You’ve always been impressed by people who were intelligent, accomplished and always seem to have the right answers. Privately, you would ask, “How did he become so wise?” While some part of you wanted to ask the question, a more substantial part of you refused. Why, perhaps you attributed their success to some natural gift of intelligence; even good genes.
You are not alone. I also thought that people who were intelligent, accomplished and always seem to have the right answers, were gifted; and I felt I was not gifted at all. I spent the better part of my life accepting the narrative, “I would never be smart.” I was complicit with the Resistance in my self-sabotage, self-deception, and self-corruption.
Author Steven Pressfield doodles, “Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled.” Pressfield continues, “It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. It aims to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”
Beginning to understanding the mindset that leads me to believe “I was not good enough,” I started to search for people who would mentor me directly or indirectly. What I began to discover is that many of the successful people were not born smart they learned how to became smart.
How? The read, an obscene amount:
Yes, this is an obscene amount of reading, but it’s the corner-stones of their success. Warren Buffet explains, “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
When I first read that quote I was mentally paralyzed, and I asked myself, “Could it be that fundamental?”
Seneca continues the argument, “If you apply yourself to study you will avoid all boredom with life, will not long for night because you are sick of daylight, you will be neither a burden to yourself nor useless to others, you will attract many to become your friends and the finest people will flock about you.”
Yes, knowledge accumulates from believable sources and people who are smarter than you. And while you can spend countless hours searching for mentors, people to help you grow, you can start small, at your pace by picking up a book.
But to build your knowledge-base you must be deliberate:
Once you are reading, sip the book. Take notes in the margin. Write questions at the bottom of the page. Research unfamiliar topics. Create an alternate index. Go to the bibliography a choose your next book to read. Rinse and repeat.
I read an inspirational quote from Mark S A Smith on Twitter, “Reading science, math, & philosophy 1 hour per day will put you at the upper echelon of human success within 7 years.” It’s a powerful statement but what if you took on the challenge? Who would you become? What opportunities would you encounter? When would you exceed your dreams? Where would you be?
Remember Buffett stated, “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.” Why don’t you start compounding interest, now? Why not stop being impressed by people who are intelligent, accomplished and always seem to have the right answers; when you can be that person.
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