Harry S. Truman

“Not All Readers Are Leaders But All Leaders Are Readers”

— Harry S. Truman

Reading is not just for entertainment – although it is very fun – reading has important cognitive impacts as well. From improving attention spans and vocabulary to enhancing empathy, emotional intelligence and problem solving skills, it’s definitely a must have habit. In fact, all leaders across the world – in whichever field imaginable – are readers. The pioneers of change, our researches across disciplines – from psychology and economy to astronomy and chemistry, read. They read previous research, non-fiction related to their disciplines, and anything remotely relevant. Even politicians and world leaders must understand intimately the very fabric of the society to lead. Literature is the most accurate and direct reflection of the society. Thus, not all readers may read with visionary intellect, but all people with visionary intellect read.

All Readers Are Not Leaders But All Leaders Are Readers
All Readers Are Not Leaders But All Leaders Are Readers

The prime example of this would be Bill Gates. Bill Gates is one of the most powerful people in the world, economy wise. Leaving aside the fact that he is among the richest in the world, he is also a leader of people in his own right. His multimillion dollar company, Microsoft, stands as a testimony to this. As an entrepreneur, he has led millions on the path of success with his ground-breaking company. And every spring, he releases a reading list for the summer – books he recommends to young curious minds around the globe. He believes reading to be the only way to satiate the appetite for knowledge, and does it vigorously himself. Readers across the world wait every year for his reading lists.

Another very relevant example would be Oprah Winfrey. Oprah Winfrey is a pop culture icon in her own right, and is known for her dazzling wit and intellect. She has a blog website wherein she releases all kinds of book content, including monthly release lists and favoruites. Not only are her reading lists exhaustive and encompassing, but also they are great recommendations. She is a voracious reader as well. In addition, the prolific woman also writes books. In her philosophical memoir, ‘What I Know For Sure’, she talks about books and her love for them.

All Readers Are Not Leaders But All Leaders Are Readers
All Readers Are Not Leaders But All Leaders Are Readers

To talk of authors themselves, it is undeniable that they are leaders of the new world. Through their ideas, themes, characters and more, they direct the collective consciousness of the world. They filter the topics that get discussed in society, and they mould what becomes relevant and what doesn’t. They have a powerful and impactful prowess in their pen – the prowess to influence people, their thoughts, ideas, feelings and decisions. And all writers worth their salt are readers. The Indian author Sudha Murty, who is also the co-founder of India’s biggest tech giant, Infosys, is a voracious reader as well. Other writers who have influenced millions, from Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte to Ocean Vuong and Rachel Cusk are readers. The bibliography at the end of any of Amitav Ghosh’s books will attest to the extent of his love of reading.

Thus, be it any field – sciences, humanities, commerce or something entirely out of the box – reading is essential to succeed. How will you chart the future if you are unaware of the history documented by others in books? How will you become successful if you don’t learn from others what it means to succeed and how to overcome failure? The great leaders of the world, who earn their respect by virtue of their intellect, all read. Reading is great for the mind, soul and body. It keeps the mind stimulated, emotions regulated and body satiated. What else do you need? And what, then, are you waiting for?

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