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Read to Lead

Read to Lead
By Morton C. Blackwell
Morton Blackwell is the Founder and President of the Leadership Institute.
Widely experienced in and out of government, Mr. Blackwell served three years in the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison. In 1984, Mr. Blackwell left the White House Staff to work full - time as the president of the Leadership Institute, his educational foundation which identifies, recruits, trains, and places conservatives in politics, government, and the media.

Some people bluntly say they don't read. They say they would read if only they had the time.

I will also be blunt: You have time to do what you choose to do. The more you read, the better you read -- and the more you enjoy it.

People who don't read cheat themselves. By not reading, you limit what you can achieve, make mistakes you could avoid, and miss opportunities that could improve your life. Soon, as the gaps in your knowledge become apparent to others, you must reconcile yourself to not being taken seriously.

Before going any further, I must make clear that I do not urge you to spend the rest of your days nestled in a cozy spot at the local library. Far from it.

Actively involved in politics since the early 1960s at the local, state, and national levels, I understand the importance of action. Nothing moves unless it is pushed. Political activists elect candidates, pass or repeal laws, and determine public policy. But while boundless energy and enthusiasm are essential in activists, something else is necessary. To be successful leaders, activists must also be well - informed.

How To Learn
You can learn in three different ways:
1. By personal experience.
You can learn by trial and error. Known also as the school of hard knocks, trial and error is the most painful way to learn anything. I can't deny that this school teaches its lessons well. Its drawback, however, is that by the time you graduate -- if, indeed, you ever graduate -- you're too old to go to work. Students who study only at this school learn things only the hard way. No matter how diligent a student you are of the school of hard knocks, you cannot learn by first - hand experience everything you should know.

2. By observation.
By paying attention to what goes on around you, you can learn from the experience of others. Careful observation is invaluab le to anyone in any field, from sports to science to politics. But again, you cannot be everywhere. Everyone's individual power of observation is necessarily limited.

3. By studying the experience of others.
You can't experience or observe everything, but you can, by reading, learn from the experiences of your contemporaries, the previous generation, and those who lived ages ago.

You can learn from them all by reading their works and books about them.

After you have accumulated a lot of knowledge about how the world really works, you can become highly effective and achieve many things important to you.

In politics, it is not enough to know what's right. To succeed, your command of a subject must be so secure that you can persuade people you are right. And then you must activate them.

You should have such a mastery of the issues that you can frame your arguments to anticipate and render ineffective your opponent's arguments. You should know all you can learn about what works and what doesn't work. How do you accomplish this? Schooling alone will not suffice. All knowledgeable people are largely self - taught.

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