How To Read With a Purpose

Back in my days as a banker I spent one year working at a branch that was a pretty good daily commute. Those daily commutes were when I discovered my love for self-education. I remember listening to a Tony Robbins CD and he said when he was first getting started he read 700 books. I wasn’t a reader but I remember thinking, “If 700 books can get Tony Robbins to where he is, I’m going to read 700 books.” I’ve been an avid reader ever since.

 I often think about how I will maximize my benefits of reading. What are the best habits and practices I need to have to get the most out of what I read?


What Am I Reading and Why Am I Reading It?

When I first began reading it was just a race to 700. I was focused on reading books on leadership, management and a variety of different business topic. But I’d finish one, put it on the shelf and start the next one. My thought was that if I can even retain a little from each book, if I read a lot of books, that’s a lot of new knowledge. Looking back I jumped around from topic to topic. Some of the first books I read were: Secrets of Power NegotiatingGood to GreatRaving Fans, and Man’s search For Meaning. I usually chose the books I read because they were mentioned in another book I was reading or someone suggested it. A lot of the time that is how I still choose books today, but I have more intent and focus on what I’m choosing to read now. 

When I added Audible to my tools, that really gave me the ability to get through some books. I spend a lot of time on the road and whenever I’m in my truck I have an audio book playing. 

Now, when I choose a book to read, I look for something that is applicable to me at the time. A book that I feel will help me in what I’m dealing with in business or life at that moment. I no longer read just to get on to the next book. I read with an intent to learn and apply what I learn in my life.

Learn Less, Study More…

Darren Hardy is an author I enjoy learning from. I remember him saying that we need to “learn less and study more. Learning is not the problem; lack of real study and implementation is.” I spend a lot of time taking about and reviewing things I’ve read with my brother-in-law, Sheldon. He studies Darren Hardy’s work a lot and he brought this topic up with me shortly after I had read it. He made me realize that this is something that would be beneficial to me. After our conversation I made some changes to my reading habits. 

I take more time going through a book now to study the content and learn it better. If I find a book I really like, right after I finish reading it I’ll often turn to page one and start over. 

I’ll often finish a book and then get it on Audible so I can listen to it as well. Or, if I first listed to it on Audible I’ll listen to it again and/or also get the hard copy to read. 

Rather than flying through books now, I spend more time studying what I’m reading. That way, rather than hoping I’ll retain a little from each book, I feel that I can retain a lot more.

Highlight, Mark, Dog Ear

I take pride in my home library. In fact, when I started to use Audible I would often still buy the hard copy of the book so it would be in my library. As my library grew, those books were by pride and joy. I don’t lend my books out because I don’t want them to disappear like the neighbor’s borrowed tools. I keep them in good condition, organized exactly how I want them. I use to want every book in perfect shape. No markings, no dog eared pages. But I have found so much value in learning and accepting the fact that to get the most out of my books I need to mark them up, write in the margins, bend some corners, etc. When I read I have my ruler, my pen and my highlighter with me.  They are just as important as having the book.

I find by marking things in the book I remember them better. But I also find that it helps me to find things a lot easier. I’ll often be on a call or in a coaching session when something pops into my mind from something I’ve read. My library is behind my desk and it’s usually quite easy for me to jump up, grab the book and quickly find what I’m looking for. 

When it comes to using Audible it’s easy to clip a note in the app and then I’ll add my own notes to the clip. 

When I read a quote that I like I’ll often add it to my blog as well. At JeffHeggie.com each Tuesday I post my “Book Quote of the Week.” I also add many of them to my Instagram page, www.instagram.com/entrepreneur.next.door/

Teach What You Learn

One of the best ways to learn something is to teach it. 

I find that when I read with the intent of teaching I am able to learn the subject matter a lot better. So as you read, whether you are going to have to teach it or not, read it as if you will have to teach it. Learn it well. Learn it good enough to teach it. You’ll find that you’ll know it better, be able to apply what you’ve learned better and you’ll find yourself referring to it more often in conversations. 

We had something we called our Education Plan at Kodiak Mountain Stone. We would ask one of our team members to read a specific book and then we would have a team meeting where they would teach what they had learned from the book and how it would be applicable to us in our business and personal lives. The conversations and things that would come out of those meetings were amazing. But it was always the team member that lead the meeting that got the most out of it.

A while ago I read the book Expert Secrets, by Russell Brunson. It was a great book and I loved what I learned from it. I’m preparing for a Mastermind Event coming up soon and knew there were a few things in the book that I wanted to review for it so I could include them in what I would be teaching. As I was going through the chapters that I wanted to review, I was seeing things in a completely different way. The fact that I was going to be teaching some of the concepts and they were a lot more applicable to my current situation, I was understanding things even better. So rather than just review what I was going to need for the Mastermind, I turned to the front of the book and started to read it all again.

