Every December, I’m inspired by my friend Sam Luce with the list of books he’s read in the year. Last year he read more than 50 books. WOW! I think I might have read 8. For the last two or three years, I’ve made a conscious thought to read more books, but I never do. However, this year I tried something different and it worked. This year, I set a goal to read 18 books and this week I completed my 17th and 18th books. With two months left, I think I’ll hit 25.

Over the past 5-10 years, I KNOW that I’ve become better at what I do because of the books I’ve read. I’m probably influenced the most by mentors, relationships and experiences from conferences and trainings. However, what I’ve learned from the books I’ve consumed come in a close second. The books I’ve read have inspired me, equipped me and expanded my vision for the future. I know that my potential is connected to the books I’m reading. If you want to increase your potential, you better up your reading game as I’ve done with mine.

So here are two things I did this year that really seemed to work.

Make a List

In January, I sat down to work on my goals. One of my goals revolved around the books I wanted to read. Instead of just listing how many books I wanted to read, I actually listed the books I wanted to read. I made headings like

  • Leadership
  • Parenting/Family
  • Ministry
  • Fiction/Fun
  • Spiritual/Personal Development

Under these headings, I listed the books I wanted to read. By the time I finished the list, I was up to 25 books. Perfect, I had room to grow and a good selection of books to choose from. At this moment, there are 44 books on the list. A lot of new books have come my way that moved to the top of my list. It’s funny actually, of the original 25 books on my list, I’ve read three of them. Of the 6-7 books I’ll read before the end of the year, 3 of them are from the original list.

I just think there’s something powerful about having a the list. When a new book comes along that I want to read, I put it on the list. When I finish a book, I go to my list and look for the book I want to read most.

Make Time

This year I’ve made some pretty drastic changes to my schedule. Although I consider myself a night owl, I’ve flipped my schedule. I wake up between 4:30 and 5:00 every morning (meaning I’m rarely awake past 10:00 PM now). The first 60-90 minutes of my morning is my time. I pray, read my Bible, journal and read. Before most people are awake, I’m charging my batteries for the day – doing something I usually tend to neglect. Regardless of the day, I try to at least read one chapter of a book. Even one chapter at a time, I could crank through 2-3 books a month just by reading a chapter a day.

This is probably just my personality, but I’ve found that the more books that I read, the more I want to read. I find myself watching less TV/Movies and more desire to read.

So, as you head into 2016, consider making reading a part of your leadership development process. It’s certainly and area that I’m growing in, but I think I’ve found something that works for me.