Every day the e-mail inbox is filled with whitepapers, e-newsletters, blogs and posts of all kinds. Your desk is piled high with those tomes you have promised to read "soon."
All the while you're working diligently to solve the next business dilemma, put out today's fire, pitch a potential client, finalize your latest proposal and otherwise run the business.
So how can you stay on top of the latest and best information about your industry, your colleagues, best practices? Do you take the reading home and maybe peruse it on the train ride, after dinner (or sadly - during dinner) or on the weekend?
The question is do you devote enough time to staying current?
Without input you're operating in a vacuum. You've created your own world where what you know is what you know. It's comfortable, lacks anxiety and is your "normal."
Well that's fine, but the world is speeding past you. Everyday, more and more is added to the knowledge base about EVERYTHING.
Business is not conducted in a vacuum. It's always evolving. New technologies, new equipment, new processes and new ways of improving are constantly being developed, uncovered and offered to those paying attention. If you can't or won't help yourself by seeking out the newest and best, you and your company will eventually become irrelevant. It's your job to lead the way into the new territories, but you can't go blindly. Doing so would be like a miner entering the mineshaft without a light to guide him.
That stack of articles, magazines, whitepapers and other forms of important content call your name everyday. Putting aside a specific time to at least peruse and prioritize the important reading will help whittle down the volume. Cherry pick the most interesting and impactful topics for a further serious read. This will make the task less daunting. Most importantly, you need to designate a very specific time and place, if you can, in which to read.
Reading produces a result similar to the conferences and seminars that many of us attend. Much of the information is already known to us, but there always seems to be a take-away that's of significant use to ourselves or the company -- some nugget of information that we can transform in a tangible, useful way.
So, read you must. You cannot lead or even manage people, no matter how smart they are, without being aware of the issues that are constantly forming and changing perpetually. Now I'm not saying that you must be the consummate expert, but you do need to have a grasp so that you can formulate the correct questions.
By extension, you should encourage your staff -- at all levels -- to read the important industry-focused material that reaches their desks. In fact, as you discover important, interesting articles, etc., you should present it to them. As the conduit, you will lend import to the material, and your employees will read just because you saw fit to pass it on. If the boss sends it, it must be good, or at least important, for them to know.
My mother used to say "Just keep talking because people only hear 10% of what you say, but you never know which 10%." So... Just keep reading because you don't know which 10% will be important.
If you would like to read more of Greg's published articles please visit the Lorraine Gregory Communications Group website.
This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.