All readers are not necessarily leaders, however, it’s true that all leaders are readers. What do you think about when you just read that? Didn’t reading that make you think about that statement? So logically we could go a step farther and say if all leaders are readers, and if reading makes you think, then, leaders are thinkers. My question then, is, “Why aren’t there more leaders?” Years ago, LIFE Leadership chairman, and best selling author Orrin Woodward, once asked me if I did any reading? My answer was, “I don’t have time to read.” Twenty years later I ask, “Why did I say that?” Today, I can safely say, “Reading has changed my life.”
To get through college I must have had to read. Unfortunately, like so many of us, I had come to a place in my life where my busy schedule prioritized other activities instead of reading. By not prioritizing reading, I didn’t recognize the value I was losing. Because of that, my life had become stagnant in the areas of my relationships, marriage, parenting, and finances. It wasn’t until years later when I began using the LIFE Leadership subscriptions that my life began to improve in all of those areas. There was a direct improvement in my application of what I was learning as a result of reading.
There is a direct connection to leadership and literacy. That connection effects our entire culture. What concerns me is that literacy in our country is at an all time low. How did that happen? Studies show that at the turn of the 1900’s literacy in America was as high as ninety percent. It has gradually decreased since the 1940’s when it was in the seventy percent range. Today, depending on which studies you read, the literacy rate in the United States hovers around twenty – five percent. The decline in literacy should shock us. There are a variety of reasons for the decline of literacy one of which is associated with the method of teaching reading. In the late 1800’s the method of teaching reading changed from ‘Phonics’ to ‘Sight Reading.’ Phonics establishes a progressive neurological maturation similar to what a baby goes through from crawling, to kneeling, to standing, to walking. When this is interrupted the developmental sequence of the neurological maturation process is interrupted. Site reading was established because educators found reading results were faster when teaching the deaf. Was it a coincidence that the first documented use of the word, ‘dyslexia’ showed up at the beginning of the 1900’s. In the book, ‘Dyslexia and Your Child,’ Dr. Rudolph Wagner writes, “they are poor readers in spite of good intelligence; they are easily discouraged by their failures; they often reverse letters and whole words; they are sometimes held back a grade in school.” Edmund Burke Huey who studied under G. Stanley Hall wrote in 1907, “… a false ideal has taken of us, that to read is to say just what is upon the page, instead of to ‘think.’ Samuel L. Blumenfeld writes in ‘The New Illiterates,’ “Until the insidious thought of reading as word – pronouncing is well worked out in our heads, it is well to place the emphasis strongly where it really belongs, on reading as ‘thought – getting’ independently.” The ramifications on a free people who are not reading and not thinking are wide spread. Christopher Lasch writes about the effects of the growing trends in illiteracy in ‘The Culture of Narcissism,’ “it has contributed to the decline of critical thought and the erosion of intellectual standards.” Ultimately if we don’t think someone else will think for us. Is this why we are seeing a growing trend toward central control or Statism?
There are many reasons for the decline of literacy. How many of us have seen the influence from the media? The use of media like TV, the internet, and cell phones has had a direct impact on literacy. In addition, compulsory programs in schools now choose specific textbooks from experts that teach us our field of study. Are you confidant of one author of that particular textbook? We except with confidence, that those who influence our curriculums know what is best. As we begin to think less for ourselves we begin to take the word of someone in authority. Disagree? How could one author be the sole provider of knowledge in any field? But that’s exactly what we teach through textbooks. Lack of thought opens the door for those in authority who could potentially manipulate the economy. The book ‘The Financial Matrix’ describes the deleterious effects of the current fiscal policies? Best selling author, Orrin Woodward carefully examines how we are influenced in ‘Resolved 13 Resolutions for LIFE,’ "But why do most Universities support government intervention in the economy? Can you say FTM (Follow The Money)? Who is funding nearly every University in America and the Western world? Is it the same Western governments who benefit from the Universities teaching the flawed Keynesian (government manipulation of the free market) economics? The same government, who partners with educators, convincing the masses of the benefit of Keynesian inflationary policies, then rewarding the educators through money grants, prestigious university posts, and government advisory roles in the Statist governments. All the professor has to do is promote the popular Keynesian policies to move ahead." There is a direct proportion to the decline of leaders, literacy and thinking with the rise of centrally controlled media, federally funded education, and centrally controlled (Statism) government. There is such a significant decline in literacy that one could connect that decline to the ‘The Financial Matrix?’
Reading stimulates thinking. You can’t read something and not think. Try it. If you just read this, you thought about what I was saying. The next phase of thinking is to decide if you agree with the author. Now you’ve got it! You are brought to a point where you have an opinion on why you agree or disagree with the author. In order to agree or disagree you have to have your own thoughts on the subject. In other words, instead of having someone else think for you, you begin to think for yourself. Each subject you read expands your thinking of that subject. In essence you can become a life long learner by getting involved in a self - directed education. By targeting specific areas of study you can change the results of your marriage, parenting, business, or finances. The end result is that you can break free from 'The ‘Financial Matrix.’
This is the key to leadership development, read, think, apply, and make adjustments. A leader establishes a plan for a specific area in their life and begins to break ground to apply new habits. A leader is hungry to learn and is always moving forward and growing. They are not afraid to fail. That is why they call it leading. Leading and learning occurs when we think about our results and make adjustments. Adjustments change the outcome. Making adjustments and changing outcomes lead to a better understanding. Reading effects our thinking because we expand our vocabulary, look through foot – notes and resources, and research the subject. Even studying the root word from Latin or Greek is helpful. Mortimer J. Adler calls this ‘Syntopical reading.’ ‘Syntopical reading’ is the most complex type of reading. He writes, “The reader reads many books, not just one, and places them in relation to one another and to a subject about which they all revolve… The syntopical reader is able to construct an analysis of the subject that may not be in any of the books.”
Our Republic and ultimately freedom is at risk. A recent study in Princeton found our society is no longer a Democracy and is now considered an Oligarchy, “The U.S. government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country's citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern universities has concluded.” This explains why the book, ‘The Financial Matrix,’ is more relevant today than ever before. Without leaders who are readers and thinkers freedom can be taken by stealth. “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves,” Abraham Lincoln. We celebrate ‘Thanksgiving,’ for our freedoms. Let’s not be deceived. Freedom is at a precipice. It’s time to begin reading and leading. God Bless, George Guzzardo