Fiction, like religion, takes us to a strange world to which we nevertheless feel a connection.
To enter another person’s world, to see things as they see them, to allow for different reactions to similar circumstances is to connect with people in a powerful way. Such empathy, compassion, and insight are essential for succeeding as a leader, salesperson, or an executive coach and to living a fulfilling life.
Reading the stories of people in circumstances different from your own is entertaining exercise that develops this important skill. Good novels offer intimate and immersive experiences of worlds most business people never encounter, yet the practice they offer with escaping our own narrow versions of reality can help us to be more receptive to the various worlds of the people we manage and sell to every day. [For more on individual worlds, see The Santiago Theory of Cognition on this blog.]
See these recommended novels on my blog:
Closers: Great American Writers on the Art of Selling
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values
When the Sons of Heaven Meet the Daughters of the Earth
Spidertown by Abraham Rodriguez, Jr.
Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Tale of Wall Street
And, of course, the one I wrote:
Crimes of Cunning: A comedy of personal and political transformation in the deteriorating American workplace.