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How reading "non-business" books can help you run your business better

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  • Non-business books offer diverse viewpoints that can enhance strategic thinking and innovation.
  • Reading fiction and psychology books can improve empathy and communication skills.
  • Stories about human interactions provide valuable lessons for fostering strong professional relationships.

Leaders and entrepreneurs are constantly seeking ways to gain an edge. While business books are a staple for many, there's a growing recognition of the value that non-business books can bring to the table. These books, often overlooked, can provide unique insights, foster creativity, and enhance leadership skills in ways that traditional business literature may not. Here’s how reading non-business books can make you a better business leader.

The Power of Diverse Perspectives

Reading non-business books exposes you to a variety of perspectives and experiences that can broaden your understanding of the world. For instance, literature, history, and even science fiction can offer lessons in human behavior, ethics, and strategic thinking. As Vikram Savkar notes, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn" is a prime example of a non-business book that can profoundly impact your approach to business by teaching you about paradigm shifts and the nature of innovation.

Enhancing Emotional Intelligence

Non-business books, particularly those in the genres of psychology and fiction, can significantly enhance your emotional intelligence. Understanding characters' motivations and emotions in novels can translate to better empathy and communication skills in the workplace. As Natalya Bucuy points out, books like "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" by Mark Manson teach valuable lessons about embracing failures and managing emotions, which are crucial for effective leadership.

Building Stronger Relationships

Relationships are the cornerstone of any successful business. Non-business books often delve into the intricacies of human relationships, offering insights that can be applied to both personal and professional interactions. For example, the folk story "Stone Soup" teaches the importance of collaboration and community, which are essential for building strong teams and fostering a positive work environment.

Stimulating Creativity and Innovation

Creativity is a vital component of business success, and non-business books can be a rich source of inspiration. Reading about different worlds, cultures, and ideas can spark innovative thinking and help you approach problems from new angles. Reading non-business books can lead to "creative breakthroughs" that might not occur when you're solely focused on business literature.

Practical Applications

To integrate the benefits of non-business books into your business practices, consider the following strategies:

Diverse Reading List: Curate a reading list that includes a mix of genres such as fiction, history, psychology, and science. This diversity will expose you to a wide range of ideas and perspectives.

Book Clubs and Discussions: Start a book club within your organization where employees can discuss non-business books. This can foster a culture of continuous learning and open dialogue.

Reflect and Apply: After reading a non-business book, take time to reflect on its lessons and think about how they can be applied to your business. For example, the teamwork and collaboration themes in "Stone Soup" can inspire new team-building initiatives.

Encourage Reading: Promote a reading culture in your organization by providing access to a variety of books and encouraging employees to share their insights and recommendations.

Incorporating non-business books into your reading repertoire can provide a wealth of benefits that enhance your leadership skills, foster creativity, and improve your ability to build strong relationships. By stepping outside the traditional business literature, you open yourself up to a world of knowledge and inspiration that can drive your business to new heights. As the saying goes, "Never trust anyone who didn’t bring a book with them"—and that book doesn't always have to be about business.

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