Posted on September 22, 2021
Dr. Howard Hendricks, a former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, famously said, “The secret to concentration is elimination.” I have often thought of that wise advice when trying to figure out which activities are consuming my time – both in my personal and business life – at the expense of more important things I should be doing.
Mort Zifferer, a former Penn-Mar Board Chair, gets credit for helping me understand how reading is a discipline that needs to be cultivated if you want to be continually exposed to new ideas. More importantly, great books can lead to self-revelation – those A-ha! moments that are rather sobering and motivating.
I know what you’re thinking: “How can I find time to read with everything else I have on my plate?”
I used that excuse, too, until I realized that reading is a discipline not unlike working out at the gym, improving a skill, or earning a degree. The good news is we can always manage to find time for the things we want to do.
I know few people that have less time to read than I do, but by eliminating unimportant activities and drawing a line in the sand on commitments, I now have the capacity to make reading a pleasurable habit.
I have listed 15 books below that have helped me to do all that, and more, over the past few years.
One of the most significant books for my development – a bedrock of leadership – is Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
I also suggest you pick up Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud. Other than the Bible, this book has had the most impact on my life when I found myself becoming overwhelmed with commitments.
I actually had the opportunity to spend time with Henry and John Towson, authors of another phenomenal book on my list called Boundaries. The title speaks for itself.
There are thousands of great books out there that can change your life and outlook. I try to read younger authors for a different generational perspective as well titles with opinions that may not be culturally aligned with mine. It’s important to be a student before becoming a critic.
For me it has always been a challenge to put learning into practice, whether it is at Penn-Mar or in my personal life. However, it’s a welcome challenge that I accept as a life-long journey.
Try combining this new discipline with a hobby. I spend a lot of time sitting in tree stands while hunting. A good book is always within reach to help me pass the time.
Take a minute to scan the list below. Pick out a title that piques your interest and start to lean in to reading and learning. I promise, you won’t regret it!