Speed Reading and its Trap

The key to learning how to read faster is simple:

Stop sub-vocalizing.

This means stop pronouncing words in the back of your throat as you read them. To accomplish this requires a bit of work, but it results in a dramatic increase in reading speed. Plus it has the added benefit of being engaged with the text, as your content intake will be able to keep up with the speed at which your brain processes information.

I had been very fortunate to have a quick speeding read growing up, but I still trained myself to boost my reading speed* and now read an average of 650-800 words per minute. This sounds great, considering the amount of content available today, but it has its drawbacks.

Being able to comfortably read at a fast speed works wonders for devouring fiction books as it allows you to stay immersed in the text.

Where it becomes a problem is non-fiction books.

Why?

When you’re reading non-fiction, the author is asking you to think through and process the information being shared. When you power through texts at a quick speed, there’s only time to comprehend what is read, but not enough time is spent thinking it through.

Works of non-fiction need to sink-in, work with the ideas already in your head, and build neuropathways that make sense to your brain. That’s how knowledge gets built and how your brain stays sharp.

There’s a time to speed and a time to slow down. Know the difference between the two.

Book Worm
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 *I share no affiliate with the company, but offer it as a potential solution to those wanting to learn how to speed read. It’s the program I personally used.

Are You Sure You Want to be Famous?

Being in a high school, I’m exposed to some incredibly amazing students every day.

One of the common things I hear is their aspiration to be “really famous” for something: acting, music, comedy, science or whatever. However, I don’t think they know the full extent of what being famous entails.

I want to pre-empt this next part with the following analogy I saw on Pinterest:

peaches quote

The problem is when you become famous, you’re going to discover many people who hate peaches.

Think about the number of celebrity gossip magazines, tabloids and websites out there right now that follow every waking breath of the people of Hollywood. Think about the amount of bashing people do towards famous artists, regardless of what industry they’re in.

Once you get popular enough, people are just going to hate you.

I spent many years working on my craft of writing and the very first post I did for Lifehack was met with some very negative comments online. Yes, I made a few grammatical errors and there’s one section I wish I could rewrite (something I fixed for my future posts), but the backlash was astounding. People emailed me to, “F*** off and leave writing for the pros,” and also to tell me “It’s no surprise they pay you so little for this garbage.” I didn’t receive the same backlash for my second article - people just ripped it off and posted it to their sites without my permission.

I won’t even begin to tell you what emails my friend Tommy v2 received when his famous article boosted him to the top 30K websites in the world.

All this to say, if you want to be famous:

  • be prepared for resistance
  • be prepared for the hate
  • have really thick skin
  • leverage your popularity wisely

Otherwise, the masses will drag you down into turmoil.

Rebuild Your Focus: Start Reading

Focus is such a cherished trait to have today.

With the endless noise and distractions vying for your attention, being able to focus on a single task seems like a distant ideal. Even spending time reading an article online, much like this one, doesn’t always work out because of the sheer volume of other articles begging to be read.

So what do we do?

We check the headline and skim the article. If it goes on too long, you close the tab and go on to do something else (the Internet slang for this is TL:DR – too long: didn’t read).

However, this only gives us a superficial reading of content and while some articles are purely dribble in themselves, merely conduits to encourage traffic, we lose something. We lose our ability to focus on something for longer than fifteen seconds, which is the average for Internet readers.

How Can We Change This?

We start making gradual changes towards reprogramming our brain for deeper focus.

The first step in this process is to commit to fully reading every article you click through. Don’t click away, don’t skim and don’t scroll to see how long the article is – read it in its entirety.

This will accomplish two things:

  1. It will help you naturally filter out the unwanted websites and articles that are already wasting your time.
  2. It will help your critical thinking process, which will build neuro-pathways in the brain and re-build your focus muscle.

Happy reading.

And another business day is almost over...
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The Next Generation is Here

Sometimes when I think the troubles of the world are overwhelming and the fight seems hopeless, a wake-up call comes my way.

This year I was honoured to take a group of students to the National WE Day in Canada – a movement started by Free the Children where young people need to earn their ticket to attend.

