Struggling to read effectively can impact every area of your business life, including screening an applicant’s CV or resume, providing good customer service, or otherwise running your company. If you struggle with reading and want to do better, keep reading.
Have you ever read a book from cover to cover only to realize that in the end you really didn’t retain any of the information in it? Maybe you’ve attempted to discuss something you’ve read with friends, then felt foolish because their insights and conclusions seemed more intelligent than yours. Believe it or not, reading like a smart person doesn’t require a high IQ. In fact, anybody can do it.
The Importance of Reading to Success
Get a group of truly successful people together and you will find a variety of talents, interests, and backgrounds. However, you will nearly always find one common thread. Successful people are voracious readers. It is how they learn about themselves and the world around them. If you want to emulate successful entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett, head to the library and start reading.
The Benefits of Reading
It goes without saying that reading is valuable because you learn new things. However, that is hardly the only benefit. People who read have increased focus. They are more self-disciplined and are more productive. Those moments of time that you waste each day are seen by readers as opportunities to pick up a book and improve themselves.
Now, let’s talk about making reading work for you.
Read Like a Teacher
If you quickly forget what you’ve read, there’s a cure for that. Imagine that after you are finished reading, you will need to teach whatever you’ve just covered to somebody else. This nifty, little, mental trick will help you to focus and reframe what you are reading in a way that will improve your recollection and understanding.
All you need to do is determine how you would explain what you have read to someone who is just as much of a beginner as you. After a while, you will be surprised at how much better you will be at remembering what you have read, even when a period of time has passed.
Recognize What Needs to be Reread
I need to come back to this. Smart, successful people don’t just read from cover to cover. They recognize passages that they need to revisit. This means that they don’t always treat reading as a linear process. They will double back and cover difficult material multiple times if they need to.
In fact, one common technique that you can try is to write down open ended questions that can encourage you to delve deeper into what you are reading. Then, once you have done your first read-through, treat the book as an academic text. Go back through it and try to find the answers that your first reading provoked.
Draw a Parallel
Knowledge is like a Lego structure. Each piece of information that you gain is most useful when you can click it onto an existing piece. Those existing pieces are bits of information that you have already picked up through life experience and education. This is why you can get more out of reading if you can draw parallels. As you read, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this seem familiar to me?
- Have I ever experienced anything similar to this?
- If I wanted to apply this to my life, how would I do that?
- Have I ever read anything similar to this?
- How can I relate to the main character?
Here’s an example: If you are reading a book on providing better customer service to difficult people, you might read a story about a business owner who kept their cool in spite of dealing with a difficult customer. If you can draw a parallel to one of your own customers, you will walk away with a deeper understanding.
Be a Librarian’s Worst Nightmare
First things first—don’t actually damage a book that doesn’t belong to you. However, once you do have a book of your own, have at it.
Read passages multiple times. Underline things that stand out as interesting or thought provoking. Write notes in the margins. Dog-ear pages and circle passages that excite you or make you angry. On the inside of the book jacket, write what you loved and hated about the book.
Don’t allow books to simply sit on your shelves like tchotchkes. Turn them into living, breathing, fountains of knowledge.
Renew your passion for learning and learn to read like a smart person. Become an active consumer of books in a variety of genres and flip the script so that learning is always a hands-on experience.
Author: Veronica Wright is an entrepreneur, blogger and career coach from New York and co-founder of Resumes Center. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern California and is fond of design, art, and typography, but her main passion is writing. She loves to research career and recruiting themes and share them. Follow her at @ResumesCentre.