Have you ever read an amazing book, that got you so inspired with its ideas and excited to implement them into your life, only to realize a few months later that you have pretty much forgotten them all?
Honestly this has happened to me so many times. I’ve had the opportunity to read some truly great books, but all that eventually stuck with me, was that the book itself is great and has amazing ideas. So besides the excitement I got from reading them, the long-term benefit seemed to be close to zero.
Why? Because I did not internalize the message, just hearing an idea is rarely enough for it to have a lasting impact, it needs to be internalized, reviewed, pondered upon, discussed with people, etc. to really get wired in our brains. Only then can we really put it to use, because it will be automatically reflected in our actions.
This might not be a problem if one is simply reading for pleasure and so it did not bother me for a long time. However, in 2013 I decided to quit my corporate job and start my own business and quickly realized that I am utterly unprepared for the challenge and need to quickly educate myself I wanted to succeed.
So, I started reading ferociously everything I could find on the subject. I simply wanted to know how other people have succeeded in business and wanted to know it fast. Luckily for me we live in a time when great books are instantaneously available for just a few dollars. Which proved to be a blessing and a curse at the same time, because I started to lose myself in all the different ideas and got increasingly frustrated.
Funny enough, I later realized that this is a not a specific problem of the information age, as I had thought, but Seneca the Younger has written about it 2000 years ago it in his letter “On Discursiveness in Reading”.
So, at a certain point I realized that just reading a great business book will unfortunately not automatically make me a better business person. On the contrary, by just reading it very little will happen at all. In order to get the benefit I am after, I need to internalize the key points until they become part of my own thinking.
At the same time I listened to a great podcast with Nathan Latka, who elaborates in detail on his note-taking system and how he has used books to propel himself to success (which judging from his business success has worked extremely well).
So, I decided that I want to do the same, but the question that remained is how to best do it? I’ve experimented with different ways and most recently decided to start sharing my key takeaways in a blog, so that others can benefit from them too. At the same time I am hoping that this will motivate me to become even more diligent about reading and taking notes.
It’s important to note that I am not doing book reviews in the traditional sense. The goal is rather to summarize my own key takeaways in an actionable form, that I can easily refer to often enough until the ideas are internalized. The key points of each book that I put out might be very different from yours depending on where you are in your life right now. That’s why I’d be very happy if you share your perspective and how it differs.
For further resources you can refer to Derek Sivers’ website, who has an amazing collection of books and is definitely worth checking out.