RDD is a serious but treatable affliction. Symptoms of RDD include lack of vision, shortness of new ideas, lameness of the brain and thumbsucking. The job of a leader is to consistently get better vision along with the ability to execute. It is not a choice, it is a responsibility. If reading is learning and learning is living, then reading is living. Books unlock the secrets of the greatest minds in all of history. They are constant, unchanging, and always there for you. They can make you laugh and make you cry. They can provide comfort, wisdom, insights and assist you in making some of the most critical decisions of your life. Is essence, they are truly your best friends.
I’ve found three effective and proven cures for RDD:
Companionship: Let’s face it; it’s lonely at the top. That’s not just a cliché. Those of you who have been in a leadership position for any length of time, you know it’s true. You are no longer one of the masses; you are the one in charge…responsible for everything! And that puts you in a very special, yet singular, class. Reading what others have gone through offers an endless supply of encouragement. Reading helps you really grasp that failure, betrayal, and uncertainty go with the territory. James Baldwin said, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” You think you’ve got it tough? Read about Abraham Lincoln, Booker T. Washington, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, or General George S. Patton, to see some of the daunting tasks and setbacks other leaders have faced and triumphed over.
Growth: Curing RDD through reading great books helps me learn how I’m supposed to do the job I’m in. Studies show that technical expertise is 15% of job success; the other 85% is how you lead, communicate and interact with others. So who teaches you that? I’ve been blessed with a few great mentors, but I’ve had my fair share of terrible ones as well. How many of you were fully trained to take on a position before you were given the helm? How many of you walked into organizations which the person you were replacing said were functioning very well, only to find out that wasn’t exactly the case? What did you do? How do you know what to do? As your company grows, you’ll have to delegate. Everyone wants good employees who can think and make decisions, as well as mistakes, on their own. Getting them on a sound reading program like yours can get them grounded and on their own path for success. Check out Mark Sanborn or Bob Burg’s titles to show your team how to excel at customer interaction so you can focus on carrying out the job at hand.
Teamwork: You don’t grow close by doing things together; you grow close by thinking together. While I’m all for team activities (I love hosting the annual Christmas party or taking the whole team out to a sports event) sometimes they come off as “mandatory fun.” Elbert Hubbard said, “No book is of much importance, the vital thing is, what do you yourself think.” I’ve been told by many previous employees that what they looked up to most as a leader is how they made them feel and what they made them think. A book can leave a lasting impression on an employee. Books are an outside expert; that means folks aren’t arguing with each others’ points of view nor will they sometimes fall into turf protection or parochialism. They teach without rank or tone of voice, they aren’t trying to take your job. Money is tight in many organizations. There are no more corporate trips to Vegas and no more outside speakers to teach, train and motivate the troops. But for a few dollars, you can introduce your entire team to the kings and queens of the earth in business and in other professions. Books provide a common reference or rallying point for your team to all discuss and point towards.
Joseph Addison said, “Books are the legacies that great genius leaves to mankind.” And all it takes is a couple of minutes a day from some of the greats to cure you of RDD forever!