Sometimes when I stop and reflect on what I have done in life, I am sometimes slightly surprised. How did a young boy who grew up wanting to be a pro surfer end up in business? How have we started so many businesses and diversified our company so far?

My mother always encouraged my sister and I to read, much to my annoyance. We lived by the beach so there was always a lot more fun to be had than reading books. In fact I have a photo at home of me sitting on the couch reading Lassie, complete with a scowl on my face because there were other things I’d rather be doing. My sister took the photo because she could see how cranky I was to be reading instead of skateboarding or surfing.

As I became a young man and felt the call to business, it’s reading that really opened up my life to endless possibilities. As I read books on people way smarter than me, I not only learnt a lot, but I also learned that I could dream and think way bigger than I currently was.

I distinctly remember being in Fiji in 2000 while the Sydney Olympics were on and I decided to finish reading Business @ The Speed Of Thought by Bill Gates. His book literally blew my mind as to how visionaries operate and just how far they are ahead of the norm.

In this particular book Bill Gates stated that people would have Microsoft applications in their phones in the future. He rattled off the different things you’d be able to do on a phone. Sitting there I just laughed, thinking this is impossible. My tiny Nokia could do no more than answer a call and send a text. You’d need something as big as a laptop at least to be able to have more features in a phone.

You see, when you break it down, we actually lead quite small lives as humans. I remember being on a plane not too long ago, and as the plane was taking off, I looked out the window and I could see where we lived. Then I could see our office, I could see the children’s school, and finally I could see our church. At that very moment I became aware of just how small my world in fact was.

While I felt like a big thinker, geographically there was literally a 6 mile radius around my life. My entire world was only 6 miles wide! But it would be the same for Bill Gates. He lives in Seattle, his office is in Seattle (probably no more than 10 miles from his home), and so what makes him different is the breadth of his mind.

You see, reading can take you anywhere. When you read the entire world is before you. The brightest minds, the smartest people. People who have achieved way more than you and I have.

If you’re not a leader then it’s totally up to you whether or not you read. But if you have people in your world that you’re responsible for overseeing, then as a leader, you need to be a reader.

Reading keeps you one step ahead, as you’re learning from amazing minds, and you’re also able to hone in on the subject of your choice. The world’s best minds are out there, and they’re ready to infiltrate yours. And while buying books can get expensive, the government is here to help. Just pop to your local library and you don’t even need to buy a copy. In fact I remember wanting to read the book on Michael Dell of Dell Computers, so to save myself the cost, I went to my local library. They didn’t have a copy but they ordered one and I had it within about 5 days.

We need to be big thinkers and world-changers. The world needs your talents. Why not develop them by learning how others have done what you are setting out to do.

 

Matt Danswan is the CEO of Initiate Media, publishers of My Christian Daily. He also blogs at www.mattdanswan.com.