New information is immensely valuable for leaders. My favorite thing to consume is information. Well, that is a lie. If it were true, I would be much thinner. I do love information, and I am a veracious consumer of it.
On Learning New Information
My wife, 25+ years after her first Bachelors degree, is back in school working on a Bachelors of Nursing. She has a lot of new information that she must learn, digest, and be ready to put into practice. With this, she was lamenting at the ease in which I digest and process information.
But it wasn’t always this way for me.
Gathering and learning new information comes from a learned and adaptive strategy. I am certain my formula for this is an amalgamation of many tips, tricks and tools I have absorbed along the way. I was going to spend time attempting to share it with her, but then I thought why not turn it into an article. (The latter being much less risky than the former.)
Formula For Success
Our reality today is that we are all bombarded by information. If you let it, it can easily overwhelm you. Yet, if you can absorb and assimilate it, it can be a powerful tool.
The following is my strategy for success. But like any formula, you can adjust it as necessary to make it work for you. For those of you who are detail oriented, this may prove very difficult, but I encourage you to give it a try.
It may be your only hope to keep up with the mountain of information that we all face.
How Every Leader Should Read
1) Let the Author Do Some of Your Work
If you are reading a text book or a professional journal, there is often a chapter preview and/or summary. Start there and read both. That is the outline used to build the chapter. This is where you will find all the key points without the fluff.
It will also help to filter the information presented within the balance of the chapter.
2) Be a Fish
Like a fish, head straight for the hook. Most articles have some literary device to draw the reader in. Find it, read it and then determine if spending any more time is of value. Hopefully, I didn’t just lose a bunch of my readers.
3) Look for Clues
Look for adjusted fonts. If it is in bold, italicized, capitalized or underlined, the author feels it is important. They are calling it out to you, signaling its value.
Read it. If it grabs your interest, or if you don’t grasp the concept, then you can delve a little deeper.
But, I would encourage you to wait until you have completed the chapter or article before doing so, as the concept may round out in the remaining text.
4) Stay in the Box
Similar to adjusted fonts, text that is in a box or table, is either being identified as important by the author or in many cases is used to convey a practical example of the concept. Consume all of that information.
5) Be Visual
Most of us learn and can recall information that is presented in visual format. That is one of the reasons for the growing number of “infographics.” Use the visuals to help you digest the information. Pictures are good, just like when you were little.
There has been a lot of research done on this, and a helpful overview of the findings can be found in a Ted talk by the author of “Death by PowerPoint.”
6) First and Last
Once you have done all of the above, and maybe to help assuage your concern about using this technique, simply read the first and the last sentence of each paragraph.
This added bit of information should provide you with all you need to know.
Creating the Correct Framework
When you are consuming information at a rapid rate, the goal should not be to become an instant expert on the material. Rather, it should be to use it as a framework so you can interact with it.
If you are a student, try this technique before your next lecture. I think you will be surprised with how prepared you actually are for the class. Then, if any of the concepts presented are confusing or prove difficult, you can go back and review, everything else you can just leave in your mental parking lot and move forward.
For Business Leaders:
If you are in business, this is how you can stay up on what is happening and be a participant in more conversations. It will also increase your credibility and value, because you will be viewed as in the know which can only help to feed your self-confidence.
These steps and suggestions are just my approach. I am sure there are many others, and I would invite anyone with other suggestions to please leave them in the comment section below.
I would also be happy to have a conversation about any the specifics and recommend action steps that can be taken. Please feel free to reach out.
Thanks for reading.
This article was taken from linked2leadership.com