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What to Read for Inspiration (Everything)

Here's a million dollars worth of advice: Read. Read anything and everything.
Picture of Karl Palachuk

Karl W. Palachuk
June 15, 2003


Here’s a million dollars worth of advice:  Read.  Read anything and everything.  Read morning, noon, and night.  Reading and one other element—focus—will bring you success. 

Many people wonder, “What should I read to help me be successful?”  My answer is “everything.”

In a great little pamphlet on censorship entitled Aeropogitica, John Milton says that “A wise man will make better use of an idle pamphlet than a fool will do of sacred Scripture.”  In other words, if you (the reader) put your skill and reasoning into your reading, then you will find value in anything you read.

One of the interesting things about success and motivation is that, once you put your mind to something, you begin to see that thing more clearly.  Once you are determined to find opportunities in a certain area, you begin to see those opportunities all the time.  It’s like when you buy a new car and suddenly begin to notice that kind of car all over the place.  I never realized how many Accords there were until I started driving one.  I never realized how many sales opportunities there were until I started looking for them.

This is known as focusing on opportunity.  Once you begin to focus on opportunity, you will find it everywhere.  The same is true for focusing on knowledge.  Once you go through the process of setting goals and focusing your life on the personal and professional things that matter, you will find useful tips and tricks in everything you read! 

A wise man will make better use of an idle pamphlet

than a fool will do of sacred Scripture.

— John Milton

When I get ready to do something, I’ll pick up a book and educate myself.  Very often I find a book that motivates me in other areas of my life.  For example, I’ve read books on managing rental property and buying commercial real estate that are very motivating generally.  Believe it or not, even a technical exam preparation book can be motivating.  When the author provides information and a can-do attitude, the reader finds himself saying “Yeah, I can do this.  It’s only a test.”

Because of my areas of interest, I will see different information in a magazine than you will.  Once you have areas of focus, you will find gems of information everywhere you look.  For example:

            Fiction (historical or not) usually has a lot of good background information on whatever topic or setting makes the story go.

            Biographies are usually quite inspiring because the process of researching them usually causes the author to fall in love with the subject.  And most biographies are about someone who contributed something to the world.

            Magazines are full of every kind of useful information.  And sometimes they’re not on the topic you suspect.  Magazines need to keep pumping out information every month, so there’s always some new perspective.

            Trade Books (that is, the technical side of your business) have useful information about your specific business.  But most also have a theoretical or philosophical approach, or a section on “best practices.”

            Hobby Books are great for the relaxation side of the equation.  But they also have lessons on the basics of success:  You can do this.  Focus.  Take your time.  Practice.  You’ll get better with experience.  Etc.

            Self-Help books are obviously useful.  Be sure to be open to books that don’t seem appealing at first.  Remember, the important part of growth is to grow in the areas where you feel the least comfortable.

            How-To Guides are a category that aren’t really trade books and aren’t really hobby books.  You want to come up to speed on plumbing, creating a corporation, or designing a deck?  There’s a book for it!  Because these books are written by people who love what they do, they are filled with a positive attitude and a sense that you’re going to enjoy doing your new skill.

The bottom line is obvious:  Read.  Everything.

 Start today.  There’s no reason not to.

Reading Improves Your

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