4 Intangible Skills I Learned From Reading More

What I gained from reading has spilled over to many areas of my life.  It wasn’t just the amazing stories, the knowledge, strategies and tactics, or motivation.  What has had far more spill over effect have been the intangibles.

1. Focus

Sitting down and reading everyday required focus. I had to learn to put on mental blinders and focus on the book.  Plug in headphones if my wife was watching TV, and focus on what I was reading.   Not check Instagram.  Not check Facebook.  Not check Snapchat.  Learning to focus the mind on one task. Reading, learning, not thinking about other things at the same time.  Sitting down for 2 hours without checking the phone.  Not checking e-mails.  No social media.  Not googling random thoughts or doing small errands between tasks.  Not turning on Netflix.

2. Discipline

It required discipline to read everyday.  Every time I had extra time at home, it wasn’t about finding something to do.  It was about sitting down and getting shit done.  Read.  When I started, I created a rule.  No TV between Mondays and Thursdays.   So what do you do when you’re home and you can’t watch TV, and you told yourself you would read more?  It didn’t matter if I was tired, I forced myself to open the book and read.  When I couldn’t focus my mind on a specific book, I would switch to something lighter that my brain could digest.

3. I’ve always got an hour

With the rare exceptions, I always had time to read.  Even if it was right before bed and super exhausted.  I could pick up a fiction book and get engrossed in the story.  Reading fiction before bed would help turn off the “doing” part of my brain.  Rather than winding down by watching TV and letting the glare of the screen kill my bio rhythms, reading a book would help put me to bed.  The rest of my time will be more productive if you give me my workout time,’ — Barack Obama

4. Achievement

At the beginning of the year, I set out to read 8 books during the year.   I set a low goal by pushing a little bit past my then-speed of reading.  So I started with a high pace in January with a goal of reading more in 2016 than I did in 2015.

[A] man’s most specific gift: his ability to put all his resources behind one activity, one field of endeavour, one area of accomplishment… Human excellence can only be achieved in one area, or at the most in very few. — Peter Drucker

The one achievement that I wanted to do everyday was to read more.  It wasn’t about reading a certain number of books or pages.  It was, squeeze as much reading as I can in a day.  Before work.  After work.  After dinner.  Before bed. On the bus.  Waiting for the car to get maintenanced.  Anywhere and everywhere.

I learned that if I set my mind to accomplish something, reading more, I could achieve it.  It wasn’t about reading more, and also eating really healthy, working out everyday, spending more time with my wife, more more more.  It was one thing, setting my mind to that one thing.

It’s surprising how simple, not easy, but simple, it is to do achieve just one thing.

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