It’s been reported adults average 11 hours of media consumption a day. The research shows the majority of this consumption only adds to the stress and anxiety of our life. Does all this information provide any value in my life?

What I’ve learned is the more access to information we have in our lives the louder the noise seems to get. It’s hard to figure out what we need to do in all of that noise.

So a few years ago I decided to work to consume more valuable content by reading more books. I’ve written about how I built this habit into my life in previous articles. After reading a book a week for three years, I’ve learned that reading can become noise as well. My problem wasn’t necessarily how much I was reading it was how I was reading. Whether it’s reading books, listening to podcasts, or reading social media newsfeeds- it’s how we consume the content that matters.

Two Ways to Read a Book

“Don’t mistake activity for achievement.”- John Wooden

Back in 2006 I read Wooden on Leadership by the great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. Still to this day I believe it’s one of the best leadership books I’ve ever read and back then I thought so as well. I picked it up 10 years later to read it once again and found the pages highlighted, notes written in the margins, and sticky tabs among the pages. All that sounds great and very intentional, except the book hadn’t been opened in the last 10 years.

As I re-read the book, I realized something even worse, very few of the principles and strategies were ever applied. If I had cut out the noise of social media and even other leadership books and just worked at applying Wooden’s lessons in my own coaching I would have grown as a coach much quicker. Instead, I got lost in the noise.

My argument here isn’t about the number of books we read in a year, but the way in which we read those books. If we engage in a great book in the right way the authors won’t just speak to us, but they can actually mentor us.

Some of My Mentors

John Wooden

James Clear

Brené Brown

Bob Goff

Daniel Coyle

These are some of the mentors I’ve had in my life. They’ve helped me transform myself as a coach, leader, father, and husband.  Reading can provide a person with more knowledge, but wisdom can only be gained through experience. My transformation started to happen when I used the messages from these authors to help reflect, refine, and recommit to the necessary changes I needed to make.

So I started to be more purposeful by continuing to lean into experiences and challenges, while reading the advice of some of the greatest minds out there to help me reflect and grow from those experiences.

My Process

  1. Take Notes: Underline, write in the margins, and highlight the book. At the end of the book I review these and compile them into Evernote or Google Doc.
  2. Journal: Every morning I reflect on the various things I have read and what advice they are offering.
  3. Write: I write weekly articles, content for podcasts, and formal systems for leaders to implement. By creating content for others, I gain a deeper understanding of how these lessons apply to us.
  4. Discussion: I seek out conversations with friends and mentors unpacking the book together to help make the connections in our own lives