On the road to personal improvement we meet with the challenge of reading books. In Eben Pagan and Wyatt Woodsmall’s Advanced Learning & Teaching seminar they reveal how to tear through and get the meaningful meat out of books like a beast just like the pro’s do

Hey You,

It’s Lewis a.k.a. Nerd #2.

If you hate reading, you’re gonna love what you see here.

If you love to read (like I do) and you’ve got 40 books laying around you have only read 1/3 of (like I do) you’re gonna love what you see here.

What Eben and Wyatt reveal here is how to take charge and ditch all the bullshit reading habits you’ve picked up over the years that have kept you in the slow reading lane.

Now let’s get this party started by answering the question of . . .

What Is Reading All About And How Do We Use It To Learn?

In the dis-educational world we’re given things called text books.

George Bernard Shaw was known for saying . . .

“I don’t want my work in text books because I don’t want to be hated.”

The dis-educational system has a hard time teaching reading because it doesn’t understand what reading is. They confuse two things – reading and pronouncing.

Pronouncing is going from visual, digital external words on paper or auditory totally external – in other words reading is either out loud or reading in your head. And you’ll often see people reading to themselves mouthing the words.

If you learned to read this way, your reading ability has been limited because how fast you can read is restricted to how fast you can talk and this slows you down which is why it’s not the best way of reading.

What reading is really about is making a movie in your head about what you’re reading.

Think about if you’ve ever read a novel and how your eyes just breeze over the words and while you’re doing this, you’re using these words to breathe life into a movie you’re making in your mind and you’re essentially day-dreaming the novel.

You see the page but you don’t. What you really see if the movie. When you can do this with anything you read, then reading becomes fun, exciting and entertainment.

You want to practice dreaming the book. You want to directly translate the words into pictures, sounds, and other sensory experiences. This takes practice because we’ve been sub-vocalizing all of our lives.

When you read to learn you have to remember that you can’t know EVERYTHING.

Optimized learning is the process of figuring out what is important and what is NOT important and flat out ignoring what is NOT  important.

And once again, the 80/20 rule rears it’s head. 80–95% or more of any book you read is a waste of time. And only 5-20% is what you’re actually looking for.

The secrets of the universe are available to everyone. In essence, there are no secrets to the extent you’re willing to trudge through a shit-ton of boring and long books to find the kernels of wisdom to be had.

Think of the wisdom trapped inside of books as being the needle in the haystack. Now imagine how much harder it’d be to find the needle in the haystack if you didn’t even know you were looking for a needle?

If you don’t want to waste the time you spend reading, you want to be crystal clear about what it is that you’re seeking and what should be the outcome of your reading.

Then the whole time spent with the book is looking for the things that will help you achieve those outcomes.

Everything needs to be screened by your outcomes. Your outcomes, a problem you’re trying to solve, or a purpose you’re trying to fulfill in your life, are what tell you how to separate the needle from the chaff and your mind will relate certain pieces of critical information that are important and unique to your life.

Two Thoughts That Stand Between You and Wisdom

If you hide all the secrets to the universe in big boring books, people are only gonna get halfway through (probably not even that far) and they never get to the needle.

Maybe you’re going into a brand new field and everything you read is brand new to you. That’s an instance where “I know this” won’t get in your way. But if you’re pretty well versed in a topic, telling yourself, “I know this” over and over again while reading is a sure way to make sure you never find the needle.

Another road block to you finding the needle is butting your head up against something you don’t agree with. You might come to the conclusion that since you believe the author is wrong on a few points that they can’t be right about anything and you toss the book.

So you have to . . .

1) Know you outcome – know what you’re looking for.

2) Believe this person can’t be wrong about everything.

Ken Wilbur talks about how he’s found that nobody is perfect and that nobody can be wrong 100% of the time. He’s yet to find someone who’s successfully pulled that off.

So the author may be 95% wrong but you want to be seeking the 5% that is a gem of wisdom.

3) Be attuned to . . . “I Didn’t Know That.”

You want to be conscious of the things that are new to you. You want to look for what’s different than the model of world you operate from.

4) Know that some things are more important than others

You want to start putting the information contained within a non-fiction book into categories

When reading, different people have different systems.

