The Secret to Getting People to Read
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times…
- “How do you expect mentees to read nine books over nine months?”
- “People are too busy with work and family activities to consider something with this much reading.”
The median American reads four books a year. And that’s not just a stat; I can back it up with anecdotal evidence from my conversations. On the other hand, we all perceive the importance of reading and have heard leaders speak to the power of reading…
- “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” –Harry Truman
- “Read 500 pages…every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up like compound interest.” –Warren Buffet
Trust me, I get it, we all have full calendars. But I also know that over 20,000 men and women have completed the Radical Mentoring process…including reading a book a month.
So, how did that happen? What’s the secret? A few observations…
- Clear expectations are huge – Mentees know what to expect when they join a group. Attendance is mandatory, as is homework completion, which includes Scripture memory, personal and relational assignments, and reading a book and writing a one-page net-out. Set the bar high and hold them to it.
- Book choice matters – Be reasonable; we’re looking for practical, digestible books that mentees can read easily in a month. When I look at an end-of-season survey and see that a 400-page book or a theological tome was “least beneficial,” I’m not a bit surprised. We suggest starting with Bo’s Café. Because it’s a novel, it creates a comfortable entry point and allows mentees to connect with at least one part of the main character Stephen’s narrative.
- Mentees hungry to grow appreciate the challenge – Many of us haven’t read a book or submitted a report since high school or college. At least not one where our intent was learning. Since then, nobody asked us to read, so we stopped. Challenging mentees to step outside their comfort zone is integral to their mentoring group experience. They will appreciate and rise to meet the challenge.
Back in 2002, I was in the same position as many mentees. Newly married, with no kids, and few habits that pointed me to Jesus. Then I (somewhat unknowingly) joined a mentoring group and reshaped my immature view of my marriage, my opinion of myself, and, most importantly, my faith. During this yearlong journey, I memorized Scripture and completed homework assignments. These were deeply impactful, but even more meaningful were the books I read and the healthy reading habits I formed. I never thought I’d be a reader. And truthfully, without my mentoring group, I wouldn’t be.
Another question we hear often is about book format. Can my mentees listen to their books via Audible? Are e-readers okay? Do I need to hand them a physical copy of the book?
The format doesn’t matter as long as the expectations are clear and your mentees understand they need a way to take notes and a system to turn those notes into a net-out.
Many will still prefer the classic book in hand. The accomplishment of flipping a page and seeing progress can be an important motivator. But for some, alternative formats work better.
Research shows little cognitive difference between listening to an audiobook versus reading. I read on my Kindle almost exclusively. It’s easy to travel with, and I can easily extract sections I’ve highlighted to create my net-out.
When we read in Radical Mentoring groups, our purpose is actionable takeaways. So, if your mentees are struggling with reading, challenge them to experiment with the format and see if something different works better.
Mentor Tip: No matter what format your mentees choose, it is critical that you make the last item on your meeting agenda to have each one of them order the book right there on their phones from the table. You want to know that they are all in and committed to the process.
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