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Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Anyone that knows me knows that I love reading -- that I believe strongly in the value of reading.  As Coach Don Meyer would say, "Leaders are readers."  The amount of information available today is amazing.  Books and magazines -- hard copies or digital -- are so many subjects are available.  Blogs and internet sites are numerous. In the coaching profession there are so many great email newsletters. 

I personally utilize Google Alerts -- giving the specific names of coaches that I admire and want to learn from.  Each day at 10:00 am I get an email that list anything on the internet about those specific coaches.  For instance, Doc Rivers is on my list and I generally get 3 to 5 articles a day regarding Doc.

From my time working with Dale Brown at LSU, I learned how to fully use a book.  Coach Brown would be constantly marking his books with underlines and notes.  Afterwards his secretary would type the notes for his files for him to pull out utilize with his staff, team, media, fans or in his speech preparation for organizations.  This has been incredibly useful for me in allowing me to maximize my reading experience.  You can see an example of one my books above.  Coach Brown also assigned books to his staff to read and would annually give each player a team on the book to read as well, later having a conversation with them about what they learned.  I have took that on to the programs I work with having a book for our team to read in the summer (in which they must write a book report) and then have another book for our team to read during the season (in which is accompanied by worksheets).  The summer book usually steers away from basketball to broaden their horizons.   This year we gave each player a copy of "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou.  They will turn their reports in at the beginning of fall classes.  Our book for the basketball season will be "Toughness" by Jay Bilas.

I remember at Coaching U listening to Kevin Eastman talk about his discipline of rising each day at 5 AM to get his reading in.  Kevin is some who understands the growth that comes from reading:

"No matter how much we know on any subject, there’s always more to learn. Make the time to read, to study, and to think; each of these is important to your development. We all need to keep up with what’s going on in our field, too. I’ve found that news and magazine articles can be as helpful as books in this regard. The key is to keep searching so that you stay gain knowledge, improve, and stay relevant!"

The following is an excerpt from a well-written article by Kelsey Meyer for Forbes Magazine titled "Why Leaders Must Be Reader."
Reading Reminds You
I make it a habit to re-read specific books every year because I need constant reminders of the good things they’ve taught me. After my third reading of Gary Vaynerchuk’s The Thank You Economy, I was inspired to work with our team to handwrite every one of our clients a thank-you note. Whether you re-read the same book or article to remind you of concepts, or read content on time management and organization as a constant reminder to work on these things, reading is valuable because it keeps important concepts top of mind.

Reading Challenges You
A female co-worker of mine, whom I respect immensely, recently gave me a book and said, “I disagree with about 80% of this, but you should definitely read it.” I loved that she was sharing a book that challenged her opinions, yet felt it was worthwhile reading for the 20% that was valuable. Reading something you disagree with can have a big impact on your ability to think, both creatively and logically.
Reading Gives You Opportunities to Interact with Others
I have referenced articles and books I’ve read in countless conversations, not to sound intelligent or cool (some of what I read would accomplish the opposite), but to relate to those with whom I’m speaking. Here are a few ways you should be making the most of what you’re reading:
Take notes and share them with your team.
  • An investor in our company sends me, on average, five articles a day and I always put them in a file that says “To Read.” When I have 10 minutes at the end of the day, I read an article or two, knowing that I can discuss these pieces with him later. It’s a great way for us to share ideas and inspire action in each other.
Spark debates with your team.
  • I also like using article topics to spark debate amongst our team members about how we should address a subject. I’ve heard of companies creating book clubs, where employees discuss topics in books that relate to their industry during lunch once a month. Sparking debate and sharing ideas is a wonderful way to use written content as a team-bonding tool.

Back up an idea you have or a decision you want to make.
  • You can use an article/book/speech from a respected person in your field to back up a decision you want to make. I’m not saying you should make decisions based solely on what you read, but it does give you more leverage when you say, “I read in So-and-So’s book that he had success with X, and I thought that we could implement this idea in our company by doing Y.” It’s a little more likely to stick than saying, “Who knows if this has ever worked for anyone in the past? But heck, let’s be the first to see if it can work!”
If you’re one of those people who claim you don’t have time to read, then first, I question why you’re reading my measly little article. Second, I encourage you to make time. Time never “appears” for anything; you have to make it. If nothing else, learn how to multitask.

Listen to content while driving or walking to work (I suggest “This American Life” and “Intelligence Squared” on NPR – I’m obsessed with both). If you don’t have time to read an entire book, read short articles online. If you’re dying to read a book but honestly can’t find the time, then pair up with a friend and take turns reading and sharing the ideas through short descriptions, or find excerpts of the book online.

"If you are a leader, you should be striving to develop knowledge to improve yourself, your company, and the people who work for you. To do anything less is to shortchange your ability to lead." -Kelsey Meyer


1 comment:

Schruender said...

I'm in year two as a head coach and my summer reading has helped change my outlook. I will be reading during the season as well this year. Thanks for the idea on getting your team to read during the season too. I'm a high school coach, but will be purchasing books for my teams to read during and potentially before the season.