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Learn Less, Study More

I attended an event recently and was introduced to the fascinating Nathan. We had a lengthy conversation about the delights and dilemmas of growing a new business, the triumphs and pitfalls of entrepreneurship, before we lapsed into discussing book recommendations - and holy wow was Nathan well read?!

Whilst I will never discourage anyone from reading, quite the contrary in fact, there is one flaw in Nathan's reading habits, especially as he is a fledgling entrepreneur, nurturing an infant business. The titles Nathan has been reading are wide and diverse; scattershot in their selection. Whilst I commend his pursuit of knowledge, and his commitment to continued learning, I would encourage him to narrow his focus and field of least for now.


It's clear Nathan is highly motivated, but it would be too easy for him to fall into the "over-motivated, under-achieving" elephant trap. The over-motivated/under-achieving amongst us read every book, listen to every podcast, subscribe to every blog, and busy themselves with seemingly good intentions. They risk confusing themselves however when i.e.: Author A says "do X", and then Author B says "do Y". This confusion often results in a developing sense of inadequacy when the inevitable analysis paralysis takes hold. It's essential to remember that when a mind is confused and overwhelmed it freezes and does nothing, like the proverbial rabbit in headlights. This obviously needs to be avoided at all costs.

These over-motivated/under-achieving entrepreneurs are indeed learning a lot, but what are they actually getting accomplished? I have met a few people who busy themselves reading like this and often wonder if they're hiding behind their eruditeness, and/or confusing it with actual, tangible accomplishment. So I urge my mentees to read less and study more.


What's the difference? Okay, let's say Nathan is opening a car repair workshop. My advice to him would be to read less about i.e.: SEO and accountancy, and to study all things car repair related. Nathan needs to become an expert, to the highest degree possible, within his field of specialty, and should then hire other experts to design his website and submit his tax returns.

Rather than drilling many shallow holes (by reading about SEO and accountancy), Nathan would be better engaged drilling one deep hole, studying deeply into his field of expertise, and mining it for all it's worth. By reading in such a disparate and scattershot manner, Nathan was attempting to become a Jack of all trades, where I'm now encouraging him to become master of one - his one (car repairs). Why risk or spend your finite time, energy and financial resources on areas outside of your specific goals?


Think about what your Big 3 Goals are. Write them down. Now look at what you're reading. Are the titles you're currently reading in alignment with your Big 3 Goals? If so, great keep going. If not, stop immediately and course correct yourself, there's not a second to lose.

I studied judo at school and was taught to physically look in the direction of where I wanted to throw my opponent. For example, if I wanted to throw them to my right side, my nose must be pointing down to the right side, as I simultaneously maneuvered my opponent. This is because your body follows your nose. I was taught the same lesson whilst learning to drive (yes, they had cars in those days!); essentially to look where you're going. The same is true for your cognitive function. Why are you reading copious titles about SEO and accountancy, when you're trying to build a car repair workshop? Look at where you're going. You want to be the premier expert on car repairs, not SEO, so study all things car repair related.

There is a difference between reading and studying, there's a big difference, and it will make all the difference to your business going forward if you change your approach.


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