To Read or Not To Read
When it comes to getting things going as it relates to “The Slight Edge”, I recently had an experience where Fate stepped in to help push me in the right direction.
I have not yet reached the second part of “The Slight Edge” entitled “Living the Slight Edge” so I have not read how the author recommends tackling the challenge of squeezing all of the habits that need to be developed into a daily routine. I am certainly anxious to see what he has to say on that subject! But for now, I am working things out on my own.
For example, one “daily discipline” referenced early on in “The Slight Edge” is the idea of building the habit of reading educational or developmental material on a daily basis. The idea of the compound effect this will have on an individual over the course of their lifetime is profound and speaks directly to what the Slight Edge is all about – Get a little better every day! Sounds easy enough…
But here’s the problem: I’m a SLOW READER! There…I admitted it… Don’t get me wrong, I’m a good reader and feel that I am very solid at comprehending and retaining the material. I’m just S-L-O-W. My wife has even joked that she can see my lips moving while I’m reading! (Not true at all, but point taken my dear.) I’ve made efforts in the past to improve my speed reading, but always feel like I’m losing comprehension. So I’ve settled on the fact that I’m simply a slow reader. That doesn’t mean I can’t develop the habit as recommended in the book, it simply means that I will either have to spend a lot more time reading OR won’t get through as much material as I would like. So many books, so little time.
That’s where Fate stepped in to help me out.
The other night, my wife and I were invited to a dinner & wine tasting with a handful of my wife’s friends/colleagues that she’s gotten to know through her work. There were 10 of us there – all married couples. To ensure that each couple didn’t simply spend the night talking to his or her respective spouse, we decided to mix up the seating so no couples were sitting next to each other. As luck (or Fate) would have it, I was seated at the right hand of our host for the evening. He is a prominent Dallas-area physician, is Chief Medical Officer for a number of companies, is a successful entrepreneur, appears to be physically fit and has a great wife and family as well. In other words, he struck me as someone who was already living the Slight Edge philosophy!
The doctor and I had never met, so this gave us a great opportunity to get to know one another. Towards the end of the evening, we somehow got on the topic of books we’re reading. I brought up “The Slight Edge” and described what I liked about it. He pulled up his phone and immediately went to Amazon and downloaded a copy of the book. With his phone up, he then started scrolling through page after page of titles in his digital library; recommending titles to me as he went. I was astonished at the number of books in his library.
“How much reading do you do?” I asked.
“Well, I guess I read about a book a week,” he replied.
“Wow – that really is a lot of reading. I would love to be able to do that. But with everything you have going on, HOW DO YOU FIND THE TIME?”
He told me that the majority of his “reading” is actually through audiobooks. I nodded along. When I was working, I would occasionally use audiobooks to help with my commute, but I still didn’t see how this was going to get me to a book a week.
“The trick is to not listen to it at regular speed. You need to listen to it at DOUBLE speed.”
Blank stare from me. Huh?
“Check this out,” he said and he pulled up his audible.com app on his phone. Sure enough, there was a little button that allowed you to increase the rate of speed at which you were listening to the audiobook.
Then he summed it up for me like this….
“Think how slowly someone reads the text on an audiobook. Your brain can process someone reading to you at a much faster rate than they do on an audiobook. Start by listening at 1.5X. Once you’re used to that speed, switch up to 2X. I listen while I’m working out or just doing stuff around the house. At 2X speed, I can get through a 6 hour audiobook in 3 hours! Plus, I haven’t lost anything on the retention side of things. THAT’s how I have time to get through a book a week!”
Mind. Blown. I’m sure the fact that you can listen to audiobooks at 2 or even 3 times the speed is fairly common knowledge to many people out there who consumer audiobooks regularly. But to me, this was an entirely new concept and I found it truly eye-opening (or maybe ear-opening would be more appropriate)!
Naturally, today I downloaded the Audible app and am halfway through my first book on the good doctor’s recommended reading list – “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. I don’t envision this taking away from the progress I’ll make with “The Slight Edge” or other books I will be reading, as the audiobooks fit into other parts of my day. So I view this as a BIG WIN in my efforts to be impacted by the philosophy of the Slight Edge.
The rest of the evening was great fun for everyone involved. We all came away having made new friends and it was a great success. But for me, seeing how one successful individual has found a way to give himself a slight edge will be the ripple effect that will have the most lasting impact.
And I owe THAT to Fate stepping in and making sure I was placed in the proper seat for the evening.