I learned an invaluable life lesson from a speed reading course.
The average reading speed of people is about 250 wpm with 60% comprehension.
So in order to improve myself, I’ve taken 3 speed reading courses.
At my best (a long time ago), I could read at 2000 wpm with 90% comprehension. (A very long time ago.)
Believe me, when you’re working full time, reading 100+ books per year, and finishing your doctoral dissertation, you seek shortcuts!
Best of all, I learned an important life lesson from Anthony, the young course instructor.
He put it this way: the process of improvement is rather simple– not easy– but simple.
That path has a name. It’s called: pain.
So, I was up early, practicing my speed reading skills 3 hours a day, until my hands were cramped and ink stained (because you trace your fingers rapidly across the text as you read).
I tested my comprehension diligently in timed tests. Always pushing for more and better, and improving accordingly.
Believe me, reading Aristotle’s Politics at 2000 wpm with 80% comprehension does not come easily or readily.
That’s the point. Improvement requires effort.
- If you were good enough to play professional basketball, and good enough to play with Michael Jordan on the Chicago Bulls, and then proved yourself further, and were accepted by the team, then you got invited to Michael’s house for the private workouts that he and a select few had after their team training sessions.
- Want to know how Stephen King got the idea for his book (and twice made movie) Carrie? He worked as a janitor cleaning out the girl’s locker room at a high school. Janitor by day, highly rejected author by night. Until he was good enough not to be rejected.
- John Milton’s unabashed classic epic poem Paradise Lost was written after he spent 6 years sitting around his Dad’s house practicing writing poetry. His dad finally pulled some strings and got John a day job writing press releases for the King (like a modern day Press Secretary for a President or Prime Minister).
Milton’s younger brother said: “When he was young, he studied very hard and sat up very late, commonly till twelve or one o’clock at night”. See, John’s success was not entirely an accident.
- Ross Grayson Bell, Producer of the film Fight Club told me that he hired unknown actors (on a maxed out credit card, no less) who assiduously work-shopped the entire script for 6 months in order to simply transform it into a marketable version worthy of presenting to the studios. The movie was made 2.5 years later which, in Hollywood time, is the speed of light.
- Think the TV series Mad Men came about easily? Think again.
Point is: Everybody who succeeds pays the prices; everybody pays their dues.
It takes mental, emotional, psychological, and physical work even to improve something as simple as your reading speed. You have to work at it and work on it.
A former British SAS officer was once asked how he withstood the extremely rigorous culling process designed to separate the real candidates from the mere applicants.
Woody Allen said, 80% of success is just showing up.
The Buddhists say, sometimes success consists of simply staying on the path.
So take the first step, show up, then just keep walking.
I invite you to view other articles: How The Job Market Really Works (articles on LinkedIn)