When Did You Stop Learning? by Shawn Doyle

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Today I am going to address a topic that very few people are talking about right now. I have a unique perspective because I do about 100 training programs a year. Here is what I am seeing. In class, I will ask, “Who has read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People?” Out of a group of thirty people, one hand will go up. I am not asking about an obscure book but one that has been on the business bestseller list for thirty years. The rest of the class has never heard of it.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 68 percent of men read at least one book last year. Okay, that is the good news, but here is the bad news: that means that 32 percent didn’t read one at all in a whole year (52 weeks—365 days). 

When I talk to people, they tell me they don’t read (learn) for the following reasons:

  • “I have never been much of a reader.”
  • “Between work and home I am just too busy.”
  • “I read on my device all day at work. The last thing I want to do is read when I get home.” 

There is a whole range of other reasons people give me—way too many to mention. Here is the reality: instead of reading, they are watching TV or surfing the Internet. Is that you? Look, I am not criticizing; I am just passionate about everyone learning all the time.  

I want to help you, and my goal is to convince you why you need to keep learning and then give you some quick tips you can use today.

The following are reasons why you have to learn now:

  • There are people in your organization who are reading and studying, and you are not.
  • They are going to take your job if you don’t keep up.
  • Knowledge is a huge competitive advantage.
  • You will be much more likely to get promoted.
  • You will be much more motivated and creative when you are exposing yourself to new ideas.
  • You will be smarter and more thoughtful. 

One note: If you have never enjoyed reading, that is okay—I am not judging you. Then just listen to audiobooks or watch videos on the same topics online. 

I am asking you to make a commitment to learning now. I am also asking you to commit to reading nonfiction most of the time. You learn so much more from nonfiction than you do from fiction. 

Here are some techniques for finding time to read/learn:

  • Cut back on TV. The average American watches 2.8 hours of television a day. So, one simple step is to cut back on TV to one hour, buying yourself reading time. Besides, reading new books is so much more interesting than watching a rerun of a stale show you have already seen. 
  • Get up thirty minutes earlier in the morning to read and study. I have noticed an enormous percentage of highly successful people do that every day. Author Hal Elrod calls this “the morning miracle.”
  • Read during your lunch break at work. I know you probably get lunch and take it back to your desk. Don’t! Find a quiet place and read at lunch.
  • Planes and trains—whenever you are on a plane or a train, pack something to read. Maximize your travel time.
  • Learn in your car. If you have to commute by car, listen to audiobooks.
  • Training programs—if your company has a training department, see what programs you can sign up for this year.  

The reality is that every year you need to be a different, better, improved version of you. So, let the new you start today. You can do this!

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For more business and personal development insight from Shawn Doyle, check out his titles from Sound Wisdom, including his Jumpstart Series, The Sun Still Rises, The Leadership Manifesto, and Two Months to Motivation.