How A Non-Reader Becomes Obsessed With Learning
A lot of people weren’t born readers. Developing the habit of reading, especially if you’re a non-reader, can be painful, daunting and overwhelming. But reading enriches your knowledge, inspires you, motivates you, gets to you to take action.
Another challenge in reading is how to retain the information, the ideas, the knowledge you’ve just read. Reading without comprehension makes reading useless.
If you aren’t a voracious reader at this point in your life, and you’d like to take on the habit of reading and become obsessed with learning, I’ll share with you the tips that worked for me, and they may work for you too.
How Reading Changed My Life
Did you know most people only read a handful of books after they get done with school? I would like to help you show up more powerfully in life and business with high-performance habits and
well-crafted storytelling. That’s both surprising and not-so-surprising.
If you don’t know me or if we haven’t met, let me tell you my story. Before getting into business, I was once a hundred-pound overweight and was a three-time college dropout. high-performance skills weren’t in my vocabulary early on in my life, up until the age of probably 22, 23, 24 years old.
I wouldn’t say that I couldn’t learn or that I wasn’t smart. I just wasn’t a great student. Reading was something I had to do but it was never something I looked forward to. I was not a big reader growing up.
And I remember early on, when I was getting started in the business, I had a mentor that really challenged me in a lot of ways. I was trying to get clients, trying to build my business, and I was doing all the things right. I was doing all the steps but realized it wasn’t working.
My mentor challenged me. He asked what I was watching or listening to in my spare time. I gave him a vague answer, and told him “like what other people do.” I’d wake up in the morning and pop on ESPN. I listened to a lot of sports radio talk, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m obviously an avid sports fan.
While what I did was normal for most people, I realized that I wasn’t dominating most of my day. It was easy to get caught on debates who had the best defense or who was the greatest player of all time. We notice what’s wrong in the world and then we complain. While I was busy doing all that, I figured what I was not doing: I was not learning.
I wasn’t increasing my skill sets. I’m somebody in life that wants to be better, as an entrepreneur building a business, or be better at the job that I’m in or maybe as an employee. Maybe I wanna be better in relationships with my friends and my loved ones.
The good thing is that there are books and information on how to get better at all these things. So many of the things that we feel like we’re not good at aren’t necessarily talent-based. They’re not something that only a certain percentage of people that’s reserved for them to be good at. Most skills are learnable things. Most skills really require no talent. They just require some knowledge and some application.
How to become obsessed with learning
I want to share with you real quick some ways that a non-reader really became obsessed with learning.
1). Listen to audiobooks
If I can listen to sports talk radio or I can pop on ESPN in the morning as I’m getting ready, I can passively be listening to something. Now sometimes, that actually is in video form. I’ll wake up in the morning and pop on something on YouTube or IGTV that is either something positive that’s gonna help build me up and get me in a good mindset for the day or literally is teaching me a skill I need.
So think right now, what’s keeping you from where you wanna be in life? You might say you don’t know what to do or that you’re not good at it. But for some people, it’s some kind of skill. Maybe it’s learning how to shoot video or how to build a video business online. Maybe it’s email marketing. Maybe it’s networking. Maybe it’s how to make new friends because you’ve decided your circle’s really small and you want to meet new people.
These are all skillsets, and there’s all sorts of information out there helping people learn new skills. You can go to the internet and type how to XYZ. But then there are also books. Initially, listening to just five or ten minutes a day of a good book is a great start.
But that also leads me to the second tip: don’t try to eat it all at once. It isn’t a matter of trying to sit down and read a big book.
2). Read in portions
My mentor challenged me to read 10 pages a day of a good book. So I will sit down, take that 10 pages and hold that just to see how long it was. It just seemed so daunting at times, so I would pick books with bigger fonts and the pages went by quickly. I’d be happy if there were pictures.
I know reading can be painful at first. It’s like starting a workout program or getting up in the morning. My mind wandered all kinds of places. I really didn’t feel like I was focused on it. I thought it was pointless. I’m not even remembering stuff. But I stuck with it.
3). Complement audiobooks with real books
What has become quite a game changer for me as I look forward to learning everyday, how I retain more of what I learn is this: read a book and listen to its audiobook at the same time. You see, some people listen to audiobooks, some people read regular books. I was challenged to do both at the same time.
So let’s say I get a new book. And I will also get the audiobook. And it’s also great to have an Audible account. What I love about my Audible account is that every month, it gives me a book to get without having to pay for a whole new book. And I probably have a ton more books in my Audible library that I’ve actually listened to.
In my morning time after my workout, I listen to a positive audio, nine times out of ten via a podcast or YouTube. I’m listening to somebody like Gary Vaynerchuk, Pastor Steven Furtick, Les Brown, Jim Rohn or Tony Robbins. So that’s a start.
Pro-tip: Adjust the reading speed to your preference
And then I move and workout. After that, I sit with a nice, warm cup of coffee, and I take that book out, and I put my AirPods in. I have my highlighter, and I usually have some little pad with a place to take notes. But really, I will push play on Audible, and put the audio at about 1.25 or one and a half speed.
I do that because the brain can take that in. It’s not too fast for me. If I go twice the speed, it gets a little chipmunky, and I can’t necessarily understand it all. But I’m listening to them read a little faster than normal, but my eyes are following along at the same time. I can say the retention rate of what I comprehend, the ideas I have, the things I remember afterwards just skyrocket.
You can think of it as someone reading you a story. Remember when you were a little kid, and you’d have your parents or your grandparents or your teacher read you a story. There’s something about hearing, looking at the picture and visually taking in at the same time that helps me retain those things. And it makes the reading and the learning process not so much of a chore. It all seems so much easier.
4). Start with 10 minutes a day
Let’s start with 10 minutes a day, you and me, 10 minutes a day to read a good book. What do I mean by a good book? It’s something that’s gonna speak life into you, something that’s gonna challenge you and help you get better at things.
I think some of the books that really were life changers for me, Gary Vaynerchuk’s first book, Crush It; Darren Hardy’s book, The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster. I’m reading Bo Eason’s new book or something, Brendan Burchard’s High Performing Habits, Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule.
But this is what I challenge you to do. Pick a book. I don’t care what it is, something that is gonna move the needle for you, something where you wanna get better at. Maybe it’s someplace that’s been challenging you, or someplace you just need some encouragement. Get the book and get the audio.
You might think you’re paying twice. Yes, you do. But that’s also investing in yourself twice. What’s the point in investing in something if you’re not gonna remember it or if it’s just gonna sit on a shelf or you’re only gonna listen to it every once in a while? Sometimes, putting a little more skin in the game makes you more likely to take a little more action.
Summing it up
I was a non-reader, but now I read a lot. I can say for myself how powerful reading is in my life. It adds value. I challenge you to pick a good book, read 10 pages or read for 10 minutes and do it every day.
We only get so much time on this planet. Why do it in a mediocre fashion? Why not raise the bar? Why not show up in a more powerful way for you, for those you love, for your job, and leave your legacy? My name is Coach Jimmy. Let’s show up powerfully, let’s tell good stories. I’ll talk to you next time.