In today’s world of high-tech audiovisual performance, for many people reading has become an almost archaic practice. With the advent of 3-D film, IMAX, James Cameron’s Avatar and Blue Ray DVD’s, what appeal does the humble paperback have, in comparison?

However, the reality remains that the written word will never go away for as long as humans hunger for knowledge and understanding. No other form of communication can replace reading, for this simple reason: it allows us to walk into another person’s mind.

Reading is the closest experience to a virtually telepathic connection between two individuals: the reader and the writer. Even if the author has left us centuries ago, we are still able to experience the world as he or she perceived it at the time of writing. No amount of modern audiovisual reenactment can ever replace the power of this connection.

For the average networker, being able to read the thoughts of those who have gone before and learn from them is not just a boon but a necessary tool. To hear someone speak only leaves a fleeting impression in one’s mind, but reading what a person has written becomes imprinted in our very psyche.

A networker needs to read just as much as a musician needs to play. Hearing is only part of the process. Reading strengthens our ability to communicate so we can go out and reproduce what others have been able to accomplish.

Reading gives you power: the power of your imagination, the power to learn, the power to gain and share ideas, the power to shape your thinking.

In networking, we know that from thought comes word, from word comes action, from action comes habit and from habit we form our character, which in turn becomes our destiny. In short, what we think, we become. It is critically important for networkers to cultivate, maintain and elevate the art of reading so that it becomes part of their lifestyle. Reading centers the mind, balancing us, reenergizing us from the core.

As a networker, I have been mentored by many great individuals I have never even met. In the absence of a real-life mentor, I’ve always found that the next best thing is to turn to a book by someone I respect. Since a book has no ego, it is possible to take its advice at your discretion and at your pace. A book does not nag you, it can just sit on a shelf or on your desk as a silent but constant reminder of what you have learned and what you still need to learn. It is a subtle intrusion and sometimes even a subtle seduction drawing you back to where you need to be.

I am grateful to the written word for being my mentor and, on occasion, my mistress, by pushing or by pulling, but either way, constantly moving me along the path of change.

VIJAY ESWARAN is chairman and CEO of a
multinational conglomerate headquartered in Hong Kong.
He also is a veteran networker, popular speaker and author
In the Sphere of Silence, a bestselling book on his life philosophy.
Vijay Eswaran lectures at leading universities and business
forums around the world on a variety of
subjects ranging from spirituality to leadership.