Home > Ideas, Leadership > Embrace knowledge!

Embrace knowledge!

India celebrates Dussera / Vijaya Dashami today – the tenor, focus and flavor of the festival are region specific. In South India the festival is observed for different reasons in different states. In Tamilnadu it is the celebration of woman-power (Shakthi) and Aayudha Pooja (seeking blessings for one’s work-tools / equipment), move to Karnataka and its the celebration of the victory of Good (symbolized by Lord Ram) over Evil (embodied by Ravan) and for Keralites it’s Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge) Pooja, the time for introducing children into the world of knowledge (children receive their first lesson in reading and writing from a senior member of the family). I have had the honour of initiating couple of tyros in the family.

So this is the ideal day to discuss the relevance and importance of learning (through reading, in particular –  you will agree that learning can happen in other ways too) in Management / Sales.

I ask these questions without fail at every workshop / class:

–          What books do you read?

–          How many books have you read in the last 1 year or maybe 2 years?

And the new age variant:

–          Which are the websites you frequent on the Web?

I specify that these shouldn’t be books/websites prescribed in their curriculum, if they are students, and the list should not include newspapers or magazines usually found on newsstands. It goes without saying that the time spent in the mailbox or on Social Media does not count as reading, unless you follow some of the links posted by friends to websites that provide useful reading material.

Be it a room full of students or business executives less than 20% of the audience would raise their hand (a few hesitant/half-raised ones aren’t unusual) and the number of books read per year would not exceed 3. For trainers the number is slightly better – around 50% read and the number of books would be 4-5. I rarely meet a person in a training room who reads regularly and voraciously. It is evident that the habit of reading is on the wane.

Just for the record I have read 21 books in the last year and I can name all of them, if you insist! They include works of fiction and books on the subjects involved in my work. I am sure some of you have read more and it would be useful if you can share the titles of the good ones in the Comments section.

Let me begin by offering these thoughts:

-No matter how good you are, there is always room for improvement

-What you have learned in the past is outdated and needs refreshing

-The world thinks, lives and works differently today and you probably aren’t aware

As a businessman or practicing manager you need to be in sync with the latest trends and advancements in the domain you are in – reading provides you insights into such events / changes.  Even if you are not reading about the latest there are possibilities of discovering new ideas. As a business owner you can get ideas to help your manage your business better and provide you with tips to grow it further. A professional or a manager can sharpen many work-related skills by reading the right books.

Some benefits of reading:

– New vistas are opened for exploration

– It prompts thinking in new ways

– Offers outlooks and ideas that differ from yours

– You become interesting company for others

– Your attitude changes – you are receptive to ideas

– You gain new insights and new skills

– Your mind is kept fresh and active

I am sure you can add to the list.

It’s sad that many of us deprive ourselves off this opportunity and lament later on.

Why take the risk? On this Vijaya Dashami day, even if you are a non-believer like me, take the lead; pick up a good book and embark on a new journey of discovery.

The world of letters is waiting with “arms wide open” – doesn’t an open book look that way? Surrender to it’s warm embrace.

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  1. October 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    “A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.”

    ~Edward P. Morgan

    An outstanding post. Wish a Happy Vijaya Dashami to you and all of your readers.

  2. JayadevM
    October 24, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Hi Umashankar,

    Lovely quote … it adds juice to my article.

    Thank you for the kind words. Happy Vijaya Dashami to you too.

    P.S – Your keen eyes helped rectify the glitches in the text. All the rearranging and inclusion of the pictures had scattered the words in random directions. Now they are back in order. 🙂

  3. Preethi Gopalakrishnan
    October 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Too true Jayadev. Well put (and in your usual gentle manner!). Often the new generation is disdainful of language and what you can gain from reading: “who needs grammar anyway” attitude. They miss out on all the beauty of expression, or even the hammer punch force of a great idea or ideal. I hope folks out there reading this post are inspired this Vijayadashami to turn a new leaf?

