Developing a Reading Plan

I just received an email from a friend named Earl Creps

land of plenty movie

(he’s the director of the doctoral program at my alma mater, the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary).

Anyway, it’s all about how to read for personal growth. I thought it was worth sharing an excerpt here. In case it’s not obvious, he’s speaking within the context of spiritual and organizational leadership.

I think points 3 and 5 are particularly good.

Here are some keys to maximizing the effectiveness of your reading…

1. Read the classics: dial up and search for the works of
James McGregor Burns, Henri Nouwen, Warren Bennis, etc. While we can debate
“what’s a classic?,” books of this sort will get you into the game in a

2. Read the latest and skip the middle: if you’re just getting into an
organization forget what was written any more than 2 years ago [except for
leadership classics] and read from here forward. Most of the stuff in the
middle is derived from the classics anyway.…

3. Trust your life to guide your reading: When I’m feeling fresh, I
read in my specialties [self-leadership, emerging culture, power ministry].
When I’m tired, I read 90 degrees out from my specialties [, i.e.,
professional literature from other fields such as technology or psychology].
When I’m burned out, I read 180 degrees out from my academic interests
[e.g., fiction, history]. Somehow, I always find more illustrations,
principles, and other ultimately useful material in this “diversionary”
reading than just about anywhere else. I also find it hugely refreshing. A
tired mind cannot absorb much anyway.

4. Any work is a “leadership” book if it’s read by a leader: the leader
of the future must be an interesting, well-rounded person, not an
incompetent mystic or a corporate-clone technocrat. Younger adults
especially are all about who you are, not just what you can do.

5. Putting it together: Reading in your field makes you competent.
Reading out from your field [90 degrees] makes you broad-minded. Reading
opposite your field [180 degrees] makes you interesting and creative.

My major recommendation for left-brainers: develop a reading plan that
includes 0, 90, and 180-degree dimensions.

My major recommendation for right-brainers: start listening to your life
and read in response to it, dude.



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