Reader Deanna Gamez writes: I see you’re an expert at reading books and implementing them. You wrote about how you do this in the October 2009 issue of SUCCESS, “Accomplish More by Doing Less.” Your third tip was to learn less, study more and you gave a general idea of your method for studying books. Could you please expand on that subject?
There is a significant difference between learning and improving.
The difference is results.
Have you ever been to a seminar, listened to an audio program or read a book that promised life transforming results in 90 days or less… and it didn’t happen?
It wasn’t that the material didn’t work; YOU didn’t do the work. It’s not what you learn; it’s what you DO with what you learn. Doing has to follow learning.
Knowing what to do is not the same as doing what you know. There are a lot of people who read all the books (or blogs!) and go to all the seminars, but their life never improves. The world is filled with broke geniuses.
“There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” – Morpheus, The Matrix
I will walk you through my process of how I turn learning into study and study into improvement/results.
I break my yearly goal achievement plans into four quarterly themes. In each quarter I focus on a particular area of my life or skill I want to improve (e.g., marriage, health, keynote speaking, interviewing, etc.).
I research online and reach out to my personal network for recommendations on the best resources for improving that discipline or skill.
I then buy the top 5 books, the top 3 audio programs and sign up for (at least) one seminar on that topic during that quarter.
Action: Pick a skill you want to study and implement the 5-3-1 program now.
I don’t just read a book—I consume it. When I am done with the book it looks as if it’s been through a meat grinder.
I will underline, circle, star, inscribe bolded exclamation marks, dogear, highlight, put sticky tabs all over it and write notes in the margins, at the end of chapters and in the back of the book.
Don’t treat a book like a piece of fragile museum art—treat it like a workbook. Make your mark in it. A book is meant to be used, not just viewed.
Action: Don’t attempt to do everything suggested in the book. Reduce the book down to the best three ideas for you. Now pick one idea that you will implement this week. Write what it is and set a time to review the results a week later. Practice that idea for a few weeks until you have mastered it or it has produced the results you sought, then (maybe) pick another idea and practice it for another week to three weeks.
If all you did was implement, measure, review and improve upon one idea from every book you read your results would improve dramatically. I think you would be surprised how little impact all your learning has had on your life up until now.
Process: To fully squeeze all the benefit from the book, I go back through the book and pull out all the notes, highlights and underlined key points and transfer them to my Knowledge Bank. My Knowledge Bank consists of a document system organized by topic (leadership, sales, fitness, nutrition, communication, etc.). This is why I have virtually unlimited access to the best ideas because I have every key idea I have ever studied, thought or discovered organized by topic.
I load the entire program into my car system. I will listen to an audio program (if I like it the first run through) at least five to six times. This is a key point. A single run-through will have very little impact. Each time you will hear it differently as will be thinking and experiencing different things in your life.
It is better to listen to a single program that you like over and over again (deepening your experience), than it is to move on to the next program (shallow impact). I’ve mentioned before that I have listened to Jim Rohn’s Challenge to Succeed program 50 to 60 times. I have it in my car right now. This is why I recommend, if you liked The Compound Effect audio program I recommend listening to it at least five to six times over so you don’t just hear it, but it seeps into your consciousness.
Action: The same as a book—best three ideas from entire program and one idea implemented, reviewed and improved upon this week.
Process: As I am listening to it in my car, when a key point comes up or I get an idea I use my iPhone to audio-record that quote or idea. Later I will process those notes and transfer them into the appropriate files in my Knowledge Bank.
All my seminar notes go in my journal, not the materials given at the seminar. One of the most important tips I can give you about attending and benefiting from seminars is to pay attention to what great ideas are being delivered from stage, but also what ideas well up inside of you. There is an incredible dynamic that happens when you enter an environment of higher-minded learning with hundreds of active participants. It creates an elevated environment that will stimulate your own inner creativity. Pay attention and document what ideas surface for you, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with what is being discussed on stage. The ideas that arise from within you can be the best benefits you will gain from the seminar.
Action:Same action plan as a book or audio program—best three ideas and the implementation of one this week.
Process: Transfer the notes from your journal into the files of your Knowledge Bank.
Mastery is the study of the one-percents. Look for the little distinctions and the little improvements in the areas you desire improvement.
Study – focus your areas to improve.
Extract – pick out 3 best ideas.
Act – implement one now.
Measure – track improvement.
Improve – adjust, practice and act again with improvements.
Further thoughts or ideas—please comment below. Also, if you have questions you would like me to address in a future blog post, leave those below too.<