Keep on reading to expand your mind

Imagine how your perspective would change if life coach Deepak Chopra was your personal mentor. Imagine how your finances would improve if Warren Buffett spent a few days with you and shared his experiences, and more importantly, his tips.

Most of us have role models in different fields, someone to look up to who inspires us and shapes the way we think. I think most also recognise the importance of role models in our lives.

When I was a little girl, my parents did not let me watch a lot of television. They encouraged me to focus on books and reading instead. With time, I began to favour books over movies and I saw how magical and transformative they could be, how I could be somewhere else despite physically being in Abu Dhabi and how an author, whether dead or alive, was able to change the way I thought forever. It was because of writers such as Roald Dahl that I wanted to become a writer, and spread the magic the way he did to his readers.

As I grew up and became more determined to be a writer, I had many questions in my mind: what did I want to do exactly? Where should I start? What is the best way? And what should I do if things did not turn out exactly as I had anticipated?

My parents are the smartest people I know, but even they told me that no one person could answer all my questions, that I would have to consult different people to find the solutions I was looking for.

And that is how I got to meet so many amazing mentors along the way, who shared their secrets and helped me in college, in life and in my career.

When it comes to marketing, I learnt from the American authors Chris Brogan and Seth Godin. Deepak Chopra calmed my mind and offered me direction. While I have not met my mentors in person, I’ve read their works and feel like I already know them.

I owe a lot of success in my career to reading. If I want to get better at something I read. When I wanted to become a better writer, I read columns written by those I admire.

I manage a marketing consultancy and in an ever-changing marketing world. I have to read, a lot. If I do not, I will fall behind.

So how does reading enhance your career or help to manage your business?

For starters, it improves concentration. Avid readers simply cannot put a book down for long. This helps you develop a focus you can apply at work.

It can also help you develop great writing and speaking skills. Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela both became renowned speakers by studying the great minds that came before them.

Reading also helps with your memory. The more you read, the easier it is to retain information.

Last but not least, it helps to keep your mind fresh and creative, improving your confidence because of the information you possess. Read more and you will be more at ease at networking events as you have something to talk about.

However, you do not need to read 100 books by the end of the year to change your life. Instead, start by dedicating 10 minutes a day to reading. Begin with your area of work looking at news clippings, websites and messages from chief executives. Read everything about your company and what it does. Getting to know exactly what’s going on at work is a great way to improve your career. Follow your company’s social media accounts. That way when your boss asks about your opinion, you will appear well informed.

Next, read about your industry and the latest news in its field. You could choose to read from online websites or print material. You could then read about fields close to your industry or those that influence it.

While being an avid reader does not ensure success, successful people are avid readers. Bill Gates reads a book every week. Hundreds of years ago, Arab scholars travelled the world seeking knowledge, leaving behind families and loved ones. We are so lucky to be living in an age where information is only a click away; lucky to have a government that initiated initiatives such as UAE Reads and dedicated libraries and eased the process of publishing for us to learn and expand our horizon. Take advantage of that.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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