I try to share as much as I can with you on strategies, experiences and things that have helped me along the way. Both in my life and my career. It’s a way to chronicle my own journey and thoughts and as a way to help you on your own journey. Something you can read weekly to improve and bring value to your life and career.
You can pretty much skip this whole post if you want. Because everything I am about to write is to encourage you to do 1 thing. And that’s to read & apply that knowledge consistently. Whether that’s a book, some blogs or some articles. Take the time to read & execute. That’s it simple stuff. It’s a gift that I wish to pass on.
It’s nothing new, but I wish someone had encouraged me to read a bit more years ago. I let my growth be purely dictated by only what was in front of me - clocking in at my day job and dealing with whatever life went my way. I was reactive as opposed to being proactive with my curiosity. When you are forced to read in school it sucks, but when you read things that are of interest it brings about great change. If you have reading difficulties – short attention spans or dyslexia try audiobooks.
Whatever area of your life you are looking to improve, to understand more about, or to be inspired by in times of need, struggle, hope, growth or inspiration – there is a book or a post out there that can help you on your journey. There is a guide reaching out to you – as if to say here is the path that you wish to pursue, here is the wisdom that I(the author/writer) have learnt walking this path, look deeply and you may find the answer you are looking for. And if not you will at least know the questions that you will need to ask.
And then from here the ball is in your court.
This information resides with you now. Hoarding information for the sake of information is not going to bring about any extra meaning or value to your life.
Knowledge is a commodity. The order and sequence in which to apply a strategy is what separates those who succeed from those who fail.
So the goal of reading for growth (not purely entertainment), is for you to gain understanding, insight, and for you to have the tools required to execute.
Books and reading articles are great because they consistently deliver the following:
1. They make me believe that something is possible. If I’m reading a biography I can extrapolate and go deep on all the nuances of someone's life and journey. Years of experience and wisdom is broken down, for you to dissect, absorb and try to understand.
2. It allows me to break down a framework or strategy that I can implement. These are more practical how to guides and books. And the lessons that I find within I try implement immediately or at least consistently.
3. It allows me to compare, validate and challenge my thinking and mindset, along with my trajectory in life. These are books and articles that drastically give me mindset shifts and keeps me in check with whether or not I am on the right path.
My own reading style and strategy is to operate and go deep in my sphere of competencies. Nearly everything I read or learn exists in this sphere. Self help, philosophy, design, technology, business. There is too much information out there, so if I read within this sphere I can gain deeper knowledge and insight in each of these topics. If I expanded too far I find the information to be spread too thin.
I feel that each of these areas helps me become a better person, helps me become a better designer, a better husband, father, friend, mentor – and helps me with the 3 things that I predicate all my actions and life around. Happiness, Freedom and Contribution. These are my north stars.
Reading gives you an edge. It helps you to become a more rounded person, but also gives you a unique viewpoint and set of skillsets that can make you extremely successful.
Here is a great strategy to become extremely successful and even world class at something. This is shared by Scott Adams the creator of Dilbert in Tim Ferris's book Tools of Titans. I’m paraphrasing here, but the lesson is you have 2 options to become successful.
1. Become the best at 1 specific thing
2. Become very good(Top 25%) at 2 or more things
Option 1. Is possible but it is achieved by a very small fraction of the population. No matter how much training you get you won’t necessarily become a Michael Jordan, Roger Federer or Jimi Hendrix.
Option 2. As noted by Adams himself is another great route, which has a higher chance for success – Adams say he can draw better than most people, but hardly considers himself an artist. And he is not funnier than the average stand-up comedian who doesn’t make it big, but he is funnier than most people. The magic he is says is that few people can draw well and write jokes. And yet it is this unique combination that has allowed him to a be world class creator through the creation of Dilbert.
“Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. You make yourself rare by combining two or more ‘pretty goods’ until no one else has your mix.”
I really subscribe to this notion, personally I don’t think I’m that great of a designer, writer or independent maker. But it’s a combination of the 3 that gives me a unique viewpoint and allows me to make and execute things that are unique and of value. It’s being able to join those disparate fields and dots that creates a completely new category of work. One in which you can be the best at.
And reading and executing is the best way to accelerate this process.
As a friend, mentor and some guy on the internet that wishes you nothing but the best – please start reading. It will expand your thinking (and in turn your personal potential), skill-set and outlook. It’s something I wish I was more proactive with years ago.
Finally the right book or article at the right time can change your life.
When the student is ready the teacher appears.