How do they earn it?

They must commit to either global causes or issues in their own community. In one year, students raised over $37 million dollars for charity!

To be in the room with 16,000 young people who were fired up and ready to change the world… well… let’s just say my cynicism about the world evaporated. The next generation isn’t here to lead tomorrow -

they’re already leading today.

weday

What Safe Really Means

Safe is always going with the flow, hoping the flow will keep going in the same direction.

Safe is not taking risks, heading into new territory, making new discoveries, questioning current assumptions, striving to be better or challenging the status quo. It will not allow you to reach a new level of awareness in your life because you are continuously following trends.

It does mean there will be a glut of people out there who are in agreement with you. It allows you to avoid the feeling of uncertainty, even though there are no guarantees in life about anything. It keeps you out of harms way at the expense of never exposing yourself to experiences that are perceived to be a threat to safety.

Safe keeps changing according to the outliers of society who push the boundaries of what the new safe means for today.

If you want to stay safe, be prepared to change your idea of it and you should be okay.

Safe Fortress
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What’s the Next Step?

The common advice splattered over many blog posts is to get started on something.

Regardless of what that is, the important part is to take that crucial first step. Don’t take it tomorrow, or a week from now, but right away because you’re still excited.

However, after the excitement wears off and you’re unsure of how to proceed, what step do you take next?

This is a danger zone because the obvious answer is to do some research. However, the information right now is so abundant (and sometimes contradictory) that you just don’t know what direction to follow. Long story short, you get overwhelmed and don’t do anything.

While it’s good to keep the bigger picture in mind and keep yourself motivated, the next step is simple:

Do something that will challenge yourself just a little out of your comfort zone.

Once you get comfortable with that step, challenge yourself again.

Gringo
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Letting Your Ego Get in the Way

When we always have a need to be right, to be in control and to accept our way is the best way to make things happen, we miss out.

We miss out on an opportunity to learn something new.

We miss out on an opportunity to grow.

We miss out on making a connection with another person.

We miss out on an opportunity to be humbled and become better for it.

Sometimes, we’re determined to prove our answer is right and would be willing to fight for it until others concede. Even if we never prove it to be correct, our ego can tell us the problem is with everyone else.

It’s not the fault of our ego – it’s very fragile and needs to protect itself. However, when you push it out of the way, you open yourself up to the richness of the reality surrounding you and not the reality you surround yourself with.

The Introvert B3
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Let Your Daydream Solidfy Into an Idea

If there was a way to earn a doctorate in daydreaming, I would’ve earned two… and received honorary ones from other universities as well.

While daydreams are a distraction from doing the work that needs to get done, there is a way to use them for your benefit.

It has the unlimited potential and ability to go unfettered in any direction and you should spend some time with it every day and let it run wild. Have it go through the crazy ideas and follow them to their end. It doesn’t matter if it’s realistic or not, just play it through.

Next, begin to write it down and see if you can make it work on paper.

It might take a thousand attempts, but keep going and you will hit a ground breaking idea.

Then – do it again.

127/365  "In dreams, we enter a world that's entirely our own."
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Understanding the Big Picture

Before you take any small detail personally, ask yourself the following question:

“What is really going on here?”

Too often we get wrapped up in the minutia of life’s daily grind and fail to see beyond the small points that are bothering us. Other times we look too much at the big picture and forget it’s the little details that build to it.

As long as you keep the question in mind, the big picture should be clear alongside the actions you need to take to get there.

To get wrapped up in the drudgery of frustration, where many people like to sit and complain, will always leave you miserable.

Step outside of yourself when things are going awry, ask the question and re-assess whether it’s worth continuing.

Drowning under a mountain of paper
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Learn to Block out the Noise

“The economy is terrible.”

“War is happening.”

“The world is spiralling out of control.”

“You need to live your passion.”

“You are inadequate.”

“This new device is revolutionary.”

“There’s a secret they don’t want you to know.”

If any of the above statements, or something similar, are followed by:

“…therefore, you must buy,” or “…therefore, you must buy into,”

you can promptly ignore it.

After Christmas sale
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