saying, “Time is money,” but if there’s one trait that all millionaires share (apart from their love of learning) it really is an appreciation for the value of their own time.
The art of non-finishing is a natural extension of that appreciation, because if you are forcing yourself to choke down a book that you don’t enjoy you are wasting time that you could be spending growing, learning and improving your life.
“Starting something doesn’t automatically justify finishing it,”
Wrote entrepreneur and success hacker Tim Ferriss in his bestselling book The 4-Hour Workweek.
“More is not better, and stopping something is often 10 times better than finishing it.”
3. They Frequently Gift them to Friends
Humans are social animals, and we often work best by throwing ideas back and forth with each other like a game of creativity catch, where the concepts and schemes get deeper and more interesting with every pass.
However, we also have a tendency to surround ourselves with people who look like us, act like us and, most regrettably, think like us. And, as any entrepreneur could tell you, your greatest successes will come only when you start thinking outside the box.
After a while, you and your closest comrades will have exhausted all avenues of conversation, you will resort to the age-old and recycled conversations of the past and the blade of your creativity sword will become dull with disuse.
Maybe you’ve already reached that point and are desperate for anything to spark the sort of fascinating and engrossing conversations you had in the past. So, what is a great way to promote intellectually stimulating conversation?
Gift your friends with the books that have been most impactful in your life.
Successful people realize several things about the power of gifting books that may not have occurred to you:
First, you will be giving your friends something incredibly special, an insight into how you think.
Second, you will be giving them a chance to change how they think and act in a positive way, because if the book was good enough to gift to them then it was probably one that had a beneficial effect on your life.
Finally, gifting books will rejuvenate your conversations and elevate them to a whole new level. The recipients will doubtless find things in the course of reading that never occurred to you, and exploring your gift in discussion will be an amazing opportunity to grow your minds together.
4. They Use them as Springboards for Thought & Action
In order for a book to help you become more successful it must do something to change how you think or act. If a book doesn’t make you reevaluate your perspectives or change how you do things then it has not been a meaningful experience.
You should strive to be reading the works of authors that challenge your beliefs.
Authors that propose alternative strategies for thought or action that you had not previously considered. And that motivate you to evolve into the type of person that will fulfill your greatest potential.
When you finish reading and mining your gold nuggets from a work, you should have plenty of ideas about how to move forward.
Whether you have written down meaningful quotes that will inspire you in the days to come or jotted down notes on how to implement new strategies for success in business or life, there should be something tangible in your hands at the end of your reading.
Many business-people, for example, will read the autobiographies of successes in their field not just for the bits of sales wisdom but also to catch a glimpse of the mindset necessary for outstanding achievement.
They take take what they learn and try to reverse-engineer the same mentality by duplicating the actions of the author. Your mind is just as potent a tool as your hands, and reading the words of those who have come before is the best way to learn what it really means to have a successful perspective.
5. They Re-Read
Finally, successful people treat books differently by re-reading!
Tai Lopez has said that books are a reference guide, to be brought out and reused again and again over time.
The best books are the ones that you can take out just weeks, days or even hours after finishing them and still find something new, thought-provoking or actionable that you missed before.
Seneca, a Roman philosopher of Stoicism whose words are as wise and applicable now as they were more than a thousand years ago, once wrote to his friend Lucilius;
“You should be extending your stay among writers whose genius is unquestionable, deriving constant nourishment from them if you wish to gain anything from your reading that will find a lasting place in your mind.”
In other words, the only way that something will stay in your mind long after you read it is if you read it again and again and again. Until you have learned it and it has become a part of you.
When asked, many successful readers have responded that they read books at least three times. The first time for an overview of the work, the second time to find its gold nuggets and the third time to fix those little pieces of wisdom in their minds.
Each pass is brings them a deeper understanding of things they had learned before.
Everyone knows that reading will make you smarter and more successful. But instead of focusing on the “why” and “how” of reading, most people focus on the “what”.
Knowing what to read is useless if you don’t know how to read well. Reassessing the reasons why you read and the methods you use to acquire new knowledge will elevate you to the level of the greatest successes in the world.
Do you agree with the way successful people treat books differently? Leave a comment below.