One of the Cheapest Ways to Kick-Start Improvement
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Yesterday, I published an article on the easiest way to inspire yourself, and be a force of inspiration for the people around you. Today’s piece is going to touch on a very similar theme, but we’re going to dive into some more specifics, as well as mention some authors that have been an influential force in recent years.
In a lot of ways, it’s the same piece of advice. If you want to improve, you need to keep your brain stimulated. One of the easiest ways to make this happen is to read… and read the right authors. The science behind this shows that reading both increases your productivity and brain function, but it also makes you more relaxed than other means of relaxation. A University of Sussex study showed that reading reduces stress levels by as much as 68%. This is particularly interesting when you look at their comparisons with listening to music, which reduced stress by 61%, and taking a walk which was rated at around 42%.
Nowadays, there’s a variety of ways to engage with written material. You’ve got paperbacks, ebooks and audiobooks, so there’s no excuse to not have something in the background to keep your brain stimulated. The trick is to get yourself into what’s known as a deep reading pattern- the zone, if you will.
On any given day, you’re bombarded with text from every direction. Five minutes on a smartphone and you might have come across hundreds of words, but you wouldn’t have properly absorbed them. It takes on average 15-20 minutes-worth of focus to get into this deep reading pattern, but once you’re in, you’ll find yourself tearing through page after page.
Time Magazine’s Annie Murphy Paul argues that “‘deep reading’ - as opposed to the often superficial reading we do on the web - is an endangered practice, one we ought to take steps to preserve as we would a historic building or a significant work of art.”
“Its disappearance would imperil the intellectual and emotional development of generations growing up online, as well as the perpetuation of a critical part of our culture,” she continues to explain. As you can see, it’s an essential part of brain training to get into this deep reading zone and really connect with a long-form piece of literature.
Now let's move on to the authors that i’m being inspired by at the moment. Neil Patel is someone that deserves a special mention in this space. His work has been absolutely invaluable when it comes to marketing, as does Seth Godin’s work on how to more effectively target your audience. Simon Sinek has given me a really unique take on the reason why people are buying into your business, and then there’s the usual host of business-gurus like Tony Robbins, Grant & Elena Cardone, Gary Vaynerchuck and Brendon Burchard… Daniel Kahneman’s work with ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ is something that warrants a special mention, as well as popular economist-authors like Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt - responsible for Freakonomics - who bring an academic-based approach to studying trends in business.
You never want to take the advice word for word each and every time, it’s not as simple as that, but you do want to think about how you can recontextualise their advice into your professional and personal life. The biggest of changes are started by even the most microscopic of nudges in the right direction- so pick up a book from one of the authors I’ve mentioned today, and start walking in a more productive, rewarding and profitable direction.