All the books in the world

I love to read. However, I haven’t always been that way. In fact, my sister was always the bookworm in the family. The Hardy Boys, the Boxcar Children and the Bobbsey Twins were always in hand on any trip or moment of the day. I, on the other hand, would rather be ‘doing’ something, like working on a project, coming up with an idea, or earning money, somehow. I simply didn’t have an appetite for reading.

That all changed when I hit the ripe old age of about 30, and I decided that I wanted to know more. I wanted to be able to carry on an intelligent conversation with my peers, discussing current events or a variety of other interesting topics. And so I began to read. What began as a casual hobby quickly evolved into something more. I saw that opening a book opened me up to a whole new understanding of someone else’s point of view, and I began to explore these new pathways to previously undiscovered ways of thinking.

Tellingly, but not coincidentally, my interest in reading grew alongside my experience building a business. As I grew the MODE concept, I bought every business book I could get my hands on and absorbed every bit of advice I could. I devoured what was in their pages and neatly placed that book in my ever-expanding business library. I learned so much from reading, in fact, that I wanted to share that knowledge with my team, so I started a small library at our MODE corporate office so employees could borrow books.

When I lost MODE, I experienced a period of PTSD and became disinterested in everything I associated with that era, including my large library of business books. I decided they all had to go. I had read what all the experts had to say; I had taken notes and implemented their suggested tips for business success – so why hadn’t it worked? To heck with the books! I no longer had a need for them – they had betrayed me – so I quickly pulled them off my shelves, boxed them up, and looked for a buyer for my vast library.

Seeing my distress, my husband mentioned that he might want to purchase them and create a library for his team at work. “Fine,” I said, “Take them to your office, get them out of my sight.” He did, and they sat in the corner of his office, untouched, for about a year. That is, until one day when I sheepishly asked if I could have them back.

You see, after the dust settled from the pain of losing my dream, I realized it wasn’t the books that betrayed me; it was life circumstances that shifted my course, and it didn’t matter if I had absorbed every ounce of knowledge from all the books in the world. My life had changed course, and it was actually the words of wisdom that I had gleaned from each of those books that gave me the insight to dig deep and, once again, find hope. The tips and encouragement within the pages of those books – the stories of other entrepreneurs’ failures, not their successes – encouraged me to dip my toe back into the waters of entrepreneurship and try again.

While reading others’ stories gave me the courage to move forward, what I ultimately learned through my experience is more nuanced. I learned that we do not achieve success in our own story by following another person’s exact roadmap. Instead, we should apply what we learned – a bit from here and a bit from there – to forge our own unique path, and realize our dreams on our own terms.

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