How are you? Today is a wonderful day. Today is the kind of day in which you have a date with destiny and in which you’re going to accomplish goals that will surprise even your wildest expectations.
Trust me. It’s true.
So let share with you something about me.
For most of my life, you’d find me with a book in my hand.
As most of my ex girlfriends can testify, I was a book nerd. Each time I’ve came across a library, I would say …
“Honey, I know we’re in a hurry but let’s visit this book store”. There I would spend 10 – 20 – 30 hours (just kidding, but I would if I have could) browsing through the latest business releases.
If you’ve visited my home, you’d find me on the couch reading. If you’d install a camera in the evening, you’d find me burning the midnight oil reading something like Outliers by Malcom Gladwell or Fooled by Randomness by Taleb.
And this was great. There’s no doubt whatsoever that I’ve elevated my life because I’ve decided to be a book nerd. All that information compounds and forms meaningful connections. Each of the books that I’ve read helped me in some way and you have no idea how grateful I am to those authors. Each one has been an unknowingly mentor in my life.
There’s a catch though.
There is too much of a good thing. You can OD on reading, especially when it comes to non-fiction. This means you can read too much and this will lead to paralysis of analysis or worse – to blanking out.
Blanking out is what happened to me.
You know how when you first hear a song, you pay attention to the lyrics and to the meaning behind those lyrics? How you can listen to Enrique Iglesias’s Hero and understand about their story … or listen to someone like Snoop Dog and get the clever metaphors and allegories?
After a while, you hear the song but you’re not paying attention anymore. You’re blanking out. Your mind decides to filter it as background noise. This is what happened to me. After reading so much, any new book I’ve read was mostly filtered out as background noise and the more I’ve read, the less I’ve understood.
Something had to change and fast.
In that moment, I’ve decided to stop reading one book a week. To stop listening to audiobooks. To stop spending 2 – 3 – 4 hours a day with my nose buried in a book (well, technically iPad).
Instead, I’ve took a different approach and if you do the same – it will change your life.
I’ve decided to treat books not as sources of information but as manuals for life. When you understand this distinction my friend, everything is going to change for you.
I’ve decided to read slowly, take notes, reflect on those notes and take my time. Instead of finishing a book in two days, I’ve decided to take 2 – 3 and even a month for a book. When I’ve found something useful and relevant to my life (or the life of others – as those around me and their evolution are just as important as mine!) I’d write it on an index card.
This is how I roll now. I let the book transform me. If I find a paragraph that’s insightful, I may spend two hours thinking about it and how it relates to everything I know. I’ve transformed from a avid book reader to a avid note taker and someone who treats books as a coaching experience.
I don’t seek information or knowledge. I seek tools I can use. If Napoleon Hill writes on how to set goals, I don’t say to myself “that’s cool” and move on. I stop, take a pen and my legal pad and write my goals under this formula.
When Maxwell Maltz writes five questions to ask myself in order to eliminate my limiting beliefs, I write the questions down and either I do the exercise or I add it to my to-do list. Instead of using knowledge as rain to bless the field of my subconscious mind, I use it as tools to cultivate it with useful and desirable behaviors.
I’ve reached the conclusion that if I can get a single tool, a behavior, technique, approach that I can use from a 500 page book, I’m rich. My life is enriched. I can use it to make the world around myself better and to enrich the life of everyone I come into contact with – no matter if it is by improving myself or helping others with their own challenges.
On the other hand – if I get just reference data, that may be good, that enriches my mind … but it is not practical. I can’t use reference data to help you. I can present it to you but we don’t want just to have a smart conversation, do we? We want to make things better.
When I was a kid, I was praised because I could say by heart the capital of most countries in the world. Now I don’t. To be honest, I can’t think of a single circumstance in which this information helps me. I can’t see myself being in a business situation in which the other side says “Razvan, really fast, tell me which is the capital of Bangladesh”. I don’t need reference data because I can simply ask Siri.
But you know what Siri can not do?
Business analysis. Selling. Marketing. Proper time management. Tools for getting past emotional obstacles. Giving first aid. Helping someone see himself or herself in their true brilliance and not through the prism of their limited self-image. Make people feel special because they are special. I’d rather know how to inspire an audience of 50 at Toastmaster than to know the periodic table of elements. Siri got that covered.
Books are training manual for tools – tools for life. Books are not meant to be read, they’re meant to be experienced through all your senses. If after reading a book all you have to say is “that was interesting”, you’ve just robbed yourself of the benefit of the wisdom of giants.
If you read a book like “Think and Grow Rich” and you’re not using the tens of principles found in that masterpiece, then you rob yourself of all the wealth and joy and beauty you can create for yourself and others by applying the principles of this book. This means that when you have a non-fiction book in front of you, you don’t have words on paper. You don’t have just thoughts and concepts to absorb. No my friend. You have a manual for transforming your life beyond your wildest dreams. I can guarantee to you that if you take Think and Grow Rich and you apply each principle in it, your life will experience a quantum leap.
I’m not talking a 5% improvement. I’m not talking about marginally better.
I’m talking about a two times … five times … ten times leap compared to where you are now. I’m talking about improving the life of thousands of people through your action … of having fulfilling romantic relationships that make you joyful … of building wealth beyond your wildest dreams … and of being your best self, a concept that may be foreign to you right now until you experience it.
The purpose of education is not accumulating knowledge. It is behavioral change. It is becoming the next version of yourself by absorbing the knowledge and wisdom of someone who has been there before you and discovered things, concepts that would take you years or decades to discover through trial and error.
So the next time you have a good non-fiction book in front of you, take a second to reflect about this.
In front of you, you have a manual for a better life. You have a manual for dramatically changing everything about yourself and subsequently, your environment. You don’t have knowledge. You have the freakin’ god-fairy that’s ready to accomplish as many wishes as you want.
Don’t read it.
Experience it instead.
This is the best thing you can do for your personal development.
PS: About 60 minutes ago, I’ve received an email.
I don’t know if you remember from my last post, but I’ve talked about these two wonderful people – Naveed & Sonika and how I’ve been more than impressed with the free webinar they’ve gave on Facebook.
They’re the real deal, true gems if you want to improve your life. Such a level of practical brilliance I haven’t seen in a long time and I give credit where credit is due. Plus, in a world where most online entrepreneurs feature their rented Lambos in their sales funnels (trust me, most are rented) – or record videos in houses they’ve rented from AirBnB, their approach is very down-to-earth and charming.
So when I’ve been featured in their latest email, including this blog, I was more than surprised. I wasn’t expecting this and it is a confirmation that it was a good thing to exit the doggy-eat-dog world I was taking so much pride in before.
Good people exist in this world. While everywhere we look we see greed and pain, there are many people who are working to make the world a better place, one person at a time, one product sold at a time.
Here’s an excerpt of their email.