Reading teaches me the answers to problems I haven’t had yet, or to problems I didn’t even know how to describe.*
“Set!” comes between “On your marks!” and BANG! (or Go!).
“On your marks!” is about being in the right place at the right time, but it doesn’t mean we’re necessarily “Set!” which is about having the wherewithal to go when called upon.
Reading isn’t the only way to be set, but it’s a big one** – or equivalents: podcasts, TEDtalks, MOOCs, etc. I think that everyone has a book in them, though, so conversations with interesting people is also a great way to be “Set!,” also running with ideas and experimenting and reflecting.
As we turn up to do these things each day, we may even find that we don’t have to wait for anyone else the fire the starter’s gun.
(*Alexander Chee’s letter to young readers from Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick’s A Velocity of Being.)
(**I’ve recently replenished my shelves with the following books:
Together (Richard Sennett)
The Power of Full Engagement (Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz)
Understanding Comics (Scott Macleod)
Born For This (Chris Guillebeau)
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (Walter Benjamin)
Deep Work (Cal Newport)
The Idea in You (Martin Amor and Alex Pellew)
Centering (M. C. Richards).)