by Oliver DeMille

The Principle

Successful people do things that unsuccessful people don’t. The Pen 1-3

This is a great principle of life, and it applies to many things, from business and finance to relationships and fitness, from health and happiness to education and career.

It also applies to reading.

Specifically, the top leaders, most of whom become dedicated and effective readers, do more than read a book, an article, or a blog.

They read with a purpose—every time.

When they read, they look for personal answers, they read with a pre-planned list of questions, they read to change, and they read with a pen in one hand.

The Power

The pen, actually, does most of these others things for them.

It writes and records goals, purposes, questions, new ideas, needed changes, and nuggets of wisdom, in every book and article. It darts from page to page, marking, highlighting, circling, underlining, and adding the following marks: !, ?, “No!,” “Yes!,” “Really?,” “Find Out,” and “Wow” on page after page, book after book.

The pen asks questions that the reader needs to answer—writing them in the front pages of the book or article.

The pen makes a list of answers, and other important ideas, in the back pages of the book.

On page 34 or 157 the pen writes things like, “Compare this with page 261,” or “Contrast this with Covey’s Habit 3.”

The pen writes at the top of a page: “Copy this story for my son Lance.” At the bottom of another page it writes, “Use this idea in my next speech.

On yet a third page the pen records: “I need to improve my relationship with _______________ by following this advice.”

In fact, this pen isn’t like regular pens. No, this pen is more powerful. In the hands of a good reader, it heals relationships, it inspires those who are struggling, it educates children and youth, it trains up leaders.

All of this is a normal day’s work for the pen—in the hands of a Great Reader.

The Pen 2.2-2The Magic

The pen turns normal reading into Great Reading.

It creates lasting memories, and links ideas like a chain of islands between many books and articles, connecting the reader’s thoughts over the course of weeks, years, and decades.

The pen also links with other readers, who come along later and see what it added to the book. When the owner re-reads a book years later, the pen reminds her of what she thought about last time—or the last three times.

The pen is, literally, mightier than the sword.

Wielded by a Great Reader, or someone practicing to become a Great Reader, it changes lives, moves regular men and women and children to greatness, and turns good people into mighty leaders.

Used right, the pen builds character, families, and communities that strengthen nations and generations.

But to do any of this, the pen must accompany its reader each time he or she picks up a book. Or article.

It must write the reader’s thoughts in the book, a blank page, margins, chapter endings. The pen finds many places to record its wisdom.

But there is more. As powerful as such reading and such a pen can be, the really great parent, teacher, leader, and reader uses the pen to turn reading into a life-changing event for everyone they serve.

Such a pen writes in the margin on page 76 or 125: “Share this quote with Tommy, and tell him how much I want to help him.” Or on page 189: “Lend this book to Jen, and share with her how powerful this story was in my life—and that I immediately thought of her when I read it.”

Great Readers use the pen, each time they read.

With the pen in their hands, the book becomes wiser, better, more effective, more important.

And the result is often pure magic.

The Pen 3-3The Miracle

With all this, there is even more.

The greatest miracle occurs in a very interesting way, when a parent, mentor, or other leader sits with a student or learner and teaches him how to use the pen.

  • First, learn to do it yourself by practicing, each and every time you read. Write, mark, circle, question…
  • Then, turn it into magic by using the pen to serve, lead, and help others. Add your wisdom to the author’s, and make the book even better than when you first picked it up.
  • Finally, create a true miracle. Teach a student or youth to become a Great Reader, learner, thinker and leader—by reading with and using the incredible power of the pen.

The pen is for everyone. Nobody should be without it.

It knights every user who will pick it up and put it to use. All are nobles with the pen in their hand. All can slay dragons, build castles, inspire kingdoms to nobility and rise to greatness using the pen.

The pen doesn’t discriminate. It sees the greatness in every person—unique, potential, powerful.

The pen is available to the poorest and the richest, the happiest and the most in pain. Pick up the pen.

A normal pen can be found almost everywhere, and it can be turned into a great pen very easily. Use the pen. Use it again.

The power will come, the magic will happen, the miracles will flow—to all who simply open a book and use the pen.

For more techniques and skills of great reading, I highly recommend the excellent book Turn the Page >>

Join Oliver for Mentoring in the Classics >>