Tuesday, April 20, 2010

NUS: I will remember(XI) the return to book reading..

Thanks to Mom - I was a voracious reader when I was young. This was because Mom loved reading and the easiest way to shut me up when I was a kid was to thrust a book into my lap. So, I began with books like Robin Hood, Black Beauty when I was a kid and progressed to finish more than 400/500 Enid Blyton books - loved series like the Five find-outers, the famous five and the like. This progressed to novels with an addiction to a not-so-popular author called 'Colin Forbes'. This was in my 9th standard/grade/Sec 3 and post this, I just stopped!

The only reading came in the form of comics like Tintin, Asterix, Archie's etc and the trend continued with me being 'too busy' to read in university in my 1st year and a half. A lot changed post that though and here's how..

1)Audio books: My mentor changed everything when he mentioned he shared his audio book hearing experiences. He said he didn't enjoy reading as much as he did listening and I thought it would be great to give it a try. With a lot of push from him and a gift of a nice collection of audio books, I began hearing my 1st book - The Virtues of War; A novel of Alexander the Great. And boy, was I hooked.. I couldn't stop requesting for more books and recommendations from him and soon I was hearing these books whenever I found time.

I've found that I'm traveling on buses atleast 30 minutes during a normal day here in NUS. All this time is potential reading time and here I was, beginning to use this time. A big learning here is the Peter Drucker insight on Managing Oneself - there are readers and listeners and you can only be of one of them. While some are comfortable reading long emails, others are better with phone calls - it’s the same with books. Some are comfortable reading, others are comfortable listening. I, for example, can never imagine getting through an e-book. A hard cover is just about bearable by now. But, I can coast through an audio.. This was probably among the better insights I had..

Learning: I was most inspired by the line 'The difference between you now and 10 years from now are the books you read and the people you meet'

2)7 Habits of Highly Effective People: This book has really changed my life. I know there are a lot of people out there against these kind of 'self help' books. But, I've loved every book I've read - often getting so many take-aways that I would never have gotten otherwise. This book touched me.. It was a heavy book to get through - took me 1 month. The only other book that took me so long was 'A Splendid exchange' which atleast was a 17 hour audio. This one was much shorter, but extremely deep.

So, what is it about the 7 Habits that is so special? It deals with growth, and how it happens at the most basic level. The first part of the book is just about moving from dependence or the baby stage to independence, the teenage state. The 1st 3 habits are

'Be Proactive' : which can be summarized in 'Make and keep commitments' . This has been among the most difficult things to do as I was serial breaker of promises. Gradually, I’m getting better at this..

'Begin with the end in mind': or Visualize - which has not been too bad.

'Put first things first': or work according to priorities which I have always needed LOTS of improvement in. This book called for getting organized and over the past few months, this has begun to happen..

Learning: The 7 Habits book has been a bit of a bible. I can not be done reading it for a very long time. It's philosophy revolves around the fact that we are always taught to be better personalities i.e. be better presenters, public speakers etc, but long term success can only come if we are strong characters i.e. trustworthy, honest and live life along with the basic principles

3)The journey: There have been so many other books that have captured my imagination. Right up the list is 'A splendid exchange - a story of how trade changed the world' - that made me wish I had learnt history this way. 'How to win friends and influence people' and 'How to stop worrying and start living' by Dale Carnegie were also splendid. So were books like 'Outliers' and 'The Alchemist'..

However, the book that next made a huge impact was 'You don't have to be born brilliant - how to design a wonderful life' that is a book written by a leading Australian real estate tycoon who talks about how he designed a great life for himself by being proactive and being EXTREMELY organized. I found his example inspiring..

A lot of things begin to link in gradually. As I've accepted the 7 Habits philosophy, I do see the common trends mentioned in multiple books. Suddenly, more of the stuff that I hear around me is beginning to make sense. 'Think and Grow Rich' which I'm starting on today is just an extension of the habit of 'Beginning with the end in mind', which says - 'See yourself going rich first, think about and then it will happen'.

Learning: Of all the gifts I have received over the past many years, the gift of audio books is likely to be the most impactful yet..

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I met an entrepreneur in January back home who said he and his wife made sure they read 30 minutes a day and saw 1 movie a week. I was very inspired by the example. Since then, I've made it a point to read 30 mins a day between Monday - Friday.. And I managed this rather unlikely discipline thanks to a system coming up in the next post - the R15..
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11 days to go..

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