Wyatt Woodsmall keeps pens with him when he reads. When he gets to a part that he feels is important he puts a slash running one way at the beginning of the idea and a slash the other way at the end of that section.

He then uses check marks, one, two, or three, depending how important he deems it. This way when he goes back to review the book, he’s only seeking out the starred sections.

If there’s key words there he underlines them.

One of the structures of knowledge is concepts. There is THE concept which is the main idea that everything else hangs itself around at the level of the title of the book all the way down to the title for the chapter. This can be the bottom line. It can be the gist. This is part of what you’re seeking when you read.

Another thing you’re going to find is facts. They may interesting, they may or may not be relevant.

The vocabulary is something else to keep your eyes peeled for. This is especially important when you’re going into a field you’re unfamiliar with. Knowing the vocabulary is going to be what allows you to communicate with the field. If you want to fast forward your learning in a situation where you’re brand new you want to get a hold of charts or 4-6 page summations that give you the broad view of how this world is constructed by the way they’re chunking and sequencing their information.

Next, you want to be stalking the principles. What are the laws? These are the real values. Sometimes they’re overtly displayed, sometimes they’re hidden. Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” book is broken down by each chapter being a law/success principle. And then you have a book like, “The 48 Laws Of Power” book which, within the concept, is the implication you’re going to have the principles/laws laid out for you. You want to keep in mind that a law explains and a law allows you to predict. To teach is to explain and explain is to subsume under a general law. 

Procedures are what you’re looking for next. You see these often in manuals or “How-To” books. You can think of ‘How-To’ books as procedural manuals – they teach you how to do stuff. These are some of the most popular books in the book store.

Something else along the line of procedures that you’re looking for is process. Process is how the procedures have changed over time. If you understand the process and the procedures change you can regenerate the process via procedures but if you don’t understand the process, then if the procedures change, you’ve got to re-learn everything. You want to be looking for flow charts or diagrams.

One the first categories to sift and sort out are definitions. You can write “Def” in the margin next to the copy so that you know this is where they’ve defined one of the key words that you can underline so that you can easily find it.

Knowledge Is Organized Information

You could say knowledge is data that is channeled towards reaching an outcome.

Mind-mapping a book is something he recommends and that I’ve found to be incredibly useful. It allows you to see all the concepts, definitions, laws, etc. at a glance.

You could take notes on the book like I am with this presentation. You could take notes in the book. Or you could take notes in the form of displayed thinking – or the mind map.

These are ways you can retain more of what you read. 

Learning Is Behavior Change

Information, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom are hierarchical. Each of these are a stair step level with wisdom being at the top.

The clear understanding as to whether or not you’ve attained wisdom is if your behavior has changed. If this hasn’t happened, you know haven’t learned it.

So the first step to learning is purity of intent – knowing your outcome. Purity of intent wakes your brain up. It flips the power switch to ‘on’. 

Most people have been trained in the passive manner to think they’re gonna read the words on a screen or a page and those words are just gonna go up into their head and this leads to learning. This is flawed model.

If you really want to learn you start with premise of, “If my behavior didn’t change, I didn’t learn anything and in order to learn I need to know the outcome so that as I’m looking at words my brain can take what it needs and ignore the bullshit.”

If you approach reading with the wrong mindset, you’ll keep on getting the results you’ve been getting and if that’s not what you want, you better change up.

Eben’s System of Reading A Book

The first thing you want to recognize is that book is at your service.

You don’t cater to the book – the book caters to you and does your bidding. Eben likes to think of the book as his little bitch and it’s gonna do whatever he wants it to.

Why look at it like this?

Because most people dread reading because they cower to the book. They start it at page one and think they have to read every single page of it to the very end. And then they feel weakened when they look at it sitting on the table and do their best to ignore it once they’ve got to the point where they know they aren’t going to be opening it again because they’ve now gotten all lathered up by another book they just bought.

This approach makes reading a painful experience.

This is no fun and how much do expect to get from a book you don’t really like it but you feel forced to finish it? Not much. When you can do whatever the fuck you want with a book, you get to feel empowered.

The Two Step Speed Reading Technique That Can’t Be Beat

Here’s the most important speed reading technique that you could ever learn . . .

Step 1: Skip 80% of the books that you were going to read.

