Reading Time: 6 minutes
On May 15th 2020 I had something of an epiphany.
It became apparent that for perhaps the last decade of my life or more (probably more) – I’d stopped learning on a consistent basis.
Sure throughout my time, there were periods of me having to get some kind of specific education in relation to a new venture or otherwise – and this resulted in the specific uptake of a course to learn SEO or otherwise.
But as a regular part of my daily diet – whilst finally, I’d recovered from the ‘writing gap’ in my life in October of 2019 through the inception of this newsletter…the same couldn’t be said of my learning.
And so, since May 15th up until 1st September (3.5 months or over 105 days), I’ve listened to 154 hours of audible.
Yes, it’s crazy when I think about that, but it’s actually the volume of content I’ve consumed. And I’m only 3.5 months into the journey but I can say without a doubt it’s literally changing my life.
The goal of today’s post is to talk to you about the practical parts of what I’m doing as well as to give you some insights into why I want to maintain this as a lifelong habit.
So here’s a list of all of the books (more or less) that I’ve read since beginning this journey:
I’ve read books on romance, arguments, focus, writing, stories, autobiographies, and more. Right now I’m reading a personal development book by Les Brown, and from there I may well pivot into a book to understand more about the Vegan movement as I build a plant-based business.
But getting into the mindset of daily ‘active’ listening has been profound for me.
So to put this into perspective what I’m practically doing is:
- Wake up between 430-6 am
- Keep writing my novel OR
- Listen to an audible segment
2 & 3 might swap places depending upon how I feel when I wake up (as of late) – but previous to that I was consistently listening. Pausing regularly to take notes on Zenkit (the note-taking app that I’ve elected to use), as well as find new books that might provide new sources of motivation and inspiration for me.
There hasn’t really been a book where I haven’t had at least one ‘aha’ moment.
I’ve spoken about this fairly heavily on my blog (which I encourage you to check out) – and the act of reading is so powerful.
When you find someone who has a way of thinking that you enjoy – it’s powerful to keep re-engaging with that writer.
Because their best, and most compelling work they do often comes out in books. You’ll know more from reading my story about my life than you ever will from meeting me. I can’t condense or communicate the sum of my best learning to you in a f2f conversation.
It’s just impossible – this is also the reason why whenever I find someone who has a unique way of thinking – I try as best as I can to read or consume something they’ve produced.
This is how I get access to the best insights that Grant Cardone, Zig Ziglar, Les Brown, Cal Newport and countless others (dead or alive) have had all into my ears. It’s certainly changed the speed at which I’m beginning to move.
The continual exposure you get to new lessons, new ways of thinking and new strategies directly impacts the work that you do on a daily basis.
Because my new best friends whom I’ve spent the most time around over the last 3.5 months have almost exclusively been best selling authors – the quality of my output is also increasing significantly.
It’s led me to running coaching, to writing coaching, to talking to a productivity coach later today.
My mental diet has gone up several notches, and it’s also led me to improve my actual physical diet now that I get food 7-days a week from a food preparation company – all vegetarian.
The ongoing impact that regular reading can have on you is literally second to none.
It’s also helped me build out my intern programme to become relatively self sustaining and to continue up the calibre of people that become part of the Pearl Lemon team.
The maximum number of interns I had 1 year ago was 3-4. Now there are 14 interns. That’s more than 300% growth – and it isn’t the case we’ve become 300% more bureaucratic – but it DOES mean we’ve become 300% more effective.
The scale at which work is getting done has changed and magnified, and my ability to manage multiple projects at once has hugely increased.
Audible also gives me access to learn things ‘just-in-time’ based upon need. So as I take my 30-60 minute morning walks I’ll listen to an audiobook for some/all of the walk and just synthesise new information.
Reading a book on how to manage anger more effectively has led to an improvement in the quality of my relationship with Daniela.
These are just the things I can think of at the top of my mind.
But it’s really an incredible journey I’m proud to be on – and it’s directly impacting the speed also at which I’m able to get things done.
Back when I started writing almost a year ago now – I’d basically consider the ‘day’ to be victorious if I was able to get one of these posts put together to then pass over to Lydia.
I’d go to Poppins (in West Drayton – a cafe) and write these posts for a good couple of hours. It felt like this was the most significant moment of my day.
Now – well I’m 950 words in and aim to finish up shortly enough – and I’ve done it all in less than an hour.
Before this, I wrote 2k words of my novel – which is now at 72,000 words and will soon finish in time for a redraft. At the moment one of the interns Tannishtha – who is working as a content writer at Pearl Lemon – is going through that novel to tidy up everything that’s clearly aberrant.
Now – the examples I’ve given are wide and varying and the biggest change in my life has been the addition of heavy listening to audio books – alongside the subtraction of social media and email from my phone and often my laptop also.
It’s opened up more hours in my day and is leading to bigger and better outcomes.
It’s a cliche but I can see how regular ‘active’ reading (where you take notes, underline key things, identify immediate actions and execute them) can make a significant difference to your success.
Summer, and reading through Summer prove to be a challenge – and in the month of August, my reading reduced to my new low of 20 hours listened (but at 2x speed – so 40 hours of actual book time). It’s too early to see if this was an aberration or a trend – but the intention is – is to get back up to reading for 60 minutes per day.
The main thing I want to say to you – as you consider (whether it’s audible, or actual books or otherwise) – is that reading, and actively so – will force you to raise yourself to a higher standard.
As now the advice and input I get from people are more and more professionals, and less and fewer others who haven’t done nor achieved as much as someone I admire – I see the quality of anything that I do steadily increase.
I’m truly excited for myself to see where reading will take me in one year from now, as only after 3.5 months am I already seeing what changes it has made.
Certainly, the ‘aha’ moments are fewer than they were when I began – but also the way in which I read is changing.
If I get less value from a book – I just stop reading the book midway through – leave an Audible review saying so, and then continue with my journey. It was difficult to do the first time – but now I’ve found it liberating to be able to liberate myself from poor content without needing anyone’s permission.
When I have fewer ‘aha’ moments I review and try and look for literature that will give me more of that – but by and large I always walk away with some value from audio – and by making it an audiobook I’ll engage with and nothing else – it’s always easier to practically fit in into the pockets of my days.
Of course, there are many others who listen to non-fiction and can beat me hands down with the volume of content they read. But the true measure of your gain from it – is probably non-fiction and how much you end up learning from it.
Success, and absolutely massive success I do believe – can come from actively reading and just focusing on this as the one neverending personal development channel.
So – let’s get reading!
- 60 minutes a day on Audible.
- In the morning a 30-60 minute walk.
- After lunch a 30-60 minute walk
- After dinner at a 30-60 minute walk
These are you blocks within which to try and get 60 minutes+ of active reading in.