Yesterday I received an email from someone asking me for my top book recommendations of books that have impacted me and what books I still plan on reading.
And while it would have been easy to give a straight answer, I took a step back and decided not to answer immediately.
Instead, I asked what the reason was behind the question.
Here’s why: While I have no problem with someone wanting to learn or grow themselves, often times what’s needed is not another book (or online course, etc.) but to go deeper into applying what you’ve already learned from previous books.
In other words, the goal should not be to learn more or read more just for the sake of it, but to know what specific questions or challenges you are facing, and then seek out the books that address those challenges.
For example, don’t just read a book about willpower because it just came out and everyone is reading it (or telling you that you should), but rather identify that, say, confidence is the area where you most need to improve and then find the best books out there on confidence.
This is very different from the current masculine approach of entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs seemingly trying to outdo each other in how many books they can read. Claims of reading a book per day are not uncommon.
All that really tells me is that you’re a fast reader. What I care about is how much you’re applying those books in your daily life.
Now don’t get me wrong; I enjoy reading and learning and personally aim to read every day. If you have spare time available, I would choose reading over picking up your phone any day. And I do believe that people who read more are generally more successful, smarter and wealthier than those who don’t.
The challenge comes in when we turn reading into another competition or metric rather than a tool for our development.
See, the success, knowledge and wealth don’t come because you simply read all those books, but because you apply them.
If you want to know how to apply what you’re reading, here’s a simple strategy for doing so:
- Become aware of the specific challenge you’re facing or desired area of improvement.
- Choose a book or two focused on that specific area (be it habits, sales, marketing, willpower, etc.).
- After reading the book, pick 1-3 key insights that stood out for you.
- Turn these insights into action by incorporating them as habits, rituals or reminders in your daily life.
Let’s stop bragging about how many books we’ve read and focus instead on applying those books to make a bigger impact in our lives and the world.
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