Develop a morning routine.
This is the one thing I acted on right away while I was reading the book. For my full thoughts on mornings and morning routines, check out Thought Bytes #61.
Speed reading - not a myth.
A long time ago, I remember doing a lesson on speed reading. Some things I learned were focusing on the center of the page and using your peripheral vision to read, not subvocalizing, and using a pen/finger to point at the words. I never adopted any of those strategies and honestly thought they were bogus. Jim emphasizes the latter two techniques and I employed a pen as my pointing device for reading the rest of the book to test out the technique. I definitely read much faster and my comprehension didn't go down as I was able to summarize the ideas after each section.
I think the biggest reason I buy into the idea of speed reading is that your mind focuses when it's entertained, and when you're reading too slowly, it's easy for you to get bored. Reading fast requires more focus but also always you to view information faster, keeping your brain engaged.
I thought this was the most fun part of the book. Try memorizing this list I made up (and keep in mind, I'm recalling this from memory from the time I did this exercise several days ago):
Give yourself a few minutes to memorize the list, then see how many you recall. If you were like me, you probably just repeated the words over and over, maybe paired some of the words together. When recalling, I was only able to get about half the words.
Now Jim's recommendation is to make up a story that associates and visualizes the words. I made up this story:
I was studying arithmetic in the morning when I ran into an "X" and realized I didn't know what a product was. So I read passages about how to do multiplication when the power went out. I turned on a candle and then took the grounds out of my cold brew. I had an evaluation later to I kept repeating phrases like SOH-CAH-TOA. Later I was crunching numbers but did poorly so I disappointed my clients.
The story is still etched in my mind and helps me quickly recall the list of words as needed. Obviously this is a toy example, but I found it useful later that afternoon to remember a list of workouts to do at the park.
Jim Kwik on why our limits are all internal:
If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If broken by an inside force, life begins. Great things always begin from the inside.
On why it's hard to accept responsibility for our own genius/greatness:
David Shenk furthers this idea in his book, The Genius in All of Us. He writes that everyone has the potential for genius, or at the very least, greatness. But the reason we prefer to believe that we’re either a genius or we’re not, or that we’re either talented or not, is because it relieves us from the responsibility of taking control of our own life. “A belief in inborn gifts and limits is much gentler on the psyche: The reason you aren’t a great opera singer is because you can’t be one. That’s simply the way you were wired. Thinking of talent as innate makes our world more manageable, more comfortable. It relieves a person of the burden of expectation.
Limits are all in your head. This book compiled ideas from many self-help books like The Power of Habit, Atomic Habits, and Start with the Why to address why our limits aren't really limits at all. The way society has programmed us to think, digital media has kept our attention spread thing, and our phones keeping us distracted from what we truly care about - these are all obstacles that we can overcome to achieve greatness in whatever we set our mind to.
Throughout the book, I confronted thoughts like "I am not a designer" or "I can't speed read" or "I can't remember what I learn from the books I read" that in effect aren't limits. I may not be predisposed to design beautiful interfaces, but I can and have been learning techniques and skills to build products for Edith. I may feel like a slow reader, but I can try the techniques that Jim teaches to change how I read. I may not remember what I learn from books right now, but I can be deliberate about taking notes and being active about my reading as well as practicing and discussing what I learn.
So the takeaway - confront your limits; they aren't limits. Learn to learn, learn to think, and you'll learn to overcome limits that really aren't there.
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Mornings and morning routines - my current attempt to become a morning person and how it can give you space to think and improve your productivity.