Finding Magic in a Library

Greetings.  They are almost forgotten in this era of instant information that is driven right to our desks, PDAs, or phones.  In fact, we probably walk or drive by at least one library every day without giving it a second thought.  In a time when professionals in so many fields are satisfied with brief snippets of information, and students are allowed to do most of their research on line, we seem to have less use for them.  After all, it's a Wikipedia world–not that this brilliant idea isn't a valuable tool.  And a growing number of avid readers are now downloading books, MP3 files, and a host of other information onto their Kindles or other "reading" devices.  Again, very clever and valuable tools for people on the go who don't want to be weighed down by a bunch of hard copy.  

No, the sad truth is that we all seem way too busy to pause long enough to visit a library and read, relax, explore, and learn.  To discover today's genius and the genius of every generation before us.  To walk in without a destination in mind, only to be captivated by a book, or a magazine, or a film that we never anticipated or planned to find–but one with the power to transport us to a different world filled with new ideas, inspiration, and possibilities.  Libraries are places filled with magic, and as we race to forget that essential fact we lose a unique and wonderful opportunity to unlock our individual and collective curiosity and genius.  Curiosity and genius that could help us to be more remarkable at work, in our civic lives, or at anything worth doing. 

So this weekend, or any weekend when you aren't so overscheduled and overwhelmed, find an hour or two to visit a library near you.  It doesn't have to be the Library of Congress–though just walking in there makes me feel smarter and more inspired.  Or the Great Library of Alexandria, Egypt, founded in the year 228 B.C. and a place where brilliant thinkers like Eratosthenes and Euclid use to hang out.  Or the the Yunju Temple in China that dates back to the 7th Century.  Or the British Library in London.  Or the New York Public Library. Any library will do.  Just as long as you commit to wandering the aisles, exploring the new and old book corners, and giving yourself the freedom to be taken on a journey to discover new places, perspectives, questions, and answers.

New-York-Public-Library 

We have the greatest chance to reach our potential as people, organizations, and communities when we open our eyes to rediscover the wonder of learning.  Maybe your remarkable story will be written in even more compelling ways by a visit around the corner.

Cheers and have a magical weekend!

Books Worth Reading: “Outcasts United”

Greetings.  There are plenty of business books about teamwork, leadership, and dealing with change.  And many of them are very good.  But a great way to unlock our individual and collective genius is to find ideas and insight from very different people, places, and walks of life.  And in the process to realize the unique bonds that make us all human.  That's why I love books like Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town by Warren St. John.  It's a remarkable story of a youth soccer team–made up of refugees from war-torn countries–that comes together in a small and declining American town under the leadership of an equally remarkable Jordanian woman.  But it's also a compelling story about what it means to work together, build community, understand and appreciate differences, and learn to adapt and change.  It's definitely worth your time, and might be a powerful way to engage your colleagues in thinking about the things that really matter.

Outcasts Cover 

Cheers!

You Are What You Read

Greetings.  If you're like most people in the workplace, you read a predictable set of things.  Internal reports, industry publications, and newsletters and magazines in your own area of specialization–which could be marketing and sales, HR, IT, RD, customer service, product development, finance, or operations.  All important stuff to know in order to do your job effectively and "keep up with the Jones" (i.e., the other clever folks in your industry).  You might also read the latest business or general news and follow a few appropriate blogs.  After all, it's good to be semi-well rounded.  But let's face it.  We don't have a lot of free time to read.  And most us haven't made reading a top priority.

But we should.  Because reading a wide variety of things, and casting a much wider net for ideas and inspiration, is about the most powerful competitive tool that individuals and companies can have in this or any economy.  It's your way to get a leg up on the genius from other industries and other walks of life that could make a real difference to your success. And it's actually fun to do.  In fact, it's as simple as making a stop at the local bookstore to see what's new, interesting, and thoughtful.  Or subscribing to a magazine from a totally different discipline–particularly if that discipline is based on innovation. Or reading a leading travel magazine like National Geographic Traveler or Travel and Leisure that will spark your thinking about unfamiliar places and people and what makes them remarkable.  Or magazines like Discover and Science that make the world of scientific knowledge and discovery come to life. And once you get started, you might even create a traveling library (i.e., basket) of fun and thought-provoking reading to share with colleagues across your company or organization.  And then create a reading club to discuss what you've read and its implications for your success.

Magazine 3 

You are what you read.  And if you and your organization want to aspire to be more than you are today, you will have to read more than you do today.  Reading new and different things ignites our innate sense of curiosity and imagination. And gives us the ability the look at our own company, organization, and world in new and different ways.

We win in business and in life by combining what we know best with what others know so well.  What will you, and the geniuses you work with, be reading in the days and weeks ahead?

Cheers and have a great weekend!