|Part of my new office library in Florida|
— Mark Twain
It is, therefore, with an unusual sense of gratification and pleasure that I pen today's post from my brand new desk in my new home office where I am nearly completely surrounded by the beautiful sight of my personal library.
My family and I recently fulfilled a long-held dream of ours to relocate to South Florida. Moving is an exciting time in one's life; it can also be stressful. My experiences with moving have been unusually many and varied—even by our highly mobile twenty-first century standards.
To wit, I am only 41 years old, yet have moved 45 times to 42 different addresses in two countries, five different time zones, seven different states, and two provinces of Canada.
It's been exciting... and exhausting!
Suffice it to say, with a little luck, we won't be moving again anytime soon. And with a little more luck, the balance of our lives will not include many more moves.
It is upon reflection of these past experiences that I sit here at my computer in my new Palm Beach Gardens home office and take a literal and figurative sigh of relief to think that we are finally settled at least semi-permanently. And it is with a sense of joy and pleasure that I do so in my newly arranged personal library. After all, one of my favorite things to do every time we move is to rearrange my BELOVED BOOKS.
Next to the sight of my beautiful wife and children and the picturesque aqua-blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Florida, there are few sights on Earth as pleasurable and soul-satisfying as a vista of literary volumes—especially if said tomes represent my favorite genres of history, philosophy, theology, poetry, and leadership.
My love of books goes back to before I could even read.
As a six-year-old, I recall the day my neighbor—a gal named Emily Anderson—stopped by our house with her mother, Suzanne. Emily was a "Big First-Grader" and knew how to read; I was still in kindergarten and had not yet learned. Deeply attracted to her budding competency, I invited Emily into my personal office (playhouse under the stairs), handed her some paperwork I had retrieved from my Dad's office trash, and asked earnestly and hopefully if she would do me the honor of reading to me. She obliged; and I was both impressed and entranced by such skill.
How I yearned to follow in her footsteps!
|With my Mama, as a First Grader|
Despite my slow start to formal reading, I was blessed to have been born into a family that loved books as much as I did. My maternal grandfather (1899-1964)—a professor of speech and drama and one of the top-flight oral readers in the United States in his time—built a personal library of thousands of books over the course of his life and career. And while he died 14 years before I was born, his books stayed behind in my grandmother's home where I was able to discover, relish, devour, borrow, and eventually annex some of them into my own library. In addition to Grandmother Smith's sizable personal library, my father—a career English teacher—also owned an impressive number of books for a middle-class man of the 1980s. Consequently, my childhood home—and in time, my own bedroom—was filled with books.
|Copying trigonometry equations|
from my older brothers' math
textbook as a first grader in
sunny Mesa, Arizona
Perhaps avid readers of the Freedom Focused blog have asked themselves: How does Jordan keep coming up with different topics to write about week-after-week-after-week? Well, now you have an answer. When you have traveled as much and read as widely as I have, the well is deep and the memories are thick and rich!
And the cool part is that there is nothing inherently special about me; but everything is special about BOOKS! As such, there is nothing stopping you from diving in more deeply and widely yourself... beginning TODAY! Perhaps reading this article will inspire you to do a little more reading in your own personal and professional life.
I highly recommend it!
This book of short essays incorporates the wisdom of nearly seventy (70) different authors who expound upon why books can be among our greatest friends, provide us with enormous personal and professional pleasure, help us become better people and citizens, and learn to read more effectively. It is a wonderful reminder of the diamond mine of information contained in the world's greatest books. I do hope that introducing this unique book's title and contents might spur your own thinking about how you might further tap into the riches available to you through the written word.
Too many people, upon completing their formal education, stop reading seriously. And in the age of the Internet, too many people spend most of their reading time online consuming virtual print that has little authentic educational value and does not edify the mind or uplift the heart or soul.
This is sad.
It is also preventable.
|Hyrum W. Smith|
Co-Founder of FranklinCovey
Originator of the Franklin Day Planner
When I was just a boy, my father had me memorize a statement that said, "You cannot think any deeper than your vocabulary will allow you to think." If you really examine anyone who has been authentically successful as an entrepreneur—or in any other field—you will discover they have a large vocabulary. As I reflect back over my career, I attribute much of my success to a love of the English language and my commitment to read deeply and widely, and to study speech and language. Anyone who wants to be successful in this world has got to read books, and lots of them. This requires a willingness to set aside electronic devices, social media, video games, and other distractions, and the discipline to stick to the task of reading—even when it seems boring. In order to learn independently of others and expand your vocabulary, you must pay the price to spend time with good books, including the dictionary. There is no other way. The size of your vocabulary will, to a large extent, determine how much success you enjoy—or don't enjoy—in your life.
—Hyrum W. Smith
Suffice it to say, I have learned the spot-on truth of my uncle's words throughout my own life and career, and they ring ever truer as the years go by.
|My college "Vocabulary Journal"|
When I would come across a word I didn't know in a textbook or elsewhere, I would write it down in my vocabulary journal. I would then look up the word in the dictionary and copy down the definition and other relevant information about the word. Sometimes I would also include a "practice sentence" using the word in my own way.
This particular task was NOT an official assignment. It was simply something I knew in my own mind and heart would be a very smart thing to do. And you won't be surprised to hear that this activity has been far more valuable to me in my life and career than 99.9% of the official assignments my professors required me to complete.
Side work that a student proactively pursues on his or her own often ends up being of far greater value than anything a professor formally assigns one to do. Thus it is that the "quality" of a person's formal education is usually determined more by one's own passionate pursuit of learning than the quality or reputation of one's professors—or the supposed prestige of a particular school.
To illustrate this point, consider the following example...
Both of my degrees (a bachelor's in English and a Doctorate in Education) are from obscure, non-prestigious schools. Nevertheless, I'd wager that the quality of my own personal education can beat most (if not all) Ivy Leaguers (or culturally equivalent) in my field. Why? Because the quality of my education was not determined by the schools I attended or the professors I had; it was determined by a conscious choice backed up by concrete, consistent, determined, focused, and persistent (extra) effort on my part.
That's the MAGIC and POWER of SELF-ACTION LEADERSHIP!
I'm not here to tell you what books to read. That's up to YOU to decide. However, just for starters, it couldn't hurt to provide a few of my favorites—just as examples of some of the books that have impacted my life the most, and that could likely bless your life as well, if you are willing to discipline yourself to begin seriously reading one (or more) of them.
1. The Road Less Traveled.........................by M. Scott Peck, M.D.
2. Further Along the Road Less Traveled.........................by: M. Scott Peck, M.D.
3. The Road Less Traveled and Beyond..........................by: M. Scott Peck, M.D.
4. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.........................by: Dale Carnegie
5. How to Win Friends and Influence People.........................by: Dale Carnegie
6. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.........................by: Stephen R. Covey
7. The Lessons of History.........................by:Will & Ariel Durant
8. The Greatest Secret in the World.........................by: Og Mandino
9. Hamlet.........................by: William Shakespeare
10. 101 Famous Poems with a Prose Supplement.........................Edited by: Roy J. Cook
11. Man's Search for Meaning.........................by: Viktor Frankl
12. Self-Leadership: The Definitive Guide to Personal Excellence.........................by: Christopher P. Neck, Charles C. Manz, and Jeffery D. Houghton
13. The Holy Bible
Tune in NEXT Wednesday to learn about the Power of Synergy.