- Dr. Kalie Baker
Most Important Skill for Success
What do Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Cuban, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, and so many other wildly successful people agree upon without debate? The importance of reading and that it is one of the most if not THE SINGLE MOST important skill to obtain.
A good reader is an efficient and comprehensive reader free from the many symptoms of various vision disorders. After all, what good is flying through pages if you don’t remember what you read or you weren’t able to understand it?
While it may not appear to be so on the surface, reading is actually no simple task. It actually actively requires 7 distinct visual skills of the total 17 visual skills to be constantly working throughout an entire reading session without symptoms of problems. Knowing about these and symptoms that can arise from problems can help prevent misdiagnosis with ADD or ADHD.
That's certainly no easy task indeed and missing or being deficient in any of these can really hold someone, child or adult, back in reading and kill any desire to crack open a book or sift through a newspaper. Luckily, if you or someone you know has concerns, vision therapy has an 85-95% success rate for treating the vision disorders that can hinder reading, so thank goodness for that.
So why reading? Why is reading arguably more important than math skills? I mean, with my husband having his MBA in finance from USC, all I hear about is how everything is numbers, and I really do see it too. And yet, reading still takes the cake.
Bill Gates has said, “Reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.” And many of the most successful people in the world agree and prove it with their actions of hours of reading every day.
It is arguably the most important skill because it is a skill that broadly reaches over to every other topic, subject, and skill. If you want to learn about cooking techniques, mechanics, coding, philosophy, economics, engineering, biology, medicine, you name it, the better you are at flying through material AND comprehending and remember it, the more information you will obtain.
Warren Buffet gave a lecture to investing students and advised, “Read 500 pages like this every day,” Buffett said to the students while reaching toward a stack of manuals and papers. “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
On top of the many books that Warren Buffet reads, it has also been reported that he reads 6 newspapers a day, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, The USA Today, The Omaha World-Herald and American Banker. It doesn’t leave much time for youtube videos of facebook scrolling I guess, but it all depends on where your priorities lie.
While I love breaking open a good book, I also personally love reading blogs and articles online and have learned so much from doctors in my field and others in areas of expertise that I simply want to learn more from. With so many free sources, it is an amazing time to be a good reader and have a thirst for knowledge.
Mark Cuban pointed out that “Everything I read was public,” in his blog. “Anyone could buy the same books and magazines. The same information was available to anyone who wanted it. Turns out most people didn’t want it.” So since access isn’t a problem to reading, making sure you and your children’s 7 main visual processing skillsthat are required to be avid readers are healthy and efficient have never been more important.
Viewing knowledge building up like compound interest is truly a brilliant thought. After all, if you come across an opportunity that requires a quick and yet educated decision, you are going to have a major advantage over anyone else in the same situation if you have obtained more knowledge from reading and have the tools already stored in your knowledge base to make the right decision.
One of my favorite sayings is that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I have had several situations where, from the outside, many people could have said that I got lucky. The truth is that each of those situations I was able to prosper from or utilize because I had obtained knowledge in the past or worked hard to improve my situation with a degree or career that appeared to serve a minimal purpose at the time, but was crucial to have when an opportunity arose.
One could say that Mark Cuban got lucky with the sale of his internet company, but the truth is that the buyer came across countless others in their lifetime, but when they came across Mark’s site, he had done the work and was prepared when the opportunity came about. He stated, “I remember reading the PC DOS manual (I really did), and being proud that I could figure out how to set up startup menus for my customers,” and “A guy with little computer background could compete with far more experienced guys, just because I put in the time to learn all I could.”
So how does one better their situation, open their minds to new possibilities, obtain the tools they need to expand their capabilities?
Elon Musk made his first really large success selling PayPal to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002 and then later decided to make a car company. To say that going from a payment company to a car manufacturing plant is a bit of a change in industry is a drastic understatement.
Elon’s next move was then to make rocket ships. When asked in an interview how he learned to build rockets, he replied simply and to the point, “I read books.”
Mark Cuban also attributed reading to being able to learn about different businesses and industries stating, “To this day, I feel like if I put in enough time consuming all the information available, particularly with the net making it so readily available, I can get an advantage in any technology business.”
And Oprah Winfrey expressed how reading allowed her to expand her mind and hope for possibilities stating, “Books allowed me to see a world beyond the front porch of my grandmother’s shotgun house… [and] the power to see possibilities beyond what was allowed at the time.”
So, of course, this all makes sense. I don’t believe that it takes much convincing of the stream of logic that knowledge is key to success and even happiness (due to having better emotional intelligence and being better able to handle life’s stresses) and that knowledge can be greatly and freely achieved through reading, therefore reading is key to success and happiness.
So the next thing one might wonder is if it matters what you read? Well to some extent content and quality are obviously very important, but the topic really depends on your goal.
As stated above, Elon wanted to switch industries to making rockets, so that’s what he read about. But am I saying that there is only a benefit of reading if it comes from textbooks, instruction manuals like what Mark Cuban read, or the 6 newspapers a day that Warren Buffet reads? Not at all. Reading can be for gaining emotional intelligence and peace and for improving and expanding our outlooks and creativity.
So the main take-home message is that the benefits of reading are virtually endless in our day and age with access to so much material. Between having access to hundreds of years of literature to research articles that have just been published, you can learn about and expand your knowledge about anything that you can think of.
So make sure you have all the reading specific skills needed to be the best reader you can be and don’t hesitate to get vision therapy if any of your total 17 visual skills or visual information processing skills need some help.
If you or your child are having a hard time reading or just haven't felt like reading was for your favorite thing to do, there may be a visual processing problem occuring in the background that is holding you back like convergence insufficiency held back a 55-year-old patient of mine his whole life. Call our office today and schedule a complete and comprehensive eye and vision exam and we will get you on the right track if anything is wrong.