When I look back on my life choices in 2010-2011, I shudder. I wasted so much time that could have been put to better use. I could have sped up my progress in my business, physical, social, and emotional life in such rapid ways by changing my actions that it almost makes me sick.
There isn’t much I can do about my past save for learn from it, and I intend to do that to the fullest. My principal problem back then was the massive consumption of information. If Leonardo Da Vinci was alive, he’d be astonished at the breadth of topics I was covering 😉
I held two mistaken beliefs:
- More information = better
- Information is what you need to succeed
Both of these are incredibly dangerous beliefs, especially because they are so well ingrained in our culture. We believe we need to go to college, get an internship, read another book, or watch a video before we’re ready to take action.
The truth is that nothing matters but action. Sure, you need to strategize and develop good plans…of action. In my past, my actual activities have been so incredibly skewed towards consumption vs. action that it’s a surprise that I got anything done at all.
There are 2 states you can be in: consumption and production. Now it’s not great to be in production mode 24/7, but it certainly beats being in consumption mode 24/7. There’s a great quote by Abraham Lincoln that illustrates this:
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening my axe.
What Honest Abe is getting at here is that both passive consumption of information (how to sharpen an axe, best way to cut down a tree, etc) and active, inefficient production (chopping away with a dull blade) are bad strategies.
What we need to be doing less of is consuming information that we are not going to put into action in the very near future.
It’s fine to read a book, blog article, or watch a video if you’re about to go USE that information to cement it into your brain.
It’s generally bad to read an article because you “might need it in the future.” Save it in your favorite bookmarking app and get back to it when you actually need it (or use a system similar to how I read).
There are a few reasons that I believe this is the best way to go.
You will forget most things.
Take almost any class you took in college. How much do you retain the week after the final? If you’re like me, the answer is about 50% or so…and that’s after a single week.
You are wasting energy.
You are wasting mental cycles and time on things that are irrelevant. Not only that, but you’re cluttering your brain with a bunch of theories, concepts, and ideas that are not useful unless they are “plugged in” to a greater framework.
No matter what you’re working on, be it marketing, science, logic, music, etc, each concept that you take in needs to be plugged into a framework of mental models that holds all of the other concepts in that discipline in relation to each other. That’s the only way you can develop a mastery level of expertise in any topic.
It’s very hard to “plug concepts in” if you’re picking up various concepts from different disciplines at random times and only putting about 10% of them into direct action.
OK, that’s enough. Close this article and put something into action.