If you wanted to learn a subject in the university, there is a structured way to do that. For example, to learn economics you might start with Economics 101 in which you have to read book A, do assignment B, and so on. If you followed the path, you are more or less guaranteed to have a good understanding of the subject.
But how can we learn about life? How can we learn about the best ways to live our lives?
This may be the most important subject to learn, yet there is no curriculum on it (even if there is one, I doubt it’s good enough).
So what should we do?
I believe that one of the best ways to learn about life is to study the lives of exceptional people. Find those who live great lives and learn how they do it. And the way to do that? Read their biographies. That’s why I have increasing interest in reading biographies. For me, biographies are among the best books to read.
Why You Should Read Biographies
There are many benefits you will get from reading biographies. Here are four:
1. It teaches you about the pitfalls to avoid
There are pitfalls on the way success. Instead of learning about them the hard way, why don’t you learn from those before you? Biographies can teach you about what make people fail in the past so that you can avoid them in the first place. Of course, it’s impossible to avoid failure altogether (I’ll talk about it in the next point), but at least you can save yourself a lot of time.
2. It teaches you about how to respond to failure
No matter how good you try, you will still fail. It’s simply inevitable (if you have never failed, maybe you aim too low). So, even more important than learning about the pitfalls is learning about how to respond to failure.
Great people can teach you a lot about it. Why? Because one important reason for their greatness is the way they respond to failure. It’s not that they never fail; it’s that they have the right response to failure. Reading their biographies will help you form the right mindset about failure so that you, too, can respond correctly.
3. It opens your mind about what is possible
This is one of the most important things about reading biographies. Often we limit ourselves and think too small. We might think that we will never do anything big in our lives.
But the truth is, every big thing in this world has a small beginning. Wal-Mart, for example, started as a single shop in a small town. Who would have guessed that years later they will become one of the biggest businesses in the world? Reading the story of how something with a humble beginning grows big and changes the world is really inspiring.
You might be doing something that looks small today. Perhaps you have never dreamed that it will become big someday. But reading the biographies of these people will open your mind about what is possible. It will inspire you to dream big.
4. It teaches you about the great principles to live by
Behind extraordinary people are extraordinary principles. They live by them and that’s why they become extraordinary. The principles set them apart and make them stand out in the crowd.
Reading their biographies can teach you about these extraordinary principles. Sometimes they are not explicitly stated, but by studying their lives you can discover the unstated principles that drive them.
True, lasting success comes from the inside out, not the other way around. That’s why these principles are treasures. Make finding them your focus when reading biographies and strive to apply them in your life. Then your life, too, will become extraordinary, starting from the inside.
Photo by Linda Yvonne