So you wish to be successful? Maybe, when you see a blog saying “5 things to take on your success journey,” you click on it, and skim through the copy. Maybe, when you’re flicking channels and Oprah’s smiling face and perfect hair pop into view, you pause and listen. Maybe you subscribe to a leadership podcast, or go to conferences where smart executives click through powerpoint slides and try not to day dream.

You probably go for dinner with your cute friends and discuss your career over a glass of wine. You probably tell each other your dreams and desires, and express what frustrates you. You mention how you want so badly to succeed in life and in your career. Yet, isn’t it ironic that the last thing we do when are looking for the pathway to success, is to pick up a book? And yet within the pages of a book is the exact answer to the questions we have.

“But, I don’t have time…”

I can see you saying it already. Really? What if Ted messages – then you have time? What about the season finale for Game of Thrones? Then you have time. Sushi on Saturday evening? Then you have time. I rest my case.

Here’s why you should pick up a book more often:

It’s relaxing

A study conducted by the University of Sussex found that when you read it can reduce stress up to 68%; working faster than other relaxation methods such as listening to music or drinking a hot cup of tea (2009).

Our minds are usually buzzing at 10 thoughts per second, and we often struggle to slow down and wind down. Read a book before you go to bed and it will help you put the day to rest, immerse yourself in someone else’s story, and leave tomorrow’s worries for tomorrow.

It stimulates ideas

Your mind produces what it is fed. If you throw it junk food – a.k.a. reruns of the Kardashians – it will produce junk. If you feed it stimulating and challenging content, you will find the quality of your conversation and the ideas you are able to come up with are far better. The scientists over at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported that just reading engages 17 regions of your brain.

You gain insight

We can never know it all. If we think we do, then we are in a very dangerous position. When you read, you gain access to points of view that are different to your own. You gain access to information filtered through a lens which is not your own and you are opened up to new ways of thinking and approaching things.

You provide stimulating conversation

You will gain very little respect by referencing Kim’s latest fashion range in a conversation. Whereas if you have read and understand a book on China’s economics, things would look a little different. I’m not saying read something you aren’t interested in – don’t, you won’t get through it anyway. But take your interests and instead of reading the gossip column in hello, read about it in a well written book.

You learn things in depth and detail

Some information simply can not be hashed out in a four-minute read. When you read a book the writer has space to go into detail on a subject. Your mind learns to focus and process more complex information. It’s like a workout – you need to work your mind with increased complexity in order for it to grow and change.

Books stretch your mind and once your mind is stretched it allows you to go places in your career and in your life which you would never imagine. If you read one book a year, challenge yourself to read two. I read the Bible on a constant basis and then I read leadership and career books as well as novels. On that note, it’s probably time you stopped reading this blog and found yourself a nice chunky hardcover. Happy reading and see you later!