Growing up I hated reading. I wasn’t good at it so I avoided it at all costs. There likely was an actual learning disability there. In all honesty, I’m pretty sure I graduated high school with about a 6th-grade reading level. I never read any of my assignments, somehow cheated on my literature reports and just snuck by. I seriously never read a whole book cover-to-cover until I was out of college. Couldn’t remember what I just read anyway so what was the point?
This inherently made me a terrible writer. You’ll notice that in these posts. Sometimes my fingers get ahead of my mind and switch words around. Bear with me please. The more I do this the better I’ll get. That’s how it's working with reading anyway. As I really started caring more and more about entrepreneurial ventures, startups, personal/business growth, and fitness I began reading much more and actually taking interest in all sorts of content. Mostly long form articles and blog post from many tech and personal growth blogs. Now it’s a combination of Audible (thank the Lord for Audible), Kindle, and the real thing.
I can’t recall for certain how much I was read to as a child. I don’t even think that really matters much at this point. It may have spared me some embarrassment in class when the teacher called on me to read my 3 paragraphs aloud, but for the most part I’ve done alright for myself. I do know how important it is to read, not just physical books but to absorb content from many different areas. You’ll see everywhere in life that the most successful people read and consume a significantly higher amount of content than the average individual.
That’s where the “The Little Blue Truck” comes into the picture. My son loves the "The Little Blue Truck" books that we have. We have to hide them to incorporate more variety or we end up reading them in addition to the other books that evening before he'll successfully lay down.
Children's books teach many valuable life lessons. These lessons may not be obvious on the surface; however, when revisited in the book, seem simple and benign. Yet I see daily how most people neglect these simplest of concepts.
Reading to my son has become an important part of our daily routine because I know if I had been more interested in the knowledge shared through the books I've recently read or listened to, I'd be a lot farther ahead in my own personal and business growth than I am currently. Reading quality content from those who have been before me was never a priority. I want to make sure I express to my children the importance of "sharpening the saw."
I’ve learned a lot of lessons from the books I’ve read or listened to but I can sum most of them up really quick here with what I’ve gleaned (and hope my son is learning) from "The Little Blue Truck.":
1. One at a time
'You might be fast and I might be slow, but one at a time is the way to go.’
Taking turns isn’t just a concept we tell our children as they grow up. This is something that follows us through our entire life. Just as there are seasons in the year, there are seasons in our life where sometimes it’s not about you, or your project, or even your feelings. Every once in a while, you will have to take a break from your big picture and focus on the needs of someone else. Help someone else with their business or project. Give someone a helping hand. Take some time for someone else.
This doesn’t just go for taking turns with people. Taking turns is the best way to move forward. Sometimes you need to focus on only one thing at a time. You can’t focus on your project or goals while giving full attention to the other person whose turn it might be. Just as you need to take turns with those around you, you need to focus strictly on one task in your life at a time. That task deserves your whole attention and you shouldn’t be half-assing it. I just wrote about that in my previous post you can check out here.
2. Be friendly
‘Horn went “Beep!” Engine purred. Friendliest sounds you ever heard.’
There is zero reason to not be friendly. Sharing a smile, holding the door (for either gender), or saying hello to someone takes only a few moments but can have a significant impact. We have no idea what another person is going through at any given moment.
Be Kind; Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle - Ian McLaren
We’ve both experienced it – you walk by someone mean-mugging the entire world and you immediately tense up yourself. You might even start thinking negatively about that person, assuming you know what is going on in their life. That is a prime opportunity to give them a smile. Not only might you change their mental trajectory for the day, it will affect yours as well.
3. Appreciate what you have
‘Beep beep beep. Isn’t it pretty.’
People are always stretching for more. More money, more followers, more stuff. I’m pretty positive you aren’t taking advantage or appreciating what is already around you. Have you ever taken a second to thank the car that you drive for getting you where you need to go? Take a moment to look at everything around you, you’ve got it pretty damn good.
I’ve had my own personal struggles with this. “Do I really need that?” I now ask myself. If I can’t find happiness with my current situation or possessions, nothing in this world is going to change that. Appreciation leads to happiness and both of those start from within. I don’t have to share with you the statistics of millionaires that seemingly have everything BUT happiness. We should get this by now. Happiness isn’t stuff. It’s what we’re given already every day.
4. Keep your cool
‘…this good advice from a little blue truck!’
The important thing is to not lose sight of your true self. You have a plan and a mission and you should stick to it. Keeping your cool means staying focused, having a purpose, and achieving your goal. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to slowly swim forward than it is to try and just float? Keep moving and don’t panic.
It is really easy to take on more than you can handle. I do this constantly. There are a million and one things you want to accomplish before next year, or next decade. You won’t get there by losing focus and panicking about every little thing. You’ve set your course towards your goal, as long as that is the direction you are moving, and are moving, you’re doing just fine.
5. Lead by example
‘Into the mud, bump bump bump, came the Little Blue Truck to help the Dump.’
Someone is always watching you. You never know who that someone is. It could be the mayor, a business owner, prospective client, or even a friend. The fact is that doesn’t matter. What is important is being your authentic you. I know from experience that certain people who appear to have everything figured out really don’t. They aren’t hiding anything or faking it, they just know that airing out all the negative doesn’t help anyone or move you forward.
At some point in your life, someone who has been an asshole to you is going to ask for, or need your help. Undoubtedly those around you are going to notice your reaction to the situation. Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing. No matter how much trouble that asshole is in, they wouldn’t be coming to you if they didn’t think you were the right person for the job. Knowing that someone is always watching you is a good reminder that you shouldn't ever be an asshole.
I don’t have it all figured out yet and I certainly am not perfect at following all of these lessons, but you’ll notice these lessons are a common theme in many children’s books.
They may not be worded exactly like the lessons here but these themes don’t change much in the personal and business growth books that are popular today.
Not only are these lessons tired-and-true today but they have stood the test of time.
What lessons do you learn from your own or your children’s favorite books? Are you a heavy reader? Have you always been? Are you just now getting into it like me? There is so much amazing knowledge that is shared through books. How are you consuming it all?