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Modeling and Pestering

People often ask me where my obsession with reading started. I can say without hesitation that it comes from my parents, and that they had two primary techniques: modeling and pestering.

The modeling, which my mom was almost entirely responsible for, went something like this: she was always reading. When she had a spare moment, when we were at the beach, when we were on an airplane, on vacation, she read. All the time. I knew in the back of my head that my father had to have read at some point, since he had two Master’s degrees and I was pretty sure you couldn’t even get out of High School without reading, but I didn’t see him read much. He had a different technique.

My father relentlessly pestered me to read. This took the form of intervening in any situation where I wasn’t reading, and, you know…suggesting otherwise. As a thank you to him, and to illustrate my point, I thought I’d share one particular form of his pestering that stuck with me for this long.

While many parents shared the common love of a sports team with their children, hanging the posters of the baseball or football team in their rooms, my father, one day, did his own version of this. It was 1992, and I was 12 years old. I was resting during the day in my room when my dad knocked on the door. He had in his hands a freshly printed, accordion folded pile of dot matrix paper. I groaned, recognizing it as something lame he had printed in PrintShop that he wanted to hang on my wall. It was just that. He unfurled the poster, which read, simply:

“Just Do It”

Not as in, achieve your sports goal or become president of the United States. In this case, Just Do It meant specifically, every time you don’t want to keep reading, look up at this sign, and keep going. In other words:

“Just Do It”

A pretty simple message, but hey - it worked.

I don’t know if I would have continued on with my dedication to reading if I didn’t have both the modeling and the pestering, but if you’re looking for inspiration, I thought one more data point couldn’t hurt.