Kevin is always reading. When he’s not working on emails, he’s got his phone out, absorbing content.
The problem is, nothing Kevin is reading is really sharpening his mind. It’s more of an escape. There’s nothing wrong with that except Kevin has become an escape artist. He’s consuming content, but it is not the right content that will actually help him develop.
He wonders why he’s stuck in his career. Imagine that. He has simply stopped developing in a way that sets him apart. Kevin is missing a huge element, which is the fifth energy habit: develop. I’m amazed at how little most business travelers actually read. What? Doesn’t scrolling social media count as reading? C’mon, man. I’m talking about a good old-fashioned book. I’ll even count an educational article or blog post.
The key here is to LEARN.
I can already hear the pushback. When do I have time to read, especially on the road? Let me remind you of the quote from the Elite Road Warrior book:
If you want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.
You make time for things that are important to you. I sit by guys on the plane every single flight who waste hours and miss opportunities to develop, even small amounts of time like 30 minutes. Dude, you can get back to binge- watching Game of Thrones or Ballers or ladies, back to This Is Us or Love It or List It.
Five Reasons Why Personal Development is a Challenge
Most people I’ve found simply don’t see the value. They’ve learned what they’ve learned and are okay with where they’re at in their life. If they don’t care, personal development is simply not going to happen.
This is usually the number one reason I hear. “When could I possibly fit this luxury into my life?” I argue if you desire personal development and value it, you will MAKE the time. If our attitude is “when I find the time” it will never happen. By the way, I’ve never ever “found time.”
If we have the desire to personally develop and find the time, being inconsistent can be a huge challenge. We start and stop then start again and never gain momentum because we’re just not consistent enough.
I have found this one is ultimately the downfall to someone who values personal development. We have SO many interests so we bounce around from one thing to another. Nothing gets completed and although we’re developing personally and growing, it’s limited because we don’t have a plan.
If you leave your growth to randomness you’ll always live in the land of mediocrity – Brendon Burchard
Someone who is “too much” into personal development which can consume all of your time and overwhelm everyone else. Instead of encouraging it becomes over-dominating.
If learning is a priority for you, then you will make, not find, the time. (Seriously, when has anyone FOUND time and if they did, can you let me know where?) Most people don’t like to read because they were scarred in school being forced to read content they did NOT want to read and didn’t see the relevancy. I’ll give you that, but they’ve kept that mindset decades later.
Two Keys to Sharpen the Mind by Reading
1. FIND SOMETHING YOU ENJOY
This is entry-level reading. This could be absolutely anything. It could be an autobiography. It could be a book that’s been made into a movie.
Let me give you an example. I’m a Chicago sports fanatic, so when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, this city became absolutely unglued. The celebration parade in downtown Chicago was the fifth- largest recorded gathering of mankind in history. So, I wanted to know more about the back-story of the complete rebuild of the team. I found a book called The Plan by David Kaplan, and I was absolutely lost in the book. It was a blast to read because I enjoyed the subject.
If you’re just starting out, find something you enjoy to get you INTO the habit of reading. Even when you become an avid reader, finding a book like I found on sports is a good escape, especially before bed. But don’t stop there. There’s a ton of money left on the table if you don’t do the second key…
2. FIND SOMETHING YOU WANT TO LEARN
This is next level, kiddos. It could be for your job/career or to develop a new skill. The topics are endless, and this is where most business professionals wonder why they’re still stuck in their job, like Kevin. Most only read what is required of them instead of reading to get ahead.
Here’s the Key: They Learn for Survival Not Success.
If and when you change your mindset to reading for success, everything changes. You’re automatically ahead of almost everyone since almost no one reads. So, find a subject you want to learn and crack open that book!
How do you pull this off while on the road? You need to answer these four questions:
1. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO READ?
You need a plan. Find what you enjoy and what you want to learn, as mentioned above, and then dive into the book. Consider it part of your road thing.
2. WHERE CAN YOU FIND WHAT TO READ?
I love this question! There are a few ways to acquire this intel:
Online Research – go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble site or iBooks. Find a genre and start doing some simple research. With the Amazon tracking intelligence, in a matter of moments, you’ll be fed “You May Also Like” recommendations. Due to the vastness of the online market, you can find a number of book possibilities without having to go anywhere.
