58% of HS graduates don’t read books

The challenges ahead are great, and a few things need to change.


A few years ago I wrote an article for the Professional Skier. Its origin was from an idea passed on to me by Jeff Olson. It was that of the slight edge, little things do matter. My article centered around the 10 Core Commitments of a Ski Instructor. It was based on the idea that it is the small things completed over and over again which lead to big results, The Slight Edge. Another of my mentors, Jim Rohn, shares and equally important item: To become successful at some thing requires becoming proficient at five or six things.” The secret is to find those things. The best way to do that is to ask somebody who has what you want, “What are the most important things which makes you successful at what you do”. One of the core commitments is to “read 10 pages of a good book a day”.
This year will be my 18th year of teaching skiing, and 22nd year of teaching sports. I smile at the thought of some of the great times I have enjoyed. As I write this, I laugh a little. I was never a reader in school. I did not read a non-text book until after I graduated. I read my first book during my 3rd of 5 1/2 years in College. It was Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, I went on to read a number of his books. The Dark Half was by far the most frightening book I have ever read. And The Gunslinger series was one of the more enjoyable book series I have read (7 books). I say that to say, it has to start somewhere. I am proud to say that my library is much larger these days. I am still not much of “the classics” reader. I prefer non-fiction and biographies. Two of my current favorites are Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America
by Tom Freidman, and Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
In the past 18 months I have also read thousands of physical pages, and thousands more virtual pages of financial and trading/investing information.
In 1997 I was working with a company which focused on development of the person before development of the work. Or as Jim Rohn says, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” I have come to know that as correct. I have a number of well-meaning co-workers who tell me, “not think so much”. That makes me smile too.
During the research of my 10 Core Commitment article. I found that 68% of households did not purchase a book in 2003. And I found an equally staggering statistic, 58% of High School Graduates have not read a book since they received their diploma. As I ski with my students, we have lots of talk time as well as ski time. I feel very fortunate to ski with many interesting people. Conversation topics can run the gamut: Children and grandchildren at soccer games; stock market; business; drug approval process; law of attraction; etc… I have fun and learn so much from those conversations. One thing most of my students have in common is that they read regularly.
Perhaps it is the financial demographic of a student purchasing a private lesson at Breckenridge. Perhaps it is their higher level of business or financial experience. But whatever it is, I am convinced that they are more interesting people due to their experiences and knowledge.
This is where some of my expertise resides

I was reading a book by Brian Tracy, Brian Tracy’s How to Become A Millionaire
One of my successful friends in Prepaid Legal Services, asked me. “How many millionaires do you know?” I replied, “Probably two hundred”. He was shocked, and I couldn’t understand why until he told me. The average person may know 1 or 2. Again, I feel fortunate in my chosen profession because I get to meet some very nice people, and I get to talk with them on a variety of subjects. And I get to integrate some of those understandings into a more global view.
Here is a final thought. As we move into an era of unprecedented challenges for the US and global economies and environment, I believe reading, education, and action will be necessary to help us move through into a new age. Those who try to do the same thing in light of different challenges are bound to find frustration, and limited answers to these challenges. I certainly hope that the dismal statistics of American readership will reverse. They need to reverse. Other countries (China, India) are producing 100’s of thousands of genius minds.
One of my mentors, Jeff Olson has created the Success Foundation. He has also written a book for teens, which is based on the fundamentals of the slight edge. If you or someone you know works with teens they may be eligible to get these for free. My oldest child has just started reading this book. I believe it is a fantastic educational brick to the build one’s life upon.

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