There is no denying that learning more is a key factor in earning more. As a Tim Ferriss fan, I find it very telling that every person Tim interviews is both an avid reader and wildly successful. If Warren Buffett spends 90% of his day reading then there must be something to it, right?
I struggle with an addiction for learning and consuming great information. Many people share this struggle, although most consume more social media and reality television than great information. My thirst for knowledge started out in the form of podcasts and YouTube, which evolved into popping book recommendations like candy.
Thanks to Amazon Prime I could order a book with one click and have it in my hands two days later. And my discovery that reading nonfiction on a Kindle improved retention didn’t help matters (zero distractions + highlighting). It was too easy to find and consume great content. So, like all stories of addiction, things began to spiral out of control.
Over the course of the past year, I read sixty-two books and learned more about business, leadership, sales and marketing, and personal finance than I know what to do with. However, the year as a whole was a bit disappointing. While it was a successful year both professionally and personally, I can’t help but wish I’d taken more action.
Let’s conservatively say I spent three hours reading each book. That equates to 186 hours spent reading, or nearly five 40-hour work weeks. When you look at it like that, it’s easy to see why I feel like I could’ve done more. Can you imagine what you could accomplish if you dedicated five weeks of focused time into something?
PROCRASTINATION, FEAR, & MENTAL MASTURBATION
I’ve wanted to write about topics outside fitness, start a digital marketing business, and create a blog dedicated to crushing it as a young professional for quite some time. I would have started sooner but a little voice in my head told me to keep learning and keep acquiring knowledge until I had enough to guarantee success or share with the world.
I listened to that voice for a long (186+ hours) time, keeping my head down and stacking knowledge on top of knowledge. I’m certain the little voice in my head stemmed from fear. Like many, I was afraid of being judged, not worthy, or worse, hearing crickets. Reading became a form of mental masturbation, no different than social media or reality tv. The end product may have been more knowledge and skill but when it was all said and done, I was only screwing myself by not taking action.
Eventually, I realized that I’ll never have all the answers. Nor will I ever be able to please everyone. I’ll never be the smartest, or the best writer, or the most creative, or the greatest whatever, and that’s okay because that’s not the goal. The goal is to continue improving every day, enjoy the journey, and for me, share that journey with others. So I put down the books and started.
Since ditching the shotgun approach, I’ve discovered that I now know exactly what I need to learn. Instead of reading an entire book on SEO or business strategy, I can pinpoint the solution and learn it quickly. It’s worth adding that having a strong knowledge base beforehand has been a massive help with determining what to look for and where to find a problem’s solution.
MINIMUM VIABLE KNOWLEDGE (MVK): THE SOLUTION
I struggle with determining when enough is enough. Similar to the minimum viable product school of thought, determining the minimum knowledge required to bring a skill to the practical application stage is a great start. You don’t have to be the world’s leading expert on a topic before taking action.
Jim Rohn famously said, “If you let your learning lead to knowledge, you become a fool. If you let your learning lead to action, you become wealthy.”
You can only learn so much from someone else. Mastery requires practical application and hands-on experience. Instead of reading another book on writing or leadership, go write or lead your team. The real magic happens when in-the-field experience collides with acquired knowledge over an extended period of time.
Not only will you begin making progress by taking action, you’ll reap the benefits of specificity. As I mentioned above, your focus and expertise will narrow and become more precise. That may sound like a bad thing if you’re currently in mass-consume mode, but it’s the only way to avoid becoming mediocre at a lot of different things.
This doesn’t mean you’ll be handcuffed to whatever you take action on. Life is long and reaching MVK in a new area doesn’t take all that long if we’re being honest. If you narrow your focus to one area and begin taking action on a project only to discover you hate it, pivot to something else. Who says you have to do the same thing for your entire life?
Coming full circle to Tim Ferriss’s podcast guests, can you guess another thing they all share? If you guessed meditation you’d be right, but I’m actually talking about their being men/women of action. They make things happen. None of them got where they are by sitting on the sidelines. I let my love for learning mask my fear of doing for far too long. So here I am, writing to you.
What are you afraid of or running from? Are you hiding in books, blogs, social media, or tv?