Application

Knowledge is useless if you don’t do anything with it. The sooner you can take the things you learn from your reading and apply them to an area of your life, the better you will understand and remember your new knowledge.

Hopefully these are some practices that can help you to get the most out of your reading. Give them a try. I’d love to hear what you think. Send me your comments in the form below!

You can check out my reading list HERE

Thanks

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You Can Do Hard Things

An Excerpt, with some minor edits, from a note I was sending someone hoping to help them in a tough spot. I wanted to share it here as well, just in case someone reads it that could gain something from it.

You have been searching for answers and feel that you are not getting them. I can promise you that there will be a day when you look back on this time and will be able to see blessings that you cannot see now. You will be able to see where His hand was guiding you. You will understand the Why. Why you had to go through this trial. Why it wasn’t easier. And that is how you will make a difference in the world for many, many people. There are people near you that need you now. There are people nowhere close to you now that are going to need you. Everyone is dealing with their own struggles and challenges and they need help. Most can’t be helped by someone that has the book smarts on the struggle. But the person who can make a difference, the person who can change their life, the person who can save them is the one who has been there. The one who has been in their shoes and has conquered that challenge. My friend lost a baby boy and a brother in a short period. Nobody could really help her through those difficult times that hadn’t been through something similar. But now, she can take those tragic experiences and help many others going through their own tragic times. I often recall an old Young Woman’s theme, “I can do hard things.” Every hard thing that you have pushed yourself through, whether it was in a relationship, a sport, in business or something else has prepared you for something you will go through and deal with at some point in the future. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” You’ve been through hard things in the past and it has strengthened you. You are going to go through hard things throughout your life and they will continue to strengthen you. Right now may be the hardest thing that you have had to deal with up to this point of your life. You can do it. You will grow from it. You are amazing. YOU are going to make a difference in the world!

Day Before Vacation Productivity

Last week I was talking to someone about work and an upcoming vacation he had planned. He expressed to me how productive his week had been because he knew what he had to accomplish before he could leave on vacation. It made me think of a post I had written back in 2013. After reading it again this morning I thought I would post it again. It was a copy of an email that I had sent out to my team:

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Team,

We have talked a lot about productivity and time management over the past year.  We have included it in our education meetings, I’ve sent our Dave Ramsey podcast and we’ve included it in our Monday morning meetings.

Last night I witnessed something that got me thinking about this again.  Tia had just finished practicing piano and was sitting at the table looking very stressed.  Tammy asked her what was stressing her out. From there the floodgates opened up and out came all the things she had to get done in the next few days with some tight deadlines: French test, write a paper about her experience in Africa, create a video to use at the piano recital, pepare to present in front of the Rotary Club,  basketball practice and… That was when Tammy stepped in.  She said she needed Tia to list out all of the things she needed to get done and the deadlines for each.  She also needed to figure out which ones she could have help on and who could help her.  Wow, this was starting to sound like real life Ramsey!
This got me thinking about our buddy Zig Ziglar and his “Day before vacation” teachings.
Zig asks the following questions:
  1. As a general rule, on the day before you go on vacation, do you get two or three times as much work done as you normally get done in a day?
  2. If you can learn why you are that much more productive on the day before vacation, and then repeat that process on a daily basis without working any longer or harder, does it make sense that you will be more valuable to yourself, your family, your company, and society in general?
  3. On the night before the day before vacation, do you take a sheet of paper and say to yourself, “Now tomorrow I’ve got to do…,” and then make a list of things you must do?… In its simplest form, that’s goal setting and it’s critical.  Next, did you organize your must-do list in the order of importance and accept responsibility for competing those tasks?
The day before we leave on vacation Tammy and I both have our to-do lists.  On that day both work related and non-work related things get completed efficiently.  This all happens because you have a deadline and you need to focus to get things done.  This is what Tia is going to experience over the next few days.  Her French test, the Rotary presentation, piano recital and all the other things coming up are going to happen if she’s ready or not.  So she needs to focus and prioritize to make sure she does well at all of them.
Going back to Zig and his day before vacation example, he says: “On the way to work the next day your self-talk was upbeat and centered on what you were going to get done.  You arrived at work on time so you were punctual. You immediately started to work, making you a self-starter.  You were highly motivated and optimistic that you were going to finish every tak you had set for yourself.  You were enthusiastic about your work and decisively moved from one task to the next, making good choices as you did so, even if the next job on the list was disagreeable.”
I love his example related to unpleasant tasks. “An ol’ boy down home said it best, “Friend, if you’ve got to swallow a frog, you just don’t want to look at the sucker too long.  He ain’t gonna get no purtier!  As a matter of act, the longer you look, the uglier he gets.” That’s the way unpleasant tasks are.”
“As you move from task to task, if someone tried to interrupt and talk about last night’s television program or last night’s game, you disciplined yourself to stay on task and not be distracted from your job… Since there was no “tomorrow” for you on each job, you persisted until you completed each one…. and momentum built with the completion of each task…. Perhaps the most exciting part of this vacation scenario is the fact that your co-workers instinctively picked up the pace [as well].”
If this approach works so well on the day before vacation, or the days before a test, a presentation or paper is due, won’t it work just as well every day?
A big part of this is in the planning.  When you plan things, the odds of their happening go up substantially.  If we plan our months, weeks and days we will be more productive and balanced.
Tia spent the evening writing about her experiences in Africa.  She’s made her list and has prioritized it.  She’s an achiever, not only will she get everything done, she will do it all very well.  But if Tammy hadn’t told her to pause, make a list and prioritize that list her stress would have stayed high and her productivity would have been low.  Plan your days and act so you don’t spend them reacting.
For more great stuff from Zig Ziglar find one of his books here on: Amazon.

