Column: Get better


A few years ago, I wrote my first book ( Like all first-time authors (except that genius who wrote the “Twilight” saga), I gave away a bunch of copies to family and friends to make certain that I got rid of the first printing. This year, just about everyone who received a copy is “halfway through” my book that has less than 150 pages and takes about three hours to read cover to cover.

Assuming that it’s a decent read (which it is – I promise), why is it so difficult for most people to get through this book? It’s probably for the same reason that the average adult in the U.S. reads less than one non-fiction book per year. Most people resist the urge to learn something new unless it can be delivered in less than 60 seconds. As a result, we have become a nation that receives its education on most topics (health, politics, business, religion, etc.) in quick sound bites.

Unfortunately, very few people are committed to the idea of meaningful self-improvement on a regular basis.  We have convinced ourselves that we are “too busy” to read a book, attend a seminar or listen to a CD in the car, arguing that these activities take away from getting “real work” completed.

The famous author, speaker and trainer Jim Rohn believed that you should “work harder on yourself than your job.” I agree and believe that every day you enter a classroom called “life” that is full of opportunities to learn if you pay attention. That’s why I suggest you develop the habit of a daily commitment to learning and self-improvement.

What does it mean to have a “daily commitment” to learning? While I do believe it’s a little different for everyone, here are a few guidelines that will provide some direction.  First, decide what you want to learn more about. Are you interested in healthy eating? What about your community or even history? Professionally, you may want to learn more about technology or becoming a better salesperson. Whatever it is, you need to pick a topic(s) or you’ll wander aimlessly allowing yourself to become easily distracted.

Next, identify a handful of resources that provide information related to this topic. I recommend that you first consider a book on the subject and then supplement this with additional sources of meaningful information including magazine articles, topical blogs, seminars, a newspaper or a conversation with a friend who is an expert on the issue. Please note that I didn’t include the evening news, Twitter® or a posting on Facebook®. These are all fun diversions, but rarely provide an in-depth discussion on any one topic.

You don’t have to read a book a week, get a PhD or become a self-help junkie. All you need is a commitment to learn something meaningful each day. As with most things in life, the solution is simple. All you need to do is choose to execute. Choose wisely.

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