Grow Yourself by Meeting People and Reading Books

“Five years from now, you’re the same person except for the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read.” John Wooden, former UCLA basketball coach

I really like this quote. It reminds me that to grow we need to:

  1. Meet the right people, and
  2. Read the right books

Meet the right people

Meeting the right people is important because you will become more and more like the people around you. The people you meet will influent you, whether it is good or bad. That’s why it is important to carefully choose the people you meet, especially if they are to be your close friends.

Try to surround yourself with positive people. If you want to be a winner, then meet winners. If you want to be successful, then meet successful people. Whenever possible, try to find someone with higher capacity than you. Someone with more experience, more wisdom and more knowledge. These are the people from whom you can learn most. I am always excited whenever I meet someone I can learn from.

Interestingly, everybody has his or her own unique strengths, so chance is someone you meet will have higher capacity than you in certain fields. It means that you can learn from many, many people.

Read the right books

For me, it is the surprising part of the quote. I know reading books is important, but I never thought that it is that important. But after thinking about it for a while, I know that it’s absolutely true.

Reading books is important because in many ways it is the same as meeting people. When you meet someone, you will know and be influenced by her thoughts. In the same way, when you read a book you will know and be influenced by the author’s thoughts. It’s just as if you meet the author and she shares her wisdom and knowledge with you. A valuable experience, right?

What unique about books is you can easily absorb the thoughts of the best people in the world. It may not be easy to meet them personally, but through their books you can deeply know their thoughts. Through their books they speak hours and hours to you. Wow!

Realizing this, I now appreciate reading books even more than before. How else can I deeply know the thoughts of the best people in the world? How else can I learn from their experiences? Through books I can learn from people with much higher capacity than me. They have gone through years in their life to accumulate the wisdom they write in their books, and I can just directly absorb it! What a privilege.

Of course, it is important to read the right books. Just as meeting the right people is important, so is reading the right books. The thoughts in the books can deeply influence you, so you’d better pick only the best.


  1. I think these ideas can be more elegantly be portrayed as:
    “Diversify your experiences”

    Surround yourself with clones of yourself, whether in friend, book, or blog form, and you’ll likely learn very little. I see this effect pretty often. Sites like make it particularly apparent to me that many people are seeking clones of themselves, perfected.

    In my experience, I’ve learned very little from people who do not explain the reasoning behind their opinions, whether they agree or disagree with my sentiments. “Assholes”, curiously, are the most useful sort of person I’ve ever come across. People who challenge my point of view to the breaking point. That’s where I often learn the most.

    Without that challenge to my currently coveted ideology: There is likely to be no growth and diversification of experience.

    I see much association between limited experience and things such as racism and other horribly stupid decisions.

  2. Interesting thoughts, Richard. I agree with you, we learn the most from people who can challenge our point of view. And the same thing applies to book. We learn much more from thought-provoking books then the books we are already familiar with.

    “Diversify your experiences”. I like that. Thanks!

  3. […] Donald Latumahina presents Grow Yourself by Meeting People and Reading Books posted at Life Optimizer. […]

  4. […] Donald Latumahina presents Grow Yourself by Meeting People and Reading Books posted at Life Optimizer. […]

  5. […] ReadingThis is an essential part of my life. I love reading books and web sites (blogs included, of course) for one simple reason: reading allows me to absorb the thoughts of the best people in the world. It is as if I meet them personally and hear what they say.  […]

  6. ofurhie martins
    ofurhie martins

    the people we associate with either make us grow or they leave us devastated. SO CHOOSE THE RIGHT FRIENDS

  7. Yes, I think reading is absolutely necessary, particularly to prevent being captive to the all pervasive “tyranny of the here and now”. Read everything and anything. but remember, “some books are to be tasted, some to be swallowed, and some to be chewed and digested” – Francis Bacon.
    I think the first book one should read is How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler, a great philosopher of the twentieth century. He shows you how to have a conversation with the author, and don’t just absorb what he says, but rather examine it for yourself and see if it makes sense. You don’t necessarily have to read only good books, but you should be able to discern and be a lover of truth, and take truth wherever its found, and discard whatever you consider false. For example, even though I am a convinced Catholic, I have gathered much wisdom from Bertrand Russell and other atheistic philosophers, although I do not agree with much of what he says. Of course, it is necessary to be a critical thinker and use logic and reason well. That is why Robert Louis Stevenson once said that some people are better off not reading because they absorb blindly without examining, reflecting, thinking, contemplating. Always learn, always question, always be curious.
    A wise man learns more from a fool than a fool from a wise man.

  8. Julian,
    Yours is a really thoughtful comment. Thanks for sharing.

  9. hi i don,t have a great education could u suggest some books and try to keep these with easy to read books so ill understand them

Comments are closed.