To Read Without Reflection

“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”

—Edmund Burke, 18th Century Irish Statesman

 

Image of a man following text with a pen in hand

Image from Flickr by Sebastien Wiertz

Think back to your biology or life science classes in high school. How much do you recall about the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system, or in the case of today’s quote, the digestive system?

The journey a single bite of food takes from our mouth, into and through the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and colon takes somewhere between 18 and 24 hours.

What do you think would happen if the length of digestion time were cut in half, and food was processed in 9 to 12 hours instead? What percent of the vital nutrients would be available to nourish our bodies?

Consider speed reading, executive book summaries, the classic CliffNotes or Monarch notes – and even Twitter – as ways we short-cut the learning process. What valuable nuggets of wisdom are being missed or lost through the use of short-cuts?

EXERCISE:

Where specifically would greater reflection on the materials you are currently reading make the biggest difference?

Consider re-reading one of your most highly prized and valuable books from your past. Read it slowly, with the intent of digesting and teaching the most important lessons to a class composed of people you know would benefit the most.

Please let me know which book you would re-read, and what you discovered in the process.

Reading gives us some place to go

“Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

—Mason Cooley, Late American Aphorist

Image of a man reading at a bus stop

Photo by Laëtitia Buscaylet on Unsplash

My mother, Rose, was the most avid reader I’ve ever known. As a boy, I would frequently go with her to the library where, every three weeks, she would pick a new batch of 12 books. She devoured them every evening after dinner.

I recall her frustration on one occasion, in that she could not find, in our small local library, enough books of interest that she had not already read.

Although she was never a world traveler or college graduate, she took countless trips with her vivid imagination – wherever her written portals to adventure would take her.

EXERCISE:

Consider visiting your local library or bookstore to pick up a book that will take you on a great adventure, from the comfort of your favorite chair.

The worst thing about new books

“The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.”

—Joseph Joubert, 19th Century French Essayist

Image of a large library

Image from Flickr by Saimad

Because I am heavily invested in personal and professional development, I am always on the lookout for the next ground-breaking book. I thrive on new ideas and the concept of finding a better way to improve the world.

If you are like me, you sometimes find new books a bit of a letdown in that they often repackage old ideas in ways that fall short of the originals.

EXERCISE:

Consider a Google search on this phrase:

The greatest ___________ books of all time. Fill in the blank with whatever types of books you value and enjoy most.

 

Invest in Knowledge

“If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the highest return.”

—Benjamin Franklin, American Founding Father

A client recently shared with me a book titled Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals by Tom Corley.

From Corley’s years of research into hundreds of rich and poor people, I learned that of the wealthiest people:

  • 88% read for 30 minutes or more each day.
  • 63% listen to audio-books during their commute.
  • 94% read about current events.
  • 50%+ read biographies of successful people.

In contrast, only about one in fifty of those struggling financially engaged in daily self-improvement reading.

EXERCISE:

How can and will you invest the time and resources in your personal and professional development efforts to lead an even more richly rewarding life?

The more that you read

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

-Dr. Seuss, pen name of Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel

Image of The Cat in the Hat reading today's quote

image from Dr. Suess Entrprises

Dr. Seuss really knew what he was talking about with this quote!

According to DoSomething.org:

  • 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
  • One in four children in America grows up without learning how to read.
  • Students who don’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times likelier to drop out of school.
  • Nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, proving that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime.

EXERCISE:

How will you, in this new year, make a greater commitment to reading and continuous learning, to support yourself and those you care about going to more wonderful places?

another mind in your hands

“When you read a book, you hold another’s mind in your hands.”

-James Burke, British broadcaster and author

image from cntraveler.com

image from cntraveler.com

Throughout my childhood and into my early adult years it was rare for me to read anything but an occasional comic book. My mother, Rose, meanwhile, was a voracious reader, often consuming 10-12 books every three weeks—the maximum allowed by our local library.

Although her formal education ended when she graduated from high school, she was more highly intelligent, articulate, and “in the know” than most college graduates. I greatly admired this quality in her and adopted her practices to a good degree throughout my various careers. This is especially true in my work as a Coach, in which I often get to share the minds of others through their wonderful, world-expanding books.

EXERCISE:

How would a good book related to your existing interests, challenges, or priorities provide a mind-expanding contribution to your world?

Consider the practice of always having a good book handy, so your mind is always expanding.

Click THIS LINK to see some of the world’s most amazing and beautiful libraries. They clearly demonstrate the honor given to books and learning.

From Harold S. Geneen

“You read a book from beginning to end. You run a business the opposite way. You start with the end, and then you do everything you must to reach it.”

– Harold S. Geneen

I know a few people who actually read the last chapter of a book to determine if they wish to read the book from the beginning.

Yet few of us ever want to be told a joke’s punch line first, to be told how a sporting event turns out, or to know how a popular movie ends. We like to see how things evolve.

Achieving professional or personal goals is different. We like to ensure a happy, successful ending, and therefore this quote suggests that we begin with the end in mind.

Exercise:

What are your personal and professional goals? Take at least two to three minutes to actually write them down.

Take another two to three minutes to write out steps and milestones along the way that will help you reach them.

Consider doing this exercise with family members, colleagues … or a coach. 🙂

(You can find details of my coaching services here: http://www.dempcoaching.com/professional-services