Friday, September 2, 2016

3 Steps To HUGE Person Growth

(One of my bookshelves at home)
We've all heard the saying.  "Leaders are readers and readers are leaders."  Well, it's mostly true.  Maybe you could substitute the word "reader" for "learner", but the concept holds true.  Here's the part that bothers me, though. On average, I have the same conversation with leaders about three times per week.  It goes like this.

Me: "Do you like to read?"
You: "Oh yes, I love reading."
Me: "Me too.  What have you read lately?"
You: "Uh, well, I've really been meaning to start reading.  I know I should, but . . . "

You can fill in the excuse.  Look, I know that everyone doesn't love reading and I get that the amount of reading you do will vary, depending on the season of life you're currently in.  So, please hear me loud and clear.  This is not written to induce guilt on you if you're not reading.  This is meant to challenge your excuses and get you reading if you truly do want to become a reader.  Also, I'm not talking about reading romance novels here.  If that's your thing, more power to you, but I'm talking about reading that actually challenges you to grow.

Here are 3 simple steps that can get your reading.

1.  Escape the comparison trap.  It seems like most of us who are not reading much seem to feel guilty about it, especially when we run into some guy talking about how he reads a book a week.  A book a week!?  You'd be happy to read one this year, right?  Well, that's really the crux of it all, isn't it?  Consider this.  A good reading goal for you may not resemble anyone else's reading goal.  One of the most surefire ways to sabotage yourself is to set unrealistic goals.  Maybe book-a-week guy really does read that much (or maybe he's a dirty liar), but whatever the case, you can't compare yourself to him.  He may be a single dude with unbelievable amounts of time to spare and you may be a mom working full time with three kids.  Not exactly apples to apples.  Get real about what you can do.  Did you know that you can read 12-20 books per year if you set aside just 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week?  I'm serious.  Imagine how much you'll grow in the next year if you read 12 books!  Heck, if you're not reading at all, imagine how much different you'll be if you read just 3?  Don't get tripped up on what someone else does.  If you do better this year than you did last, that's growth and that's the goal.

2.  Build a reading list around your goals.  I'm assuming you have goals.  If you don't, you should.  There are too many people you could be helping in this world.  So, don't be so lazy as to not work toward some goals in your life.  Your goals are not just about you.  If you don't have any goals, presently, read here to get some help setting some goals.  Now, once you have goals set, consider building a reading list around those goals.  For 2016, I set goals in six key areas of my life.  I chose two books for each area and made those 12 books my reading list for the year.  My wife got me a Fitbit for Christmas last year.  It was really thoughtful, but it didn't really help me much.  So, I returned it to Amazon and bought my twelve books instead.  Once I'm finished with one, I just pick out the next one.  It's not the only system you can use, but it's a great place to start if you have no plan.

3.  Use simple technology to help you.  I'm not saying you need to go and buy a ton of tech to be a reader.  Personally, I prefer a hardcover book with a pen and a highlighter.  But, I bet you own a smartphone.  (I only have one friend, that I know of, who still uses an old flip-phone.)  So, assuming you have a smartphone, let me suggest two free apps that can be a world of help.  
  • First is an app that plays audiobooks - maybe i-books or Audible.  Granted, audiobooks aren't for everyone, but if you can absorb them and learn that way, you can redeem a whole lot of time in the car.  Or on the treadmill.  Or on a plane.  You get the idea, right?  Of the 16 books I've read so far this year, two have been audiobooks.  I finished one in a single day on a car trip to Dallas and back.  How do I know how many books I've read so far?  Glad you asked.  That brings me to the #2 app that can really help you get reading.  
  • GoodReads is a free app that lets you create different reading lists, add books to them just by searching them in the app, track your progress (by%) and leave ratings and reviews for the books you've read.  Over the last few years, I've tried several different ways of creating my "want to read" list.  I've kept lists in Evernote.  I've tried to do a paper list.  I created a Google Doc for it, but nothing works like GoodReads.  The search, list, and progress features are all in one place.  If you've taken the steps to decide what you'll read, GoodReads can keep you on track.  Oh, and you can also be friends with other people with GoodReads accounts.  You can see what they are reading and all that good stuff.  Look me up  - Jason Fitch.  I'd love to see what you're into.
One more thought.  I often hear people say something like this.  "I usually only read the first couple chapters of a book. After that, it's all a repeat anyway."  How arrogant.  I get this is true in a small percentage of books, but here's the truth.  In this case, you've either chosen your book very poorly or unwilling to press in and engage the deeper learnings. Either way, it's your fault, so get over yourself.  If the book is worth starting, it's worth finishing.  In the rare instances this is not true, just move on. There's no need to act like every book out there can't keep the attention of your brilliant intellect.  You're not that good.

Well, I hope these thoughts are helpful to you.  Please share some practical ways you've gotten yourself on the path to growth through reading.  I'm looking forward to hearing what you've done!

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