If you could pick one superpower, which would you choose? What if you could choose a “superpower” related to your business? Or, super-delegation, meaning the ability to delegate all the tasks you hate doing? How about super-speaking, the ability to inspire your employees? Or super-marketing skills -- the ability to increase sales beyond expectations?
When a student at Nebraska State asked Bill Gates and Warren Buffet the superpower question, Gates answered, “Being able to read super fast.” And Buffett echoed him, adding, “I’ve probably wasted 10 years reading slowly.”
Wow! Two of our nation’s wealthiest men agree on one superpower: speed reading! Being able to read fast would be more powerful than super-strength, Gates and Buffett seemed to be saying. So, if two of the richest people in the world wish they could read faster, there must be a profound truth to that skill that we too must understand, in order to succeed.
And it all makes sense: Reading allows you to simulate the future and avoid the mistakes of others. It's the quickest (and easiest) way to get advice from successful business owners. And it's a great way to find personal mentors (authors). Reading, then, is the best way to receive new ideas for your business. After all, three-quarters of Americans 18 and older reported reading at least one book in 2013. But the sad implication is that many read just one book. After all, who has time to read these days?
Yet if you’re not reading daily, don’t be surprised if you fall behind, or worse, your business become irrelevant. So, while speed reading may be out of the question for you, work to make reading a habit, a daily routine. Here’s how to start.
1. Pick a small goal.
If you’re like me, you read a book in a month, or you realize that the last book you read was last year. That's okay; even billionaires at one time were reading as infrequently as you.
The easy way to establish a habit is to start small. Commit to reading two pages a day. Yes, you should choose a goal so small that it’s laughable.
In his easy read, Mini-Habits, Stephen Guise wrote that it should be laughable how easy your new daily habit will be. A small habit decreases any resistance to accomplish your goal. Your daily goal should be so simple that if you don’t do it, you won't feel right.
So, choose a laughable reading habit, like two pages. I’m reading a book a day for my 66 Day Experiment, though I don’t recommend this unless you can speed read.
2. Choose a trigger.
Habits start with a trigger. A trigger is an internal or external stimulus that starts a routine and ends with a reward. Charles DuHigg explained in The Power of Habit that your brain is built to create habits based on a cycle: trigger, routine, reward. A prime example would be brushing your teeth. The "trigger" to brush your teeth may be seeing the toothbrush after looking yourself over in the mirror. The "routine" is brushing your teeth. And the "reward" is the minty-clean feeling you subsequently enjoy.
Your reading trigger, then, may be going to bed. Another trigger may be brewing your morning coffee. Whatever it is, be sure to make it consistent.
3. Choose a reward.
If there isn’t a well-defined reward for completing a task, then it’s unlikely this habit will develop. Trick your brain into thinking that this routine (reading) is pleasurable and worth repeating, to receive that reward again.
Maybe your reward is checking off a to-do list, or drinking a nice chai tea. Whatever your reward is, it must be something you desire.
4. Red "X" your calendar.
Jerry Seinfeld famously told an aspiring comedian that his only job to become successful had been to “not break the chain.” Seinfeld attributed that success to the daily habit of writing jokes. He boiled down his habit to drawing a big red "X" on the calendar the day after he finished writing. If he wrote a joke, he continued the chain.
Schedule time on your calendar every day for your reading. While the trigger is important for initiating the reading habit, you must have time blocked off, as well. If not, reading won’t happen.
5. Continually push yourself.
Take reading recommendations from mentors or business owners. Introduce yourself to new ideas and books. In my journey toward reading a book a day for 66 days, I've seen my reading list grow beyond 66 books. And that might ultimately amount to a superpower all itself -- because you never know when a new idea will strike that will leads to a world of opportunities.