There are thousands and thousands of “self-help” books spanning a wide variety of ideas and specializations that you can find at any library, bookstore or online. I know. I’ve spent the past thirty years or so reading and accumulating them on my own bookshelf.
When I look at them, they all have a bookmark left conspicuously somewhere in the first 100 pages. With a few notable exceptions, I don’t think I’ve finished any of them. Why is that?
They are far too long
Do I really need to read 400 pages to learn about “Grit”? Why would it take me 10 hours to read about the “The 4 Hour Work Week”?
Don’t get me wrong, these are really good books. But in order to publish a book, they have to include dozens of stories, examples and case studies.
In most cases, the key thoughts from these books could be concisely summarized in a page or two.
They don’t JIVE with what I already believe
With all these examples and depth, inevitably at some point while you’re reading these books, something won’t fit with what you already “know” or believe.
It is very difficult, if not impossible to summarize down a long book into the two or three tactical elements that you can make a part of your life.
No implementation strategy
Even if I can digest the key thoughts or ideas from most books, there is often very little information on how to put these ideas into action. And more specifically, into action that fits with the other routines and plans that I’m already working on.
Yes, I’d like to be more “gritty” and I can see the benefits to that. But it isn’t something that I’m going to upend my entire life to do.
Many people just bounce around from one flavor of the month strategy to the next.
How should you read these books to get the most out of them?
- Skim them. Start with the Table of Contents.
- Read the introduction and/or first chapter. It will usually outline the path for the rest of the book.
- Look for chapter summaries at the end of each chapter.
- Synthesize the key thoughts onto a single page of paper.
- Make note of interesting sections or chapters, to re-read in detail
Implement the best ideas
If you find ideas that mesh with your “Success Game Plan”, find ways to integrate them into your written plan.