Back in my days as a banker I spent one year working at a branch that was a pretty good daily commute. Those daily commutes were when I discovered my love for self-education. I remember listening to a Tony Robbins CD and he said when he was first getting started he read 700 books. I wasn’t a reader but I remember thinking, “If 700 books can get Tony Robbins to where he is, I’m going to read 700 books.” I’ve been an avid reader ever since.
I often think about how I will maximize my benefits of reading. What are the best habits and practices I need to have to get the most out of what I read?
What Am I Reading and Why Am I Reading It?
When I first began reading it was just a race to 700. I was focused on reading books on leadership, management and a variety of different business topic. But I’d finish one, put it on the shelf and start the next one. My thought was that if I can even retain a little from each book, if I read a lot of books, that’s a lot of new knowledge. Looking back I jumped around from topic to topic. Some of the first books I read were: Secrets of Power Negotiating, Good to Great, Raving Fans, and Man’s search For Meaning. I usually chose the books I read because they were mentioned in another book I was reading or someone suggested it. A lot of the time that is how I still choose books today, but I have more intent and focus on what I’m choosing to read now.
When I added Audible to my tools, that really gave me the ability to get through some books. I spend a lot of time on the road and whenever I’m in my truck I have an audio book playing.
Now, when I choose a book to read, I look for something that is applicable to me at the time. A book that I feel will help me in what I’m dealing with in business or life at that moment. I no longer read just to get on to the next book. I read with an intent to learn and apply what I learn in my life.
Learn Less, Study More…
Darren Hardy is an author I enjoy learning from. I remember him saying that we need to “learn less and study more. Learning is not the problem; lack of real study and implementation is.” I spend a lot of time taking about and reviewing things I’ve read with my brother-in-law, Sheldon. He studies Darren Hardy’s work a lot and he brought this topic up with me shortly after I had read it. He made me realize that this is something that would be beneficial to me. After our conversation I made some changes to my reading habits.
I take more time going through a book now to study the content and learn it better. If I find a book I really like, right after I finish reading it I’ll often turn to page one and start over.
I’ll often finish a book and then get it on Audible so I can listen to it as well. Or, if I first listed to it on Audible I’ll listen to it again and/or also get the hard copy to read.
Rather than flying through books now, I spend more time studying what I’m reading. That way, rather than hoping I’ll retain a little from each book, I feel that I can retain a lot more.
Highlight, Mark, Dog Ear
I take pride in my home library. In fact, when I started to use Audible I would often still buy the hard copy of the book so it would be in my library. As my library grew, those books were by pride and joy. I don’t lend my books out because I don’t want them to disappear like the neighbor’s borrowed tools. I keep them in good condition, organized exactly how I want them. I use to want every book in perfect shape. No markings, no dog eared pages. But I have found so much value in learning and accepting the fact that to get the most out of my books I need to mark them up, write in the margins, bend some corners, etc. When I read I have my ruler, my pen and my highlighter with me. They are just as important as having the book.
I find by marking things in the book I remember them better. But I also find that it helps me to find things a lot easier. I’ll often be on a call or in a coaching session when something pops into my mind from something I’ve read. My library is behind my desk and it’s usually quite easy for me to jump up, grab the book and quickly find what I’m looking for.
When it comes to using Audible it’s easy to clip a note in the app and then I’ll add my own notes to the clip.
One of the best ways to learn something is to teach it.
I find that when I read with the intent of teaching I am able to learn the subject matter a lot better. So as you read, whether you are going to have to teach it or not, read it as if you will have to teach it. Learn it well. Learn it good enough to teach it. You’ll find that you’ll know it better, be able to apply what you’ve learned better and you’ll find yourself referring to it more often in conversations.
We had something we called our Education Plan at Kodiak Mountain Stone. We would ask one of our team members to read a specific book and then we would have a team meeting where they would teach what they had learned from the book and how it would be applicable to us in our business and personal lives. The conversations and things that would come out of those meetings were amazing. But it was always the team member that lead the meeting that got the most out of it.
A while ago I read the book Expert Secrets, by Russell Brunson. It was a great book and I loved what I learned from it. I’m preparing for a Mastermind Event coming up soon and knew there were a few things in the book that I wanted to review for it so I could include them in what I would be teaching. As I was going through the chapters that I wanted to review, I was seeing things in a completely different way. The fact that I was going to be teaching some of the concepts and they were a lot more applicable to my current situation, I was understanding things even better. So rather than just review what I was going to need for the Mastermind, I turned to the front of the book and started to read it all again.
Knowledge is useless if you don’t do anything with it. The sooner you can take the things you learn from your reading and apply them to an area of your life, the better you will understand and remember your new knowledge.
Hopefully these are some practices that can help you to get the most out of your reading. Give them a try. I’d love to hear what you think. Leave your comments below!