learning for growth

Learning for Growth: Ditching Books on Your Personal Journey

Are you really going to finish that book you started reading? I know it sounded interesting when you started, and I know you want to learn more. After a week of reading though, you’re only 5% through. How do people speed through books in a day or two? It’s nuts. At this rate, you’ll never finish. And didn’t you stop reading that last book because this one caught your eye and you didn’t want to wait? How many unread books can one person have!? This is almost embarrassing.

No judgements. Promise. This is my inner dialogue nearly every time I’m working through a book, and it’s not the reading I want. It’s the learning from it. It’s the growth. While I still read, it’s a lot less (and a lot less judgy) than years previous. Atomic Habits sums up my point of view nicely:

Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally, bad habits make time your enemy.

James Clear

The irony isn’t lost on me. I just quoted a book after putting down reading, but it’s about to get worse since at least one of my techniques is even more effort than slogging through yet another book. I promise though that most are micro in size in your quest for growth. So let’s get to it:

  • Read a blog post a day. Log into LinkedIn and start scanning your feed. Once you run into an article that catches your eye, click on it, read through, and consider today’s learning complete.
  • Forget music as you drive. Podcasts are where it’s at. My favorites are those in the Freakonomics series. There’s so much to borrow from other fields of work so listen to something random but interesting. You’ll be surprised how often you can bring that learning into your own domain. (Many of you will point out that you can listen to books as you drive. That works too.)
  • If you must read, timebox it and make micro-reading the goal. That way it’s no longer about finishing books but about getting in a few reps of growth. Put a recurring task on your to do list or time on your calendar. Time box it to 15 minutes. When you hit the 15 minute mark, stop immediately and get back to your busy day. Don’t have 15 minutes? Then measure how much time you’re spending on time sinks like social media and reconsider. Maybe 10 minutes a day is a better fit.
  • Decorate your mind palace. In other words, preserve your learning. Post a thought on LinkedIn daily or weekly. Link an article on the platform that others might find interesting. If you do read books, read on a Kindle and highlight passages that resonate. In all those cases, you can return to your feed or the cloud to remind yourself of important passages or learnings. It’s even come in handy for me with this this blog post and also this one.
  • Set your own BHAGs. That stands for big, hairy audacious goal. Mine are always in the spirit of learning, and I always ensure they’re something super interesting to me. I also oscillate between personal and professional BHAGs. For example, earning my pilot’s license was a personal goal I achieve in 2019. Then I pivoted to earning my coaching credentials. Now, it’s learning Spanish since our adopted girl is Hispanic, and I want to teach her words and phrases. (Her current favorite is “no me gusta!”)

So are you up for a new ways to grow yourself? Try one or two of the techniques here and let me know how it goes in the comments below. See you all again soon.

Oh! And just as I was putting the final touches on this blog post, I ran into something from The Washington Post titled, “Is that unread book making you feel guilty? You’re not alone.” Check it out. It seems I’m in good company.

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