Traditional Bookstore – Go old school. I absolutely enjoy going to an actual Barnes and Noble on the road as a downtime activity in the evening. I’ll take an hour, find my genre favorites (business/psychology/health/nutrition/sports), buy a hot tea (de-caffeinated), find a chair, and flip through the pages. I could easily lose an hour and it creates SO much energy for me. Another low- hanging fruit option is an airport bookstore. The selection is limited but you’d be surprised how many new books will catch your interest. I’ll often go into these stores for 5-10 minutes during my walk time before a flight or on my way to the gate. It’s another way to find additional book options. Don’t limit yourself.
3. IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN LISTEN TO AUDIBLY?
I’m a HUGE fan of audio, mostly because of the convenience. I’m usually on the move more than I am sitting down, so why not make the movement an advantage for me?
As a result, I’ll find whatever book version I can and listen to the audiobook. Often, I’ll get both the book and the audio. Sounds redundantly redundant, but hang with me. If I’m traveling, I can often crank through a ton of audio, but I’ll want to go back and grab key concepts. This is where the printed version comes into the picture. I can go back and do a quick review of what I’ve listened to because it’s fresh in my mind, and I can easily find the key concepts I want to record for my notes. Make sense? As the saying goes, “Don’t knock it till you try it!”
There are also some great podcasts that can serve as a learning platform. They work great because of the shorter length, and you can find specific topics that interest you so you can dive right in and learn. If you’re not listening to the Elite Road Warrior Podcast, this is a great place to start! Episodes average around 30 minutes so you can get in and out.
Audible (owned by Amazon) is an audiobook library that is absolutely amazing. For a monthly subscription, you can get credits and choose books. They’ll send you a free credit for an audiobook from time to time and they will offer discounts for 3 credits if you’re an Amazon Prime member. This is definitely worth the investment to develop both personally AND professionally on the road.
In fact, the Elite Road Warrior book is available on Audible and has been the #1 way business travelers are reading the book due to the convenience.
4. WHEN CAN YOU MAKE TIME TO READ?
Did you catch that? MAKE time to read. Create time blocks to schedule your day so you can tackle reading.
Let me give you an example. I have at least two reading times each day: first thing in the morning during my energy hour; then, if I’m flying that day, I use the flight time, usually the first 30 minutes, as my second reading time. If it’s not a flight day, I’ll carve a second reading time block in my day where I know I need to conserve energy and a reading block will be a good break for me to develop.
Another reading time was referenced in the last point with audiobooks. As road warriors, usually, our schedules are rather predictable. Let me give you my predictable audio times to develop:
- In my car driving to the airport.
- Walking to security and to my gate.
- Walking around before I board since I prefer NOT to sit down but to a MOVE action item.
- If I rent a car, I’ll choose something audio to learn rather than getting lost in sports or talk radio, which is SO easy for me to do.
- Many road warriors have a territory and do a ton of driving. They often drive between to cities (I often fly into Cincinnati, then drive to Columbus, then to Cleveland). This is a perfect time to knock out an entire audiobook. This type of road warrior can seriously leverage their windshield time with a mobile classroom.
- Standing in line is a short but great opportunity to catch a few paragraphs. I’ve knocked out chapters of a book just waiting. I have the Kindle app and sometimes will choose certain books JUST for such times. I can quickly pull up the book on an app and be reading in seconds. Note: this also dramatically helps my impatience during these times when I sadly analyze the inefficiency that is causing the wait!
James Clear has a perfect article called “Seven Ways to Retain More of Every Book You Read,” which I highly suggest checking.
BABY STEP TO SHARPEN THE MIND
I realize you’re more likely to go to bed early or eat brussel sprouts than you are to pick up a book. So, if that’s the case, simply find something you like to read and start there. The fact that you are reading this article is huge, so you’re on your way. Now, keep the momentum going and create a plan.
1. Find something to read that you enjoy and want to learn.
2. Determine when you will make time to read and what you can listen to audibly.
3. Download the free Personal Development Plan (PDP) when you request it.