I enjoy reading. In 2011, I read 40 books (if you would like to see a list for some ideas of what to read, check out my page on GoodReads.com) Many people I hear about online have set a goal of reading a book a week, 52 per year. While that is a great goal, I have decided to step back an reevaluate my reading habits. Why am I reading? What am I getting out of the books? Can I apply any of the ideas?
Most of the books I read are non-fiction and related in some way to business. I always take notes and often in a very specific way. The problem is, all I have are the notes. Whatever I have learned from that book is useless unless I put it to use. This year, 2012, I have decided to read far fewer books, reread some books (which I would have never done in the past) and apply at least one idea from every book I read and some ideas from past books. So, here it goes.
The idea I will start with is from The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander (affiliate link) page 12:
It’s all invented anyway, so we might as well invent a story or framework of meaning that enhances our quality of life and the life of those around us.
From this line, I understood the root of many of the problems I hear about and face myself. It reminds me of a quote from Henry Ford,
Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.
For years, I believed I couldn’t. You know what? I was right, I couldn’t. I could never start a business; It is too hard, cost too much money, and I know nothing about business. I realized that my life would be the same boring thing unless something changed. I needed to apply all those years of reading and studying. So what if I failed? At least I tried.
Apply the Idea
To apply this idea, I decided to create a framework that enhances my quality of life, the quality of life for those around me, and encourages me to create and grow. Practically speaking, I have reduced or eliminated certain phrases and words from my vocabulary (“I can’t do that” was replaced with “I haven’t done it yet” and “I’m terrible at that” was replaced with “I have not devoted the time and attention to improve”). I am more optimistic and what I say reflects that new view point. I rarely if ever complain about things I can’t change and often don’t tolerate it in others. I often challenge people to do something about their issue or stop their useless complaints. When I view a failure (in my life or others) it is merely a small setback and a learning experience.
I have embraced the concept of doing something everyday that scares you. For years I was a timid person, not wanting to rock the boat or get in trouble. With my new framework, I take more risks, speak my mind more often (no one knows what you think or how you feel unless you tell them), and enjoy personal interactions more than I have for years.
I now believe that I can do just about anything if I am willing to put in the work. Putting in the time and work is crucial to success but your belief in yourself is crucial to starting. My framework does not include things being easy, just possible. It is a subtle shift in thinking but a very important one. Again, if you believe you can do something or not, you are usually right.
I choose to believe I can.