He’s not kidding when he says this. Skip 80% of the books that you were going to read.

Well how do you know if you skip a book? The Preview Technique. You should use the following preview technique with any book you consider reading . . .

Step 2: Spend 10-15 minutes reading the inside flaps or the back of the book, the table of contents, and then quickly flip through the book looking to see if the author has summarized and bulletized the important concepts.

You can compare this process with starting to build a puzzle and looking at the cover of the box to get an idea of where everything goes, finding the four corners, separating out the border, putting all the matching colors into piles, etc.

This step gives you the frame work for how it’s all put together. You’ve got the big picture and now you know whether you want to dive in, or not, and if you do, you’ve got the lay of the land so you have a better idea of where to find the most important concepts you seek.

Lots of non-fiction books will summarize chapters with bulleted lists of the highlights at the end of the chapter and some even summarize the entire end of the book at the end and you never even get there following the path the dis-educational system taught you to use.

The other cool thing that happens with this step is you can see if you already know most of what you see or . . .  if it’s a book where you don’t know most of it.

If you know most of the book, you probably shouldn’t read it from front to back but rather you should skim for what’s going to add to your knowledge. 

You now have permission to never read a book cover to cover again if you don’t want to

Most books are not written in a manner that allows for optimized learning.

This is why you can avoid deep sea diving on most books. If you do find an amazing book that is well organized feel free to read it cover to cover.

The gift you get from a book is your mind finding something you can go do a.k.a. behavior change that relates directly to you solving your problem or helping you fulfill your purpose you’re pursuing.

At this point when you find something actionable you can make a note in your journal, note pad, Evernote, etc. about what you discovered, write the page number, but most importantly you want to make a note of what you’re going to go do with what you’ve found.

When you you use the principle your mind goes into information orgasmic bliss – you know the warm fuzzy feeling that you get when you take action on something new and it actually works like the words said it would and the words become much more than words.

Another Non-System Approach To Speed Reading

Eben has found that reading faster is the key to reading faster.

Think of time when you were on a road trip and the speed limit was 75 and you were doing 81 and all of a sudden you hit the speed limit change asking you to slow down to 55, then 45, then 35 because you’ve come upon some little shit bird town out in the middle of nowhere.

When you slow down to 35 doesn’t it seem like you’re going 10 miles in hour? You adapted to flying at the velocity you were driving for that expanded period of time and now you feel like you’re going in slow motion.

When you practice reading faster you can start to read faster.

One of the mistakes that massively slows you down is when you read something, get confused and go back to the beginning and read it again. It’s much more efficient to keep reading and have faith that your mind will figure out what’s going on.

And if you get to the end of a chapter and you’re lost, jam through it again.

Here’s a technique to assist you in reading faster . . .

  • Run your finger down the left margin of the page and move your finger down the page as you read

    If you do this for 5 minutes and then go back to reading normally for an hour you will have picked up your reading speed. And then if you do it again for 5 minutes at the beginning of your reading you’ll have increased your reading speed. Most people don’t experience how fast they can really read because they never challenge themselves.

    Here’s a technique that allows you absorb what you read . . .

  • Put it into practice


    There was a study that was done at Harvard with high income salespeople and out of all the traits they studied in these people the one they found that was the X factor they all had in common -the only thing they found they all had in common – was that when they learned something, they implemented it immediately. They heard it and put it into practice.

    So what Eben does is when he finds a golden nugget and then he looks for a way to take action on it.

    The other thing you can do is to teach someone what you’ve learned as soon as you possibly can. He has friends he calls at times to just to download on and he believes this is as selfish as it is generous.

    You want to teach what you discover and get into a discussion about it and talk about what it means to you and them.

    And there you have it. You’re off the hook forever now from having to read a book like a turtle. You now have permission to pillage and plunder books and burn them to the ground when you’re done as you ride away with all their treasure.

    Did I just give you permission to be a Napoleonic thuggish ruggish book tyrant? I did! Now go out and make the most of of it! 

    Talk soon,

    Lewis LaLanne a.k.a. Note Taking Nerd #2 a.k.a. L.L. Cool Nerd

    PS. And if your quest for personal improvement has you eager to implement more of what you read, you’ll definitely want to click here and check this out <—–

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