Always Be Reading


I became a software engineer by chance. I was offered a job by a software organization during my campus interviews. I took it. And I became a software engineer.

Because I had pursued bachelors in Mechanical engineering, there was little learned about computer science in four years of my undergraduate course. My only interaction with it was during the first semester, where one of the subjects was C programming language. As far as I remember I enjoyed programming a lot. After entering the job, it took me a couple of years to figure out how I can succeed in the professional world. I realized that my magic formula to do good in professional and personal life is Always Be Reading.

In this post, I will share my thoughts on having a beginner mindset and continuously improve yourself to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Cultivation of the mind is as Necessary as food to the body.

Isn’t this already written?

Yes. Yes. I agree there are numerous books that advocate this philosophy. Surely, I am not the first or the last person to uphold this either. But, it doesn’t hurt to reinforce this topic regardless of the endless times written, told or vouched for. Let me quote the great French writer André Gide words as he puts it more succinctly than I ever could.

Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.

It is important to write or talk about timeless advice again and again. You never know who will listen this time.

The Daily Ritual

Each day brings a new opportunity to live a little better. To live a more meaningful life. To become a little wiser. Yet, most of us miss that opportunity. A day is much like a mini-life. We are born (get up in the morning), live our life (do work during the day), die (sleep at night). It is important that we make each day count by getting to bed smarter than we woke up. This essentially means we should devote part of our day to learning and improving our craft. Reading thirty minutes a day will do wonder if done consistently. In The Difference Between Amateurs and Professional post, Shane Parrish writes

Amateurs show up inconsistently. Professionals show up every day.

It is also important that we are selective about what we read during our learning time. Random browsing on the web will not do much good. It does more harm as it gives a false sense of learning. You will only accumulate few facts and tidbits. But, that’s not knowledge accumulation. To acquire knowledge, you have to read stuff that nourishes your mind in a way that you become ready to solve bigger problems and take decisions effectively. The stuff that you read should be immensely nourishing. It should improve both your craft and your quality of life.

Two such great examples who credit much of their success to reading and learning are Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. They are longtime business partners at Berkshire Hathaway.

Warren Buffett in one of the interviews told that he spends 80% of his working day reading and thinking. Warren Buffett was once asked about his key to success. He pointed to a stack of books and said

Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.

With daily learning habit, you start making connections and learn faster.

How much time do you need for reading?

For me, it is one hour a day. It all depends on your daily schedule. I try to find that one-hour first thing in the morning. I tried evenings as well, but it didn’t work for me. I find that evenings are dictated by other people’s needs whereas mornings are the time when you can decide for yourself.
Finding that one hour for yourself shouldn’t be difficult. All you have to do is to make few adjustments, like avoiding Facebook, News, TV, Netflix, or your favorite series. If you commute daily, you can read during the time, unless you are the driver.

Parting Thoughts: Always Be Reading

Austin Kleon in Steal Like An Artist book puts it as follows

Always be reading. Go to the Library. There’s magic in being surrounded by books. Get lost in the stacks. Read bibliographies. It’s not the book you start with, it’s the book that book leads you to.

Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away. Nothing is more important than an unread library.

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