Read. Read. Read.

Friday, May 4, 2007

By Pat Williams

From Spacecoast Business

The modern era is generally considered to have started in 1500 A.D. with the start of the printing press. From 1500 to 1830, all known knowledge doubled. From 1830 to 1930, all known knowledge doubled again. A few years ago, all known knowledge was doubling every 15 to 17 months. Today, all known knowledge is doubling every 63 days, and in the next three to five years, all known knowledge will double every day!

There are more e-mail addresses in the world today than snail mail. And a few years ago, who had ever heard of e-mail? There are more websites in the world than families. If you took all the material floating around on the Internet in the month of June alone, put that information in books averaging 250 pages, then stacked the books straight up, they would go 200 million miles beyond the sun. And the sun is 93 million miles from earth!

The world, it is a-changing. If you are not on the cutting edge of learning every day, you will be flushed out of the parade of life so quickly all you will be able to do is stand on the sidewalk and wave. How do you prevent this from happening? Very simple-make a commitment today to become a lifelong learner.

How do you become a lifelong learner? One way is to continue your formal education. Perhaps you never finished high school. Go get your GED. Maybe you never finished college or pursued your Master's degree or went for your Ph.D. Now's the time to do it. Through distance learning and the power of the Internet, you can get it done without taking up residence on a college campus.

Here's another way to be a lifelong learner. Remember, your brain is a muscle, like any other muscle in the human body. It needs to be vigorously exercised on a regular basis so it won't become a pitiful mass of flab in an incredibly brief period of time. An unexercised arm or leg muscle will atrophy, and the same goes for your brain.

The Nautilus and HammerStrength have invented equipment to attach to every muscle of the human body except your brain. They're working on it-ha-but, until they perfect it, I recommend a wonderful device that attaches perfectly to the brain and gives it an intense aerobic workout every time you make the attachment. The device is called a book, and the exercise is called reading!

Starting today, I'm challenging you to make a commitment to read one hour every day from a book. Not the same book, but from books. You can use the hour any way you want: one 60-minute session, two 30s, four 15s or 15 fours. You can read six times a day for 10 minutes or 10 for six. 30 twos or 60 one-minute sessions would be fine. I don't care how you do the hour.

Magazines, newspapers, trade journals, periodicals, devotional material, and romance novels do not count. Read them on your time. On my time, you are reading from real books. The good news? You get to pick the books. And never pick up a book you're not interested in.

If you will read one hour a day, at the end of one week you will finish a book. You say to me, big deal. I say it's a huge deal, and here's why: The average man, upon finishing high school, will not read another book the rest of his life. Eighty-five percent of all books purchased in this country are purchased by women. Despite the fact that Borders and Barnes & Nobles are popping up like McDonald's and Burger Kings, only five percent of the American public will ever set foot in a bookstore in their life. You might as well take that 95% and drop them in the jungles of Brazil and they'd be just as lost there as they would be in the lobby of a Barnes & Noble.

There will be about 170,000 new books published in the United States this year, which is over 500 per day. Only five percent of the American public will buy these books and 70% of them will never be finished. We live in a non-reading society. Our world is built around television, videos, DVDs, Internet screens and video games. All of these devices carry a mentality that says, "Entertain me! Don't make my brain work too hard." Reading's message is, "Challenge me. Push me. Make my brain work."

If you will read one hour a day, you will finish a regular sized book in one week. At the end of one year, you will have read 52 books. Keep in mind, if you read the right five books on any one subject, you will be considered a world-leading authority on that subject. If you so desire, in one year, you can become a world-leading authority on 10 different subjects.

If you read one hour a day, at the end of 10 years, you will have finished 520 books and become a world-leading authority on more than 100 different topics. Think about it. Ten years from today, you have become a world-leading authority on 100 topics. Will that make a difference in your life? A difference in your relationships? A difference in your earning capacity? Do you think you will be the most requested lunchtime companion in your community? People will be begging to take you to Olive Garden ... and pick up the tab! I'll tell you in advance what their complaint will be: I couldn't take it all in. There was so much pouring out from your side of the table I didn't know what to do. I only brought a thimble to lunch and I should have brought a washbasin. What's going on with you? And then you get to tell them.

Pat Williams is senior vice president of the NBA's Orlando Magic and the author of 42 books, including his latest, "The Warrior Within."

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