Personal Accountability

Back in August of 2012 I wrote about our Education Plan at my company, Kodiak Mountain Stone.  If you have never read about it, click on the link and find out more because it has been a pretty good thing we came up with.  From each Education Meeting that we have, everyone on our team learns something. But I think the most value comes to the person who is hosting the meeting.  As the saying goes, “the teacher is the one who learns the most.”

 

In the past I’ve shared thoughts and ideas from some of our Education Meetings, but it has been a while since I have passed any of this on.  Yesterday we had one of these meetings and I think that the subject that was addressed is awesome and I want to share a little bit about it.

 

Before I get into the details of the meeting I want to take a step back.  A few months ago I was on a conference call with my store manager at my store in Calgary AB.  He was frustrated and told me that one of the team members had come in late for the second time that week and used the same excuse as the first time.  “Sorry that I’m late, traffic was terrible.”

 

As soon as he told me about this I had a memory flash into my mind.  I remembered back to January 9, 2002.  That day I was working as a bank manager for ATB Financial, which is a bank located in Alberta, Canada.  I had the opportunity that day to attend a managers training meeting where David Irvine spoke to us.  The topic that he spoke about that day was one that he had written a book about, “Accountability – Getting a Grip on Results.”  The new, updated version of the book is, Bridges of Trust: Making Accountability Authentic
The reason I remember the exact day of this meeting is because I have that book in my library signed and dated by David.  I know it was a good meeting because almost 13 years later there are a number of things that I specifically remember him saying.  But there are two things that really stood out to me that day.
He told us to imagine ourselves leaving our house with just the right amount of time to get to an important meeting.  You are well prepared for the meeting and things are looking good.  But then when you are about half way to the meeting you hit some crazy traffic that just about brings you to a halt. You are anxiously putting along and starting to stress more and more about being late for your meeting.  Pretty soon the starting time of the meeting comes and goes and you are still blocks away from your meeting place.  You finally arrive, park your vehicle and dash to the meeting room.  As you enter the room, all eyes are focused directly on you.  Sweat is dripping down your forehead and you say…

At that point what words leave your mouth?  Most people respond exactly how my employee responded. “Sorry that I’m late, traffic was terrible.”  At that time, that is probably exactly how I would respond.  But that is not being accountable for your actions.  I vividly remember him explaining that the proper response should be something such as, “sorry that I am late, I didn’t leave my home in time to account for the traffic.”

 

That was an ah-ha moment for me.  It completely changed my perspective on personal accountability.  As an employer, how would I receive someone coming in late to a meeting who said, “sorry I’m late, traffic was terrible” versus someone who said, “sorry I’m late, I never left home early enough to account for the traffic.”  I want to work with the person who is showing me that they can take personal accountability.  It doesn’t excuse the fact that they are late, but they are not trying to blame something or someone else for them being late.  Thirteen years ago and that story still comes to mind whenever I hear someone not taking personal responsibility.

 

Another thing that has always stood out to me since that meeting was when David talked about consequences.  That negative word, consequences.  All my life, whenever I’ve done something wrong or bad, I’ve had to deal with those darn consequences.  But what about the times you have done something good.  What follows?  Those are consequences too, but positive ones!  I had always looked at the word, consequence, with negativity.  But in reality, there are consequences for everything we do.  It’s our own actions that determine if those are positive or negative consequences.  Today this is not just an important thing to talk about in our work environment, but as I’m raising four kids from ages 3 to 15 it has been a huge thing we have tried to teach them about too.

 

So after my conference call with my store manager I immediately emailed David Irvine and asked him to send a copy of his book to my store in Calgary.  When it arrived I explained to this particular employee that I wanted him using it for an Education Meeting.  I know that he got a lot of good out of the book because my manager told me that there were a number of occasions that he came to him to tell him something he had read about in the book.  Yesterday he did a great job with the Education Meeting.  I hope that all of my staff learned something from this great book.

 

The number one lesson that this employee thought our staff needed to learn from the book was that you always have a choice to start with yourself!