Twice this week, I have been asked about my reading and thinking habits. One enquirer wanted to know much time I spend reading and pondering insights garnered from various authors; the other whether I schedule [slow] thinking time.
Although neither asked explicitly, both enquirers seemed to assume that quiet time and the notion of reading widely are important to me. And, indeed they are. But, why?
The practice of reading serves, I think, two inherent objectives: to maintain currency with trends and developments, and to become a better person. The objective is not to become a technical expert capable of regurgitating data and ideas (ChatGPT can do that), but a more holistic thinker—one who discerns problems and opportunities, considers them from different perspectives, asks appropriate questions and draws relevant conclusions. More succinctly, someone who leads a reflective life.
May I propose something? To philosophise is to breathe. In my experience, and that of others who I have been fortunate to interact with, the ideas that emerge from the practice of philosophising provide a solid foundation for that which follows. And yet many business leaders and board directors claim to be too busy to take time to ponder (think about) possibilities that might lie below the surface or around the corner. Quite why such a (seemingly) bedrock activity is neglected is a curiosity to me; high quality thinking is an antecedent of effective leadership and governance, n'cest ce-pas?
When people I interact with, especially friends and clients, say they see a better me (someone who is on top of his game, is nice to be around and who offers relevant and considered advice), such observations tend to coincide with a period of reading literature (or other so-called 'brainy' books) and thinking deeply about the questions posed by the authors. While comments like this are gratifying, they serve a higher purpose: to remind me to make time, regardless of what else is going on around me.
(And, in case you are wondering, my answers to the enquirers were, "About 12–15 hours each week" and, "Yes.")
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and boardcraft; our place in the world; and other topics that catch my attention.