Photo available at The Disney Fun Fact of the Day
This is a different kind of post. It’s different mainly because I’m not trying to share some concept or idea; instead, I’m asking for your help. This is a post about an issue that I have not resolved satisfactorily and I’m genuinely looking for any insight and tips that my friends and readers can offer.
Do you remember the Sorcerer’s Apprentice from the original Disney movie, Fantasia? In that scene, the sorcerer leaves Mickey Mouse in charge as he leaves the room. This gives Mickey a chance to practice what the sorcerer has been teaching him. He begins by conjuring up the household utensils to help him with his chores; the brooms come to life and begin sweeping; the dishes begin washing themselves; the mops begin bringing in water from the well. This gives Mickey a chance to take a restful nap. Unfortunately, while Mickey sleeps, the helpers get carried away and soon the room is filling with water and suds and floating debris. Poor Mickey awakes to find himself in the midst of a swirling, splashing disaster. Then the sorcerer returns just in time to put things back into order.
That’s how I feel about the deluge of information that I experience daily. I must confess that I’m a lover of books. But I feel like my list of things to be read is getting out of control. The room is rapidly filling with information and I’m about to drown. I have a stack of journals on my desk about two feet high waiting to be read; I have one whole book case of books I have purchased and never read; my Google RSS reader is filling up; my email Inbox runs off the page; my book summaries are piling up (the ones I need to read, not the ones I have written); not to mention my Amazon.com wish list, which is beginning to look like a library catalog.
I feel frustration over the conflict between what I want to read and the limited time I have to read. I have not been able to verify this statement, but I have often heard that, for every book we choose to read, we are guaranteeing the exclusion of a thousand others from the readings of our lifetime.
One of our greatest needs today is for leaders–men and women of action who know how the world works–who are also scholars. A recent Academy of Management Review article examined the top papers of 2010 to see what criteria most influenced editors’ decisions to accept them for publication as well as which papers were most frequently cited. They found that originality was at the very top of the list of criteria, interpreted as a revelatory contribution to the advancement of management as a science. This means that the field of management and leadership studies is relentlessly pushing forward toward new insights and more scientifically sound theories of organizational behavior. Leaders need to be aware of these developments. In other words, we need to stay current… But How?
I can’t be the only one who has felt this pressure. My hope is that some of you might be able to give me and other readers of this blog some tips on how to be more productive in our reading discipline.
What are your thoughts? What has worked for you? How do you deal with the overwhelming amount of information that is available to read? How do you select what to read? Do you have a reading program? How do you decide what not to read? Please share your insights in the comments area below.
Greg Waddell provides consulting services for churches and organizations. Contact Dr. Waddell today at gregwaddell[at]leadstrategic.com to discuss the needs of your organization.