A little story
Once upon a time there was a young warrior. He was proud of his name. He called himself the Read More Warrior. He wanted to help people to read more books. He gave tips & tricks to read more and recommended great books, all under the notion of trying to get people to read more.
Why did he think that reading more books was so important? Well, somehow reading a lot of books had became a part of his life, a part of his personality. That was because some of the books he read changed his life radicly. He became interested in the notion that books can lead to radicle change in peoples life. So he thought: “Wow, these books changed my life, I should read more books and then my life will improve even more”. For a while he foccused on reading as much books as possible. He chose often smaller books because they were easier and in that way his book count would increase faster. Then he could boast about his reading rate. With the motivation to read more books, he stumbled across a certain technique called speedreading and applied it right at that moment. The amount of books he read in one month skyrocketed. Until one day he felt something was wrong. He decided to do what he often did when he felt something was wrong: he went to the Old Magnolia Tree.
Arriving at the Old Magnolia Tree, to his surprise he smelled rotting flowers and saw that the tree was not doing well. Next to the tree, a wizard was looking at the tree. When the wizard noticed the warrior, he approached him and said, “Hello ambitious warrior I’m the Learn More Wizard, what is your name?”. “My name is the Read More Warrior and you seem to be a wise man. Can I ask you something? Lately, I’ve kept reading more and more books, so normally I would have come across more and more life-changing ideas right? That seemed not to be the case at all. I remember little of what I’ve read. I don’t feel like these books are part of me. I have not internalized these books. I did not do anything different after reading these books than before. I want to ask you this, is reading books a waste of time?” While saying this the warrior felt very awkward, he had recommended everyone to read more. But now his core idea was under attack. “Well,” answered the wizard “I also read a lot of books. But I read them very slowly. I want the books to become part of me. I want to internalize them. I want to do something different because of the book I read. I think your problem is that the method to obtain your goal has become the goal itself. You don’t want to read more. You want to learn more. Let me tell you a little story. Six months ago an ambitious warrior like you arrived here. His name was the Grow Fast warrior. He found this Old Magnolia Tree beautiful, but to him, it was not big enough. He knew plants needed water to grow so he decided to water the tree five times per day. He thought that then the tree will grow faster. However, the roots could not breathe because the ground was soaked all the time and the tree started to die. You can see the result of that even to this day. Remember, my dear Read More Warrior, that plants need time to grow, and so do you.” Inspired by the wizard, the Read More Warrior acknowledged the fact that he needed to read slower to learn more. Suddenly, as if by magic, one flower blossomed on the Old Magnolia Tree.
Most of us (including me) want to get things done as fast as possible. We want quick fixes, shortcuts, and instant gratification. These things are often very seductive, but there is a better way: slow steady growth. Slow steady growth comes forth out of the principles of Atomic Habits by James Clear and Effortless by George McKeown. Here are some personal examples of slow steady growth.
While I was still playing basketball, I often sprained my ankle. Using an ankle brace to avoid spraining the ankle again was very common and even recommended by my doctor. So, I started to use a brace. However, the problem was that the brace makes your ankle weaker. The brace absorbs the impact and the ankle gets lazy. Many of my fellow basketball players were dependent on their braces, some of them even used the braces for just going for a run. I was fortunately spared of that. I was lucky, because a good friend of mine, who was a volleyball player, recommended me to start brushing my teeth like a flamingo, on one leg. It seemed silly at first, but by trying it and keeping with it, my ankle became stronger and my balance improved drastically. When I learned to slackline later, I had a great advantage over other beginners because I had trained my balance twice a day for years, without enormous effort. That is the power of slow steady growth.
In the first year of university, I gained some weight, like many other students. This resulted in laughter at the gala ball when my friends noticed that my suit trousers were too tight at my but. This was probably because of the food I ate because I exercised as much as the year before. A friend of mine asked me to join his challenge of eating vegetarian for half a year. I gave it a try. At the same time, a family member was trying to lose weight by using a very intense and expensive protein diet. He lost weight rapidly, but after a month he couldn’t keep up with it so he stopped. Soon he was back at the weight he started with. It was not my goal with my vegetarian diet to lose weight, nevertheless, I did. After the challenge, I kept eating vegetarian because it seemed not to be a burden to me. I got interested in eating as much plant-based as possible and I worked very gradually toward a vegan diet, finding alternatives for animal-based food one product at a time. All the while I slowly went back to my pre-university weight. That was the power of slow steady “growth”.
Becoming A Writer
The dream of writing a book has been in my head for a while. The problem is, I don’t know exactly about what and I don’t have that much writing experience. However, by writing daily for this blog I practice my writing skills and I get ideas for a book here and there. In that way, I hope this blog will prove to be a good investment to achieve my dream. That will hopefully be the power of slow steady growth.
F**k speed reading
Speed reading. You’ve probably already heard about it. It originates from a good thing. Namely, that you want to read more, but probably can’t find the time to do so. Speedreading is the solution! Or at least, that’s what some speedreading gurus want to sell you.
Let me ask you a question. What do you want? Spending 2 months reading just one book or spending one week reading 3 books? If you are like me, you would have probably chosen the last one. I have also fallen into the trap of wanting to read more and more. I was even reading smaller books so that in that way I can read more books. In that way, I can show people my bookshelf and say, “Look how many books I’ve read!” However, it misses the point completely. Yeah, maybe it can be a good idea to read more books, but you should not read books just to read books. You should read books to learn something, to do something, to experiment with something.
Maybe I should rename this blog to the Read Slow Warrior.
The good things of speed reading
I must admit, speed reading is not all bad, I’ve read some books on speed reading and although I’m not a big fan of speed reading, some of the concepts in these books have stayed with me.
“The preparation: read the back cover, index, and table of contents first.”
“Scan through the book to have a general view of the chapters and more importantly the visual graphs and figures.”
These are two things I do with every book I read. There is also one other thing I have learned from the speedreading books but this is not always recommended.
“Skim through the book, and skip uninteresting parts.”
At first, it sounded very convincing to me that it was very important that you have to skim through the uninteresting parts of a book. But a post of Ryan Holiday made me think about it a bit more. In the case that you have to skip parts because it is not interesting or it is not written well enough, is this book really worth your time? That’s what you should think about.
For the ones that want radicle change
If you really feel like slow steady growth is nothing for you and you need radicle change then I can recommend you some things.
- Read the book The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau and apply the principles.
- Stop letting social media use you
- Shave yourself bald
Give yourself 1 month the time to read the book that is on the top of your “want to read” list. Fully immerse yourself in the book during the full month.