Five Ideas To Jump Your Professionalism Right Now

I'm sitting here in my kitchen drinking my second cup of coffee, reflecting. I am thinking about the one or two things that seriously changed my life--both professionally and personally--that I did what looks like a long time ago.

As I am reflecting about these things, I am thinking, no, I am wondering, why no one else does them. Perhaps it is because people don't know about these things. To me, today, they are obvious. That's because time has created a habit, a universal law for me, that tricks my mind into believing that these things are too basic and that everyone knows about them.

What time has also done--and I mention time here twice for an important reason--is it has created an accumulation effect. Like muscle, it has allowed the action to build upon itself day after day creating momentum, like a little snowball rolling down a long mountain picking up speed and more snow until the little snowball is massive. Except this snowball is rolling down a mountain that goes on forever, or until you die or stop doing the action. Time has allowed knowledge to build upon knowledge upon more knowledge.

With that let me introduce the first of five things that I know will change your life.

First Idea: 
Get up every morning an hour earlier than you normally get up--before anyone in your house gets up and do this one thing: read a book. Not just any book, but a book that is related to your field. If you are in the field of management, pick up a book on management, leadership, or motivation theory. If you are in sales--read sales books. If you are a programmer--well you get the idea.

Read for this one hour. Lean into your book. And don't do anything else--(except what I tell you later below).

This one simple idea is perhaps the easiest thing to do that you will not recognize or believe the benefits that comes along with this little exercise. One hour a day every day for the rest of your life. When you get up don't turn on the radio, or the TV, or look at the news on your iPad. Make coffee of course, but open the book and read. Reading is to the brain like exercise is to the body.

Even if you were not a good reader in High School or College, you will be learning how to read better just by reading overtime.

You will become better at your job. You will know after some time reading in your field, the right things to do immediately at work when events call for action, because you have used your brain to not only learn what someone else has written, but because your brain is able to project or play out events in your mind before they actually occur, because of your reading.

You see, if you are truly reading, you are creating images in your head and playing the images out, like actors in a play. Your brain becomes wired (because of the neural paths created from thinking) to do the actions advised in these books because of the reading.

You will know the positives and negatives of such actions that others before you had. You will learn about other options, choices you have that you haven't considered, and you will feel more inspired, aligned to your work and your profession and feel compelled to be the best you could possibly be--over time.

When I learned this (I learned this from Brian Tracy and I owe him a lot) I put this idea into action immediately. It blew me away. I felt better before I went to work because the information was positive. It also made me feel better because I felt like I was on a path to somewhere--instead of drifting. I was learning from others who had gone before me and used their words as a positive coach. I want to add the word "positive"--because most good books have a positive tone through them. Any book that has a negative tone that you pick up--put it aside. This hour of the day is too very important for you to feed your mind with anything other than something inspirational, positive, or something motivational.

I added a couple of things to this idea. I went to the library and started pulling a lot of books from the shelves on leadership, management, sales, and consulting. I started there--the library first because I couldn't afford to buy the books. Later I could afford to buy the books and I did. Except my house became flooded with books. I was able to buy a bigger house (I became more successful with reading and acting upon the ideas) and built a library for all my books. Now, I am considering to go back to the public library because I have way too many books. And because of something else that made the books somewhat obsolete after I read them. By the way, the books had highlighting all the way through them. But the important thing I did was that I started taking notes. Taking notes jumped my reading, it accelerated my learning.

Accelerate Your Learning
Buy a notebook and take notes. Even if you aren't sure what to copy into your notebook do not be concerned. Start with copying whole paragraphs, even pages from the book you are reading into your notebook. This is your notebook and it acts a vehicle to cement the ideas into your brain faster and more permanently than just ordinary reading. When you take notes or copy passages, you are using
multiple senses. First, you are visually reading the material. Second, you are sub-vocalizing (auditory). And third, you are writing (kinetically). You have three modalities that are being used in concert to drive this information into your brain.

Warning: Your Mind Is Lazy and Wants To Trick You
A warning: your mind is a little lazy because you have probably not disciplined it. It will say, "Hey, why are you rewriting this material? Isn't that a little ridiculous?" Then the mind will answer it's own question: "Yes it is ridiculous. Just read, don't take notes. Besides you're wasting paper and time." Then your mind will say: "Look, over there. Isn't that the TV? Turn it on. Let's see what they are saying on the news." And soon, it will be all over.

Say to your mind, "Sure I get it. But after awhile, you'll see a difference and we will have a good new positive habit." Keep on saying this until your mind obeys.

The beauty of rewriting passages is you won't believe the difference in the meaning of a few words when you read them, and the meaning when you write them. If you read something and then copy it into the notebook, you will gain huge insights you never would have gotten by just reading the passage. This was and still is startling to me. I am often surprised and amazed what I thought the writer was intending and then later how deep her thoughts and ideas were when I rewrote them.

By the way, there is no law in rereading books. This same thing occurs later in life as you grow in your knowledge and ability. You may have skipped an entire passage earlier, but now, some time later, you will say to yourself, "This one concept is so important, how did I miss it?" That's the beauty of going back to great books.

Another advantage is you can carry notebooks as you travel and reread your notes. You can accumulate notebooks--and these become reference points over time.

I know what you may be thinking. I have an iPad, a Nook, a Kindle or some other smart device. I get that. I am not a luddite. Well maybe I am. I have two iPads and I carry them around with me when i travel as well. But to me, a book is a book is a book. Perhaps you can get the information to your notebook through you smart device--and if so--good for you.

The important thing I can tell you this one idea--reading for one hour, every morning, will blow you away. It was, and is so important that when I first heard of it I couldn't believe it. Yet, I tried it. I figured I had nothing to lose. And it set me on fire. I learned psychology and what makes people tick. I learned how to present to clients. I learned the order in which people take in information based upon the words they used. I learned that not all people think the same way I do--and that if I wanted to be more effective with colleagues, bosses, and clients, I had better become better at communicating with them. I learned leadership concepts and I learned who was full of crudola as authors and avoided them. I learned who the great thinkers were and who were the great practioners who weren't inventing things to put in a book in order to say they wrote a book.

I was so excited by this one idea that I started getting up two hours earlier than normal in order to read and study. This one idea turned my life and career around. I was heading down a path of mediocrity because where I came from no one worked too hard. Where I came from no one "made it." Success was for the other people--not us. But, I learned that others, like me, made it on their own through hard work, by not sleeping late, and doing little things, incrementally over time that made them successful. Steve Jobs didn't just one day wake up and say, "Let's make the iPhone." He too, had his trials in life. By reading, you will find everyone had their down moments and you will find they have many of the characteristics you have in them. In other words, you can do anything you put your mind to.

Try this one thing today (okay this morning is over--so try it tomorrow) and it will--I guarantee it--blow you away.

PS - I said "five things" as part of this title. Stay tuned for more of these later . . .

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