    • JayadevM
      October 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      Hi Preethi,

      Great to see your comment here.

      I would love to hear a few people say, let it be many months or years from today, that this was the beginning or the turning point.

      You are right about the kids – have seen so many in the sessions I conduct. Its such a sad state of affairs.

      Thanks a ton for the support and appreciation.


  4. Venu Mohan Madhavan
    October 25, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Well said….regards,

    • JayadevM
      October 25, 2012 at 7:17 pm

      Thank you, Venu.

  5. Kailash
    October 26, 2012 at 6:51 am

    What a piece of article J, Really loved it. One of the best (In my Opinion),

    If you ask me what i read the most and frequently? i would say i read Mr. J’s blog. Honestly J in last one year in books i haven’t read much. Last book i read completely was The Alchemist which i finished in around 10 days. And the latest one i’m reading is Game of Spies, and i m reading it since last 2/3 months :). Yeah it’s not gripping but frankly i can’t stay with book in my hand at home as my youngest kido (18 months) will not allow me to do so. I have 5 books untouched in my book rack.

    But yes this post of yours have pumped me up and i’ll start reading again will try not to drop the tempo. This will also help my elder kido (6 years) to create interest in the reading.

    Thanks J.

    • JayadevM
      November 5, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      Thank you, Kailash.

      The answer to your concern is simple. Get some books your kid can use too. So while you are reading your book she can get involved with hers. But first you have to spend time with her and show her how the books can be used – participate in that process. Read to her, get her to draw and paint.

      And you can read when she goes to bed.

  6. October 26, 2012 at 11:24 am

    J it is not only the present generation;a lot of people from our generation too has lost their taste in books…everyone wants to google to find out answers..noone wants to go through books.It is often attributed to lack of time due to work or other such requirements.People see it as a waste of time.The result is that their language and way of expessing themselves falter…they use grammar in the wrong places and most often use words that are popular with the younger generation regardless of whether it is right or wrong…i often hear the words “Fuck off” and Oh Shit” being used even by the smallest of kids…i am a total bookworm..i have read more than 100 books the past one year…i have a huge collection of them and i love to read whenever i get spare time…..at the moment i am reading the book ‘india ” by patrick french…a very interesting read….Keep up the good work j

    • JayadevM
      November 5, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      Kathy, you are way ahead of the pack. Keep reading! Wish I had that much time and persistence.

      Yes, the lack of language skills is widespread among the younger generation. Today I had a student asking me to tell him the difference between “Where” and “Were” – he is in a MBA program!!

  7. October 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    I agree, learning is a never ending process. I usually read fiction quite voraciously but when it comes to non-fiction I find it difficult to read for long. Well, last year I successfully completed reading ‘Seven Habits of Effective People’ by Stephen Covey and it has provided me some better insights in life in general!Happy Vijayadhasami to you and family

    • JayadevM
      November 5, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      Hi Jayashree,

      I apologise for the delayed response. My computer had some issues and I wasn’t able to respond to comments posted at my blog. I have not been a regular at Indiblogger either for the same person.

      I hope you had a good time during Dusera.

      7 Habits is a life changing book – I enjoyed reading it and benefited immensely from following what has been suggested there by Covey. I quote them regularly to my students too.

      Happy Reading!

  8. Jamy
    October 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Jay i was never a great reader of books but always watching documentaries and following interesting lectures-prefer lecture notes rather than long dictated or preprinted ones 😉 But with the web now, am reading and learning more….there is always room for improvement and one should never lose one’s thirst for knowledge!

    • JayadevM
      November 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm

      Absolutely, Jamy!

      You are never far from a book or other reading material – just don’t create a barrier to stop yourself from reading. Stay engaged – the degree of interest or the time spent is unimportant. Who is to decide how much you should read? Yourself.

      People who do not enhance their skills or read will realise their folly soon enough.

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