I read constantly. Until recently, I've never really calculated just how much time I spend researching, reading and fuelling my need to know; like an unquenchable thirst to gain a clearer understanding on why things are so, explore other ways to successfully do things, and gain updates on what’s the latest on a particular topic. Unsurprisingly, knowledge is one of my top 3 motivators [read: core driver].
Lately, I’ve been auditing how I use my time, in a conscious effort to reduce distractions and increase productivity. I’ve got big 2020 BRAGS [Big Radical Aspirational Goals] and ambitious plans; I know that to achieve those, I will need to be on my A game [read: embed new rituals and deliberate routines].
Not one to watch those mind-numbing, overly dramatic reality TV shows, or anything much else other than news and real Australian stories on the telly; I spend most post-dinner evenings scrolling my iPhone, or with computer on lap searching some topic of interest. When I add it up – day plus evening screen time, I spend a MASSIVE amount of time staring at these devices. No wonder my reading glasses script recently needed upgrading – yet again.
So, after personally berating myself for succumbing to what is touted as a Gen Y affliction, and all that ‘lost time’, I started looking at ways to cut that down, especially at night; like putting a small stack of unread books beside my lounge recliner. Read books instead, I thought. There’s always a pile of six or so books on the go and at least one new release in the post. Much better use of my time, right? Make my way through the ‘unread’ shelf of my library, instead of device scrolling.
Then, after weeks of failing to implement this new evening ritual with those same six books gathering dust on the coffee table, I realised why: I AM reading – just online. I’m not mindlessly scrolling other’s social media posts, except perhaps for a little late night tweeted opinions from socially conscious and politically aware colleagues; but hang on – that’s researching too! In fact, what I’m actually spending most of my evening recliner time doing is reading the latest online articles, research papers and opinion pieces, so I AM actively gaining a broader and deeper view on things. And, I'm often interrupting my partner's recliner time to share key points from some important stuff I've just read [not always as important to him at that moment, I'm sure].
My point is: that’s actually NOT wasting time; it’s utilising a valuable resource that we didn’t have a decade or two ago. Reading anytime, anywhere, from any resource.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love reading [read: collecting] hard copy books. While I enjoy cleaning out my wardrobe every six months, I do find it hard to thin out my ever-growing library of books. The last couple of years, without even checking my bank statements, I can safely say I’ve spent more money on books, education and course material than I have on clothes and accessories combined. Living in tropical North Queensland and working from my home office [sarong = uniform], means I rarely need to dust off the corporate wear and killer heels. I get more buzz out of reading, learning and growing; and then sharing that with my clients in programs, presentations and writing.
When you dive deeply into the FAVE 5 Formula I outline in my book – Rock Your Stripes; the ‘how to unleash your full arse version’ section [Part II]; success in all five areas requires continual learning, growing and evolving, That’s how to keep building and fuelling your confidence, competence and courage to step up, stand out, and speak up, and to lead change. You have to be growing to keep your life and career flowing.
Here’s a brief overview of my FAVE 5 Formula:
INDIVDUALITY … needs continual reflection and deep self-awareness of what makes you unique - your beliefs, values, passions, motivators, and purposeful goals; which can significantly change and evolve through the various chapters of your life.
INDEPENDENCE … is considerably enhanced by the ability to remain employable or able to provide valued, sort-after services, by staying relevant to ensure you have career choices and financial sustainability.
INITIATE … requires situational awareness of what’s really going on around you, to flag when changes are necessary, to then drive those with current knowledge that strengthens the agility required to leap towards new opportunities.
INFLUENCE … involves inspiration, passion, credibility and trust, and being clear on what you stand for, to back that up with knowledge and experience, and consistently walk your talk.
INVOLVED … takes courage to step outside of your comfort zone, to be proactive instead of complacent, and step into the arena with a knowing confidence and deliberate purpose.
So, for those of you who choose to spend significant time reading and gaining knowledge, in any shape or format; remember this:
You are not the same person you were last year, last month, last week, or an hour ago.
You are continuously increasing your intelligence and decreasing your ignorance, and will potentially make a bigger impact on the world. I applaud you. The world needs more of you to step up and lead the way.
For those of you still trying to 'find time' to fit in reading; I urge you to do a serious audit on where you are choosing to spend you time. Reflect on that and commit to embedding a new reading ritual for 2020.
In a world where so much educational and current research is readily available on line for free … head-in-sand ignorance is a choice – a poor one.
Happy reading ...
Written by Jilinda Lee - recognised leadership coach and mentor for leaders and managers, Chartered Manager ambassador for the Institute of Managers and Leaders, and Regional Leader for the Lean In global movement – encouraging and enabling more women to step up into lead roles.
Founder and Managing Director of Vital Leaders, and President of Lean In Queensland, Jilinda is a passionate presenter, thought-leading commentator, and writer on all things leadership and diversity related.
Jilnda Lee's mission is to raise the leadership bar, by developing more dynamic leaders and boosting diversity at the decision-making tables.
Her recently released book - Rock Your Stripes is available from major bookstores and online distributors.