My wife just got back from a business trip and showed me a book on nutrition that she had picked up while she was gone. As I thumbed through the pages, noting the many sections I want to go read, I was reminded what a bargain books are.
A book represents access to the author’s knowledge, experience, ideas, and creativity that likely took them significant time and money to acquire. Yet we can have access to their insights for just a few dollars and a few hours of our time. Think about that; what took someone a lifetime to learn, we can benefit from for a fraction of the cost. That’s a bargain!
Regardless of whether the format is audio, electronic or old-school paper pages, there isn’t a topic I can think of that books won’t help us do better.
What are you currently working to improve in your personal or professional life? I’ll bet there’s a good book on the topic to help you go further in that area. As such, we should see books not as purchases, but rather as investments we make in ourselves; investments that have the potential to offer positive disproportional returns.
For the last few years I’ve struggled with how I can remember all the great knowledge, insight, and wisdom I read in books. Sure, I make notes and mark up the pages I read, but isn’t there a better system for cataloging all the great information I read in the course of a year? Lately, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been asking the wrong question.
Instead of focusing on how I can recall the information I read, what would happen if instead I continued to fill my mind with good ideas, thoughts, and perspectives, and let them influence my thinking?
When I think about it, I really don’t need to get better at recalling information. That’s Google’s job! Instead, I should be focusing on how I can improve my thinking a little bit every day. To do that, I’ve started to approach reading as a treasure hunt for good thoughts and ideas. It’s pretty easy to identify them, as they often leap off the page. The question then becomes what do I do with these good ideas once I’ve identified them?
Once I’ve been exposed to a new thought or idea, the best way I know to make use of it is to immediately start thinking where in my life I can apply it. Underlining or highlighting it in the book and then moving on with the reading doesn’t really help solidify it. You have to allow time to think or journal about the idea and its application in specific areas of your life. This will cause the idea to take root and become part of your thought process; a new tool in your “thinking tool belt” that will influence how you think in the future.
I love the quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes that states,
“The human mind, once stretched to a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions.”
Instead of reading to simply acquire more knowledge, let’s start focusing on collecting and applying ideas that will improve our thought process and mindset over the long term.
And think about this: How much would your thinking improve in 1 year if you read just one book a month and from each book gleaned and applied 2 good ideas?
Let’s find out!