The Mighty, Miraculous, Magical Pen: The Weekly Mentor by Oliver DeMille


by Oliver DeMille

The Principle

Successful people do things that unsuccessful people don’t. The Pen 1-3

This is a great principle of life, and it applies to many things, from business and finance to relationships and fitness, from health and happiness to education and career.

It also applies to reading.

Specifically, the top leaders, most of whom become dedicated and effective readers, do more than read a book, an article, or a blog.

They read with a purpose—every time.

When they read, they look for personal answers, they read with a pre-planned list of questions, they read to change, and they read with a pen in one hand.

The Power

The pen, actually, does most of these others things for them.

It writes and records goals, purposes, questions, new ideas, needed changes, and nuggets of wisdom, in every book and article. It darts from page to page, marking, highlighting, circling, underlining, and adding the following marks: !, ?, “No!,” “Yes!,” “Really?,” “Find Out,” and “Wow” on page after page, book after book.

The pen asks questions that the reader needs to answer—writing them in the front pages of the book or article.

The pen makes a list of answers, and other important ideas, in the back pages of the book.

On page 34 or 157 the pen writes things like, “Compare this with page 261,” or “Contrast this with Covey’s Habit 3.”

The pen writes at the top of a page: “Copy this story for my son Lance.” At the bottom of another page it writes, “Use this idea in my next speech.

On yet a third page the pen records: “I need to improve my relationship with _______________ by following this advice.”

In fact, this pen isn’t like regular pens. No, this pen is more powerful. In the hands of a good reader, it heals relationships, it inspires those who are struggling, it educates children and youth, it trains up leaders.

All of this is a normal day’s work for the pen—in the hands of a Great Reader.

The Pen 2.2-2The Magic

The pen turns normal reading into Great Reading.

It creates lasting memories, and links ideas like a chain of islands between many books and articles, connecting the reader’s thoughts over the course of weeks, years, and decades.

The pen also links with other readers, who come along later and see what it added to the book. When the owner re-reads a book years later, the pen reminds her of what she thought about last time—or the last three times.

The pen is, literally, mightier than the sword.

Wielded by a Great Reader, or someone practicing to become a Great Reader, it changes lives, moves regular men and women and children to greatness, and turns good people into mighty leaders.

Used right, the pen builds character, families, and communities that strengthen nations and generations.

But to do any of this, the pen must accompany its reader each time he or she picks up a book. Or article.

It must write the reader’s thoughts in the book, a blank page, margins, chapter endings. The pen finds many places to record its wisdom.

But there is more. As powerful as such reading and such a pen can be, the really great parent, teacher, leader, and reader uses the pen to turn reading into a life-changing event for everyone they serve.

Such a pen writes in the margin on page 76 or 125: “Share this quote with Tommy, and tell him how much I want to help him.” Or on page 189: “Lend this book to Jen, and share with her how powerful this story was in my life—and that I immediately thought of her when I read it.”

Great Readers use the pen, each time they read.

With the pen in their hands, the book becomes wiser, better, more effective, more important.

And the result is often pure magic.

The Pen 3-3The Miracle

With all this, there is even more.

The greatest miracle occurs in a very interesting way, when a parent, mentor, or other leader sits with a student or learner and teaches him how to use the pen.

  • First, learn to do it yourself by practicing, each and every time you read. Write, mark, circle, question…
  • Then, turn it into magic by using the pen to serve, lead, and help others. Add your wisdom to the author’s, and make the book even better than when you first picked it up.
  • Finally, create a true miracle. Teach a student or youth to become a Great Reader, learner, thinker and leader—by reading with and using the incredible power of the pen.

The pen is for everyone. Nobody should be without it.

It knights every user who will pick it up and put it to use. All are nobles with the pen in their hand. All can slay dragons, build castles, inspire kingdoms to nobility and rise to greatness using the pen.

The pen doesn’t discriminate. It sees the greatness in every person—unique, potential, powerful.

The pen is available to the poorest and the richest, the happiest and the most in pain. Pick up the pen.

MIC-badgeA normal pen can be found almost everywhere, and it can be turned into a great pen very easily. Use the pen. Use it again.

The power will come, the magic will happen, the miracles will flow—to all who simply open a book and use the pen.

For more techniques and skills of great reading, I highly recommend the excellent book Turn the Page, with Introduction by Chris Brady.

Join Oliver for Mentoring in the Classics >>

About the Author:

Rachel is the co-author of Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning and the audio series Core and Love of Learning: A Recipe for Success, and the author of the award-winning educational resource, This Week in History. She is an accomplished musician, writer, literary editor, public speaker, consultant and momschool organizer.


  1. Dr. Janice DeMille April 24, 2014 at 8:47 am - Reply

    Wow! I thought I was the only one who did this.

  2. sue maxwell April 24, 2014 at 9:00 am - Reply

    Wow- that is remarkable- thank you, Oliver!

  3. Roslyn Reynolds Geertsen April 24, 2014 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Oliver, I’ve had the opportunity to read books and articles that were previously read by my children when they were students of yours. What you wrote here is true – I learned so much more by reading their notes in the margins and between the lines than I would have by reading a new copy of the book. It also let me see into their souls a bit more, and to see the greatness I might have missed otherwise. Thank you, for teaching them, and in turn, teaching me such a powerful tool.

  4. Natalie April 24, 2014 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    I like this article very much…It is nice that people get rid of their classics so readily- many times I find them mostly unused though old at a thrift store for a few dollars. Also it makes it even more of a treasure to be able to write in it. I have also found that writing in a book or on an article helps me to be an active participant in the idea and the article.

  5. Kim Simmerman April 25, 2014 at 7:58 am - Reply

    My daughters (15, and 13) read the book, Turn the Page, and our home has been forever changed. Now when I read, one of them hands me a pen,”Mom, how are you going to become great unless you write in your books?” Our dinner table discussions and their late night talks (I’m asleep) are rather revolutionary. All because of ball point and a willing hand. Thank you.

  6. Morgan Travis April 25, 2014 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    Love It! Thank you. My children see me writing in my books so my 5 year old son likes to write in his books too! I think that is wonderful!

  7. Easton Kelsey April 29, 2014 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    Kim… Where can people find the book you referred to ” Turn the Page”?

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