Books have been my greatest mentors. My personal “search for meaning” initiated with Dr. Victor Frankl and culminated with Charlie “Tremendous” Jones.
For more than 50 years, Charlie was on a mission to help people improve their lives through reading. His worlds of wisdom touched my life. Getting people to read quality books that have the power to change lives has become my personal passion. In his book, Life is Tremendous, Charlie wrote that there are three great decisions in life:
3 Great Decisions
- Who are you going to live your life with?
- What are you going to live your life in?
- And what are you going to live your life for?
Who are you going to live your life with?
What are you going to live your life in?
And what are you going to live your life for?
I was 17 when I decided to settle in America, 27 when I asked a beauty queen doctoral student in Nashville to be my wife (Thank God she agreed!), and 37 when I discovered my calling to promote literacy. I believe that illiteracy is the greatest evil that confronts mankind. It creates darkness from within, a cancer of dis-empowerment, scarcity, despair, and anger. But knowledge overcomes all.
In his book, It Takes Less Than One Minute to Suit Up for The Lord, Dr. Ken Blanchard wrote of learning as “spend(ing) more time lighting candles than cursing the darkness.” We all have the great God-given ability to educate ourselves – to acquire the gift of learning. Knowledge is the lost treasure that we must all strive to recover. In this context, I like to see myself as a Rag Picker of sorts, straight from Og Mandino’s The Greatest Miracle in the World. I decided that I should spend my life wrapping the gift of learning with enthusiasm.
In his novel, The Ultimate Gift, Jim Stovall dedicated a chapter to this “gift of learning.” He wrote, “Education is a lifelong journey whose destination expands as you travel.” I believe that God has endowed us with the tremendous capabilities of learning, thinking, communicating, understanding, and creating. He has blessed us with the powerful tools for acquiring knowledge and understanding via hearing, sight, and wisdom. Education transforms us into active, independent, creative learners and enables us to fulfill our purpose in life and do good in service to humanity. Knowledge is the ultimate freedom. Knowledge trumps all other possessions in life — wealth, health, power — and should be pursued as a commandment from God.
The great Victorian-age philosopher Thomas Carlyle wrote, “What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books.” I am so grateful for the great books I have read. One of these was Gifted Hands by Dr. Benjamin Carson, one of the top pediatric neurosurgeons in the world and winner of the Presidental Medal of Freedom. Like Charlie “Tremendous” Jones he is also a great advocate for God and books. He wrote, “I emphasize that active learning from reading is better than passive learning such as listening to lectures or watching television. When you read, your mind must work by taking in letters and connecting them to form words. Words make themselves into thoughts and concepts. Developing good reading habits is something like being a champion weightlifter. The champion didn’t go into the gym one day and start lifting 500 pounds. He toned his muscles beginning with lighter weights, always building up, preparing for more. It’s the same thing with intellectual feats. We develop our minds by reading, by thinking, by figuring out things for ourselves.”
So, dear reader, I invite you to step up your reading. Read! Reading is magic. It is the spark that ignites the cylinders of thinking and powers the engine of expression and creation which propels our lives forward. Give your mind a carefully selected diet of books which inspire, motivate and educate – that sow positive thoughts, the seeds of abundance and happiness in your life. Read to Succeed. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones used to say, “You are today who you’ll be five years from now, except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Master the art of “Being Tremendous.”