When I went off to college, I took a stack of books. I would have tons of extra time to sit under a tree and read books while breezing through my engineering classes, right? Ha! At the end of the freshman year, I brought them all home, without reading a single page. Nice try.
However, a funny concept started to form in my mind during senior year, forever changing my attitude toward reading.
I realized there will be no classes when I graduate. There will be no more lectures, assignments, projects, labs, and no more exams. Aside from the typical excitement which comes from this thought, I became a little sad.
Then, it hit me fully.
Once I graduate, I will be the only one responsible for continuing my education.
Now, if I don’t take the initiative to read, I won’t learn anything new. If I don’t discipline myself to take further training, my skills won’t improve. My career — and especially my personal growth — are in my hands alone.
Next, an assignment required me to do a book report. The book told the story of impoverish families struggling to survive in the projects of Chicago. It was interesting, and I was grateful the assignment whetted my intellectual appetite.
Then I read the autobiography of Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. It was intriguing.
I remember thinking, “There might be some good stuff in books after all!”
I started reading more, finishing 7 books in 10 months.
Finally, a famous quote solidified the concept forming in my mind:
— Charlie “Tremendous” Jones
I thought, “Wait — I don’t want to be the same person I am now five years from now! I like myself and all, but if I want to be a better person later, then I need to read good books and meet good people.”
I never want to stop learning. I want to change and grow and gain wisdom. And I now realize books are one of the keys to gaining wisdom.
After that, I couldn’t stop reading. I made it a goal to read 5 books every month — a goal I keep to this day!
Notice I didn’t just start reading because people told me I should. I defined what I really wanted (wisdom) and found the path to it (books). Thus, I found internal motivation to reach my own goal, and the path to get there became appealing.
I could beg you to read books, and tell how amazing they are and what they can do for you. But external motivators don’t work, and you won’t take me up on the advice. Just like I didn’t go out of my way because I couldn’t see how much it would help me achieve my most important goals in life.
I’m not the same person I was five years ago, and I’m thrilled to say it.
You have goals and dreams. What are they? What do you need to do to get there from here?
Are books on the path to your goals? If so, you now have internal motivation to read!
Extra Credit: Listen to Andy Andrews on the Power of Books