During a time when I was wondering if I’d ever figure out what to do with my life, it was a book that lit the way. One evening years ago, I read a short newspaper article about two women who had started their own business using their natural talents and imagination to create a successful enterprise.

The next day, I went to the bookstore and found their only copy of Supergirls: The Autobiography of an Outrageous Business by Claudia Jessup and Genie Chipps. Their story became my handbook.

Although I ultimately started a very different business from the one they’d created, I gleaned so many lessons from their story.

They started on a shoestring. So did I.

They got lots of free publicity. Me too.

They evolved into a very different business over time. That’s what happened to me.

I still wonder if I would have found my entrepreneurial spirit without that book to point me in the right direction.

What I know for sure is that books have made a continuous contribution to my growth and development as a person and as an entrepreneur.

Of course, I am not alone in discovering the impact of reading on the Joyfully Jobless life.

Tim Sanders is a consultant and former Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo’s in-house think tank. In his book Love is the Killer App, he speaks passionately about the importance of books. Here’s what he has to say:

Here’s another 80/20 rule: Spend 80 percent of your time on books and 20 percent on articles and newspapers. And by books, I don’t mean just any book. I mean hardcovers. A paperback is made to be read. A hardcover is made to be studied. There’s a huge difference.

True, hardcovers are more expensive. But I’m talking about your career. If you can afford to party, or to buy new techno-gadgets, or to eat in fancy restaurants, you can afford a few hardcover books. The books you read today will fuel your earning power tomorrow.

Simply put, hardcover books are the bomb. They are fun to hold. They become personal the first time you mark them up, the first time you bend back the binding. There’s something exciting about writing down the ideas that interest you. Soon your book becomes more than just pages between covers. It becomes your ticket to success.

The ability to transfer knowledge is a huge advantage for anyone struggling to succeed in the new economy. It’s an easy skill to learn, it’s simple to facilitate, and there are more good books than you will ever be able to use, which means that the resources are unlimited. In fact, it’s so easy that there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start now.

Buy a book. Carry it with you. Its power is so great that you will feel as though you were carrying plutonium in a briefcase.

Jim Rohn was a popular speaker who frequently encouraged his audiences to take up reading if they want to succeed. “Miss a meal, if you must,” Rohn said, “but don’t miss a book.”

Rohn’s fans are also familiar with Mr. Shoaff, the man who mentored Rohn and taught him the valuable lessons that became the basis of Rohn’s philosophy. Mr. Shoaff instilled in the young Rohn a love of reading and eloquently inspired him to spend time with books.

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it put any better than this: “Mr. Shoaff  taught me that life puts some of the more valuable things on the high shelf so that you can’t get to them until you qualify.

“If you want the things on the high shelf, you must stand on the books you read. With every book you read, you get to stand a little higher.”


3 Responses to “Books Are The Bomb”

  1. Jerry Gillies

    A great post. But I would add that it is also important to balance reading by including fiction, both modern and classic. Novelists are among our most important philosophers and psychologists in understanding the human mind and spirit, and are a window into the souls of our fellow human beings. I have consistently noticed something missing in the consciousness of people who don’t read fiction along with their business and self-help, biography, and academic books.

  2. Anthony St. Clair

    Good point about working in fiction. I can always tell when I’m fiction-deprived. No matter how many essays, articles or non-fiction books I’m powering through, there’s always got to be a good novel there too.

  3. Vicki Field

    Books can serve as both anchors and telescopes in navigating transition. “When the Heart Waits” by Sue Monk Kidd was my anchor when I was laid off years ago. Revisiting Barbara Sher’s “Wishcraft” reopened my vision, while Barbara’s book (and workshop in Maine back in 2004) expanded my scope and pointed the way forward!

    Now that I’m coaching midlife women through the “passage points” we face, I am thrilled to pass these resources on. And thanks, Barbara, for your steady stream of new resources and authors that continues to spark possibilities.

    Sparking possibilities,
    Vicki Field

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