Around December 1st of last year, I arrived in Saigon. I had been on the road for 45 days prior, riding a bicycle from Hanoi. For most of the trip, I was listening to speeches by motivational speakers like Tony Robbins, Les Brown, and Owen Cook.
I was ready to tackle life in a new city, and I was hungry for personal growth.
But where to start? The answer seemed obvious. Read books by people who are more successful or knowledgeable than myself.
In the year since, I read 24 books on topics like biology, psychology, philosophy, spirituality, relationships, marketing, and more. This, of course, doesn’t include the countless blog posts, reddit threads, audio books, and podcasts I’ve consumed.
What did I learn from this year-long deep dive into the written word?
Sadly, not as much as I had expected.
Don’t get me wrong – reading this much was very valuable. My skills, attitudes, and knowledge have all improved. I’m a vastly better person for having read so much. But, to some degree, reading such a large quantity has diminishing returns.
I’m reminded of a parable of a kid who wanted to become a pro tennis player. He spent years reading up on theory and technique while never actually practicing. Obviously, his skills never materialized from reading alone. It wasn’t until he put down the books and picked up a racket that he learned to play.
Similarly, I became aware that applying knowledge is far more important than reading about it.
Towards the end of the year, I changed my approach. I began skimming more and skipping parts which weren’t useful. I started focusing on what was practical, taking notes, and actively applying what I had read. At times, I still feel like a kid who is clumsily holding a racket, but at least I’m actually learning to swing.
The moral to all this?
By all means, read books. But don’t cheat yourself from actual experience. After all, while you’re holed up with your seventh title on the same topic, you could be using that time to actually practice the skill you desire. Likewise, don’t blindly accept something just because it’s in a book. Instead, test ideas for yourself.
Reading is great. But doing will always be the primary source of real growth.
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In 2018, I’ll be a bit more selective about what I read. But I’ll still be taking detailed notes. I’d love to send them to you, so be sure to sign up for the Green Pill Newsletter. I promise I won’t spam you with fluff or sales pitches. Just pure value, guaranteed.
During 2018, I’ll be working hard on this website and really tackling the topic of self-development for vegan men. If this something your interested in, be sure to bookmark this site and check back frequently.