If you read about business strategy, you find that getting into a strong competitive position is not enough - the hard part is to sustain it. No matter what you do, as soon as it is successful your competitors try to copy you and take away your advantage. That is just the way free markets work.
And so to keep yourself ahead of the game, you have to be constantly evolving - coming up with new stuff. I blogged about this here once before. It's common sense really.
Yet when it comes to personal development, very few people appear to realize that the same principle applies. Think about it. If you go to the same school as everyone else does, do the same stuff at work as everyone else, then how are you going to produce any original ideas ?
To be different, you have to do something different.
For a knowledge worker, or in other words for anyone who earns his living by mental rather than physical labor, this means getting new information, ideas, and frameworks into your head. And making new connections between them so that new possibilities are thrown up.
And that means reading - a lot of reading. A lot of varied reading on diverse subjects.
Think about it. If you are supposed to think for a living, you need to be exposed to new ideas. Where are you going to find them ? At the work place ? sure. From the chain Emails that circulate around the web and the office ? Of course. But that's what everyone else is exposed to as well. To come up with something new and different, you must try a bit harder. Read books. Read stuff that no one else reads, explore subjects that you are not comfortable with - forcing yourself to think in new and different ways.
Reading is probably the easiest way to get competitive advantage in your personal life. And yet it amazes me how few people actually do it. You go to school, pay heavy fees, toil for years to get a degree - but so does everyone else !! What you learn at school is just the starting point. It is what everyone else learns too - the same books, the same ideas. School certainly makes you smart and opens doors for you, but it is not designed to make you unique - it equips you to get into position to become unique.
And because so few people read regularly, reading makes for an excellent competitive advantage - and it sure beats aimlessly flipping channels on a TV