My father hungered for knowledge and constantly sought after truth. I suppose it’s from his example that I learned to love books because I certainly didn’t come by it naturally. No, as a boy you’d find me climbing trees, scaling walls, and leaping over everything I could (this sometimes ended in disaster or humor). You most certainly wouldn’t have found me sitting quietly reading a book.
With that background, picture me trying to sit still while my Dad read the Power of Positive Thinking or some other insightful composition. It was a struggle, to say the least, and much to his chagrin, I ended up in a remedial reading class in 7th grade, which fortunately became a turning point for two reasons. First, it forced me to see where I really was vs. where I thought I was (self-deception). Second, it introduced me to one of my first coaches in life outside of my family, Jack Harris. Mr. Harris, who taught that remedial reading course, took me aside one day and said, “Richard, you don’t belong here, you have so much more potential!” I remember looking into his sincere eyes and believing him. From that moment on, I began to grasp what my father felt about books.
Not long after this, my Dad, wisely leveraged my love of sports and convinced me to read a book by Vince Lombardi, the famous Green Bay Packer football coach. Something happened while I read that powerful illustration of a man who coached with boldness and conviction. I recognized that great achievement was demanding and that true leadership and high standards made a difference. In the case of taking over the losing Green Bay Packer team, Lombardi set the tone right away, emphatically declaring to his new team that he’d never been associated with losers and he didn’t intend to start now. He turned that program into a dynasty. I’d like to say I immediately grabbed the habit of reading after finishing that book but I didn’t. It took time and effort, but that same desire to learn, grow and progress that my father had, burns inside of me today. In fact, I can’t seem to read enough, knowing that I can glean wisdom and ideas from the greatest minds throughout history through books and instructional audios. Allowing them to mentor you, sets high achievers apart from the rest and it definitely correlates to winning not just financially but in all areas of life.
Let me illustrate with a personal example from High School. As I started competing seriously in track and struggled to win a big event, my Dad decided to hand me, you guessed it, another book. This book was on the practical application of visualization in sports and how to mentally create and recreate your victory over and over again. I remember putting on music every night and picturing every aspect of my next 800-meter run. I can still remember lining up in Tad Gormley Olympic Trial Stadium in New Orleans Louisiana and thinking as I looked at the other runners, “good luck fighting for second because I am finishing first.” It wasn’t cocky or arrogant, it was conviction. I had seen it! This concept gave me one of my first victories on a bigger stage because of the knowledge I gained from a book.
The only problem was, I never thought to apply this same principle to my finances until much later in life. Now I recommend if you don’t read, start and if you do read commit to reading more because I can guarantee its costing you money if you don’t. So here are two tips you’ll need in order to make reading an asset in your portfolio:
- Don’t try to get the habit of reading simply by telling yourself it’s important. Set aside a time, a location and the book and do it daily even if it’s only for 5 minutes at first. Make it automatic so it can become a true habit. Leaving it up to “will-power” at random intervals won’t work!
- Use the visualization technique I just described to see yourself as a reader.
Apply these two tips and you are on your way to a healthier mind and stronger finances!