For the next 15 seconds, I want you to think about every big new idea you’ve learned in just the last 5 years of your life. Then I want you to ask yourself: Did I really have to wait all that time to learn all of those insightful ideas and big breakthroughs?
The answer is probably not.
This is something I think about all the time. I’ve constantly been introduced to new ideas that have significantly made my life better. And the only thing I can think about when this happens is, why did it take me so long to learn those ideas?
Whether it’s writing, business, or health, I could’ve easily started my journey 5 years earlier than I did and be a lot further ahead than I am now. But the problem was I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Looking back, I realize that I was just too slow of a learner. I wasn’t curious enough.
Unfortunately, this is how most people are. Most people don’t try to actively seek out new ideas or new ways of doing things. Instead, most people just spend most of their time trying to figure things out on their own.
If, however, you want to be able to achieve in 6 months what takes most people 10 years to achieve, then you need to cut the learning curve. In order to cut the learning curve and minimize the number of mistakes you’ll make, you need to do one thing: You need to read a lot. Reading books and articles from individuals who have done what you are looking to do will cut the learning curve by months, years, even decades for you.
For example, when I decided to start publishing on LinkedIn a few years ago, I set the goal of eventually becoming a LinkedIn Top Voice. LinkedIn Top Voice is an award that LinkedIn gives to their top writers, based on engagement. The only problem though is that building and growing an audience on a platform takes years. Being new to writing, I knew I didn’t want to spend all that time trying to learn everything there was to learn about writing and LinkedIn publishing through trial and error. So, I read everything I could about writing from those who were successfully doing it. I read books about how to write and what it takes to become a successful writer. I read articles by fellow Top Voices. I took online courses. I joined webinars. And I listened to people who had amassed 100,000 + readers to see what they were doing successfully.
I learned from as many people as I could and then applied what I learned. And 4 months later, I was named a LinkedIn Top Voice. Something that should’ve taken me years to accomplish only took me a few months.
Understand, whatever your goals are in life, there are two ways of achieving them: There’s the long conventional path. And then there’s the shorter less conventional path. The long conventional path is the result of not being someone who actively seeks out new ideas. The long conventional path is what happens when you think you don’t have to read about other successful people in your field or listen to those who are 20, 30 years down your same path.
This is the penalty of not reading and having to learn everything the hard way. The penalty of trying to do everything through trial and error is that you will have to achieve everything you’re going to achieve 20 times slower. Save yourself the time and effort and remember what Socrates once said, “Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.”
If you resonated with this article then join thousands of others who have subscribed to my book club where I talk about the best ideas from the books I read.
Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.