Francis Bacon said, “Reading makes a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.” Bacon is referring to reading, discussing, and writing. He adds that if a man writes little, he needs to be really smart, and if he reads little, he will need to “have much cunning to seem to know (that) which he does not.” Let’s unpack the quote by Francis Bacon:
1. Reading makes a full man.
2. Conference makes a ready man.
3. Writing makes an exact man.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “We are what we think about all day long.” In other words, the more we read useful material, the more we are able to be full, not empty.
To refine what we read and think about, we need to discuss with others. This process clarifies and solidifies our own thoughts and ideas. The sheer brilliance of C. S. Lewis (best known for his works of fiction and non-fiction, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Space Trilogy, and Mere Christianity) and J. R. R. Tolkien (best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion) came from their extensive reading and weekly discussions to push each other to a degree of excellence that was, in many ways, other-worldly.
To write clearly and precisely, we must think clearly and precisely. Writing makes a person exact.
I challenge you to become polymaths and multi-disciplinarians, people with extraordinarily broad and comprehensive knowledge. First, you’ll draft and write one Advantage Story that contains 3 to 12 criteria. Each criteria is an opportunity to create a new product or service. Thus, second, you want to draft and write an Advantage Story for each of these 3 to 12 criteria. Third, you can go deeper in each criteria, creating the opportunity to draft and write a new Advantage Story for each criteria. Fourth, you can continue this for 3 to 12 generations, or levels. By doing so, you will have created an unparalleled Advantage Story that gives you unprecedented opportunity to set the buying criteria in your favor. You will need to discover your purpose to boldly venture this far and to sustain your enthusiasm long enough.
“Rick, this sounds like way too much work. Why bother?” one may ask. I know you’re not asking this. That was meant to be funny. My answer is this: “Business is a game of value. He or she who creates and delivers the most value wins in the marketplace, sustainably.”
From the time I was a kid, my Dad talked much about being a “Renaissance man,” with no gender bias. This shaped me in profound ways. He inspired me to be full, ready, and exact in my subject. And, now it’s time to unpack this in the powerful context of our Advantage Story practice (Practice 7).
I was reminded of this when I knew I was being called to write, but had an enormous amount of resistance. Part of my resistance was the voice in my head that said, “You have the gift of gab, not writing.”
I began declaring, “I am a writer.” This morphed into “I am an author.” Today, this is morphing into “I am one of the most prolific authors in history.”
I want you to say something to yourself. I want you to say this every day for the rest of your life and never miss a day. I want you to commit to this. I want you to say, “I am a genius, and I apply my wisdom.” Say it until you mean it, until every single cell in your body believes it. It’s got to come from the depths of your being.
Language shapes reality.