Read Something Else

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Many years ago, a business mentor of mine told me that I should “read something else.” I didn’t know what he meant so I asked for more. He said I should go find some biographies, some history books, etc, and read those before I go to bed. He said it would not only expand my mind and show me that my problems weren’t that bad. He also told me it would increase my vocabulary. Well everyone knows that geeks are smart, so I didn’t think about it too much. I just thought this was an old guy telling me how things used to work back in the day. He didn’t have the Discovery Channel growing up… what did he know?

As usual, I find that I was wrong again. I’m telling you now, read something else. Let me tell you why:

Read something else: It helps you focus

When’s the last time you read a whole O’Reilly book? Yah… me either. Even when you find that you have a few more hours left in the day, it’s time to put it down. You can only focus on your nerd-career and your skills for so long. Then, you start to experience that thing that we hate to admit: Burn-out. Read something else, it will help you re-focus on your skills next time.

Read something else: It will inspire you

Sometimes I will drive through the well-to-do portions of my city to just look at the houses. This always reinvigorates me. It reminds me what my goals are. I’d love to live in a place like that. And in order to do that, I need to re-concentrate on being successful. Less video games and more enhancing my skills, experience and career. The same thing happens with reading. I once read Losing My Virginity and I couldn’t believe all the things that Richard Branson had done. It reminded me that I could keep droning on with what I’m doing, or I could do great things, like him. I needed to be reminded to take chances. I got inspired.

Read something else: It will increase your vocabulary

I recently helped a friend proof-read a response in an email. This email was going to someone who had a background in surgery. Because of their extensive experience (both medicine/reading and life), they had a pretty extensive vocabulary. My friend commented that the tones of that email were almost like a song. It just read like a book. I see the same thing in various different books I’ve read lately. It’s so easy for us to let our vocabulary degenerate with the use of IM and TXT, (see!!!), but that’s not acceptable. Read something else, and enjoy the vocabulary. (It’s not a bad thing to have to go to dictionary.com and look up some words you don’t know either…)

Read something else: What should I do?

Sometimes when people say read something else, we think that must mean another boring scientific book. Don’t get me wrong, I love my boring computer programming manuals, but I certainly don’t want to spend time reading about… I don’t know… wind energy. So what should you try out?

  • Sales books: Especially if you’re a freelancer, try reading some sales books. You’ll learn how people sell to you, and how to sell yourself.

  • Biographies: They don’t have to be historical biographies like George Washington (although, it is pretty interesting to have found out that he never said the “can’t tell a lie” phrase… it was actually a preacher using him as an example during a sermon), but it can be real time people too. Try the Steve Jobs Biography for example. Like I said, I enjoyed the Richard Branson biography as well.

  • Read fiction: WHAT?! Sometimes the goal is to just to relax. If so, read a fiction book. It’s just like TV, except that you’ll be expanding your vocabulary and running into concepts that are a bit more in-depth than those on TV written for a fourth grader.

I know it’s tough. It’s easier to just sit down and read the next news article, to read tips on how to be better with the new HTML5 technologies, and to watch TV. However, I really suggest you try this out. I’ve been doing it and it’s made tremendous improvements for me. Read something else.

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