Read, not to contradict or confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.—Francis Bacon
Question: When you choose a book, do you have a plan for how you are going to read the book?
Are you like most people who love to read but cannot find the time to read? You may have a shelf full of books in your house or office that have never been touched. Why? Well, the truth of the matter is, reading is work. It takes focus to start a book and to finish it.
Nowadays, with social media and 24/7 news, Netflix, and the list goes on and on…we do not have to look hard to find a reason to not read. This blog post aims to give you a fresh approach or strategy to reading.
Leaders Are Readers
Before you read on, please understand that I am not an educator in the K-12 grades or at the collegiate level. However, I am an educator in the religious arena, and I share a goal with all teachers and school leaders everywhere: we want to help our students learn.
Learning is a fun thing to do. So let’s discover together how we can be better readers, because the old adage is true, “readers are leaders and leaders are readers.” I truly believe this statement, because a leader has to have an intense desire to develop and maintain the intelligence needed to lead.  If you are reading this blog, I guarantee that you are leader material!
When I was in seminary, I discovered that in order to get all my reading accomplished, I needed a plan. Each week, normally on Monday afternoon, I would look at all my assigned reading for the week and make schedule for myself. This schedule helped me to get the reading done in order to stay on track so that I could get the assignment completed.
Thoughts on Reading
Before I talk more about my reading schedule idea, here are some thoughts on reading. When thinking about reading as a leader, how we read is just as important as what we read.
As leaders, we should read for understanding and we should do it critically. A book should be read as a silent intensive conversation between the author and the reader. In addition, do not be afraid to mark your book up. This will help with your retention of the content and your thinking.
When you consider a book to read, here are some great questions to ask about the book.
- What kind of book is it? (fiction or non fiction)
- How dense is the content? (This determines how long it will take you to read it.)
- What do you need to know about the author? (What is their background?)
- What is the purpose and subject matter of the book?
- How did this book end up on your reading list?
A Reading Schedule
To construct your reading schedule, you can be as basic or as complicated as you like. What I have found is that a simple Excel spreadsheet will do the job nicely.
First, I put the name of the book, then I put the reading discipline (leadership, personal growth, etc.) Next, I put the total number of pages. I then take the total number of pages and divide them by the total number of reading slots I have allotted for the book. Reading slots are what I call “small wins.”
Small wins are small visible goals that people can achieve. They give us the momentum we need to achieve larger goals. In reading a book, small completed reading slots add up to completed books. Said another way, when we have small targets they lead to small victories, and small victories can often times trigger positive behaviors.
Back to the reading schedule: the reading slots can contain as many pages as you think you will read and understand in one sitting. My reading slots are normally around 12 to 25 pages depending on the book’s complexity, font size, etc. After you have created your reading slots, make sure you’ve included all the pages of the book and then get to reading.
The reading slots can represent specific amounts of time, but for me they represent any “moments” that I sit down to read or “moments” when I am in a waiting room and rather than turn to my phone, I read. I find that by taking small bites whenever the opportunity arises, it allows me to accomplish more.
What I like to do is print out my reading schedule for each book, trim it, and tape it to the inside of the cover. The reason I do this is so that I can mark off my reading slot once it is complete. This is a mental reminder for myself, and it helps me to stay on track. This is the way I let my small wins drive my reading plan forward.
If you’re comfortable reading several books at a time, the taped-in schedule lets you keep track of your status with each book. Just check or strike-through a slot when you complete it.
I hope this post will help you to finish whatever book you decide to read next. Thank you for reading! And thanks to Cathy Gassenheimer for asking me to write this post…it has been a lot of fun.
Successful People Read
I’d like to close with a story…
In the 1980s, George Gallup Jr. and Alec Gallup set out to discover what makes some people more successful than others. Using the polling techniques first developed by their famous father, the brothers queried successful people and wrote a book titled The Great American Success Story.
One of their important findings: Successful people are avid readers.
In an interview, George Gallup Jr. speculated that reading is essential to success because it “makes a person ready to converse. It seems to be a key to feeling confident. These people (who read) have a broad knowledge and feel they can shift over to another field or chain of thought.… I think reading would be a very big boost to self-esteem because then you have more information with which to make evaluations and decisions.”
►  Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard – Chip Heath and Dan Heath
►  The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters – Dr. Albert Mohler
►  The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – Charles Duhigg
Draper Rogers became Pastor of Young Families at Gardendale First Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 2014, after a first career in finance and insurance. He is a graduate of Auburn University at Montgomery. Draper and his wife Tinker, assistant principal at Gardendale Elementary School, have two children.