By Jane Ellison
Finding the perfect work-life balance can be both painful and stressful. As a result, many entrepreneurs live their lives on autopilot, working long business hours, seeing their family and friends far and in between, with no time to themselves, never mind for leisure or reading. These same people may often wonder how some people are more successful and luckier than they are. However, if we look at the habits of the most successful people, luck isn’t the case, they are advocates of reading:
- Bill Gates reads one book per week
- Mark Zuckerberg reads one book every two weeks
- Elon Musk is an avid reader
- Warren Bigger spends roughly 80% of his time reading
- Mark Cuban reads for more than 3 hours every day
- Oprah Winfrey reads one book every month
Still not convinced? You wouldn’t be the first person to think there are better ways to spend the precious downtime away from your business than stuck in a book, but leisurely reading really does fuel entrepreneurship, and here are 9 reasons why:
1. Stress Reduction
Entrepreneurship is (really) stressful but leisurely reading can, in fact, reduce the stress and help you deal with the daily grind of running your own business without the added mental pressure. If you come home after work and lose yourself in a fictional world for a few hours every night, you’re less likely to lose your rag when Starbucks get your daily coffee order wrong.
2. Increased Empathy
Reading fiction has been shown to improve empathy in individuals, and as an entrepreneur, being empathetic helps when networking and building those all-important industry relationships. Empathy also helps you to respond calmly to irrational clients and helps you be an all-round enjoyable person to work with.
3. Improved Communication
A good vocabulary is vital when sounding professional when winning clients, marketing your services, at business luncheons and when networking. The best way to increase your vocabulary is through reading. The more you read, the more words you’re expose to, which inevitably makes their way into everyday dialect. Being articulate and well-spoken helps in any industry, as it helps you to speak about your business with self-confidence.
4. Enhanced Reading and Writing Skills
Better reading and writing skills go hand-in-hand with expanding your vocabulary. The more you read, the better you will be at proofreading and writing. Many business disasters start with someone misreading an email, phrasing something poorly, or not proofreading well enough. If you’re a seasoned reader, you’re more likely to pick up on these mistakes.
5. Improved Focus and Concentration
Every minute of every day can be chaotic for an entrepreneur as their attention is drawn in a million different directions a once, multi-tasking throughout the day. In a single 5-minute span, the average entrepreneur will divide their time between working on a task, checking their emails, talking to clients and suppliers, keeping an eye on LinkedIn and interacting with friends and family. This multitasking can cause stress levels to rise and productivity levels to drop. On the other hand, when an individual is lost in a book, all attention is focused on the story, improving focus and concentration levels.
6. Increased Perseverance
If you can sit down and read an 800-page novel from cover to cover, then you can nail that big business pitch or client presentation. Ambition is necessary when starting your own business, but patience and perseverance are vital if you want your business to be a success, as success requires months, years, of hard work.
7. Enriched Analytical Thinking
Reading helps you train your brain to spot complex patterns and teaches you to problem solve. And, no matter what industry you’re in, as an entrepreneur you will have to do some problem solving sooner or later.
8. Improved Memory
When you read a book, you have to remember a whole assortment of characters, backgrounds and history as well as subplots. Remembering creates memories, and with every new memory created you’re forging new synapses and strengthening existing ones, creating a stronger short-term memory. A good memory is particularly important for entrepreneurs as they’re swamped in to-do lists daily.
9. Greater Tranquility
Reading soothes the soul like no other activity. It forces you to take time out from your busy schedule, sit and be still. And dependent on the genre or subject of the book, it can bring immense inner peace and tranquility.
10. Teaches Good Role Model Behavior
We’ve all channeled our inner Harry Potter once or twice after a hard day of dealing with unappreciative clients and nuisance calls. Whoever you identify with, books are full of heroes who inspire us to work hard, trust ourselves, be a good role model and fight against evil when the time comes.
Jane Ellison writes for Obooko (www.obooko.com), a website that allows you to download free ebooks straight to your phone, tablet, kindle or computer. Books are in all genres including romance, thriller, mystery, horror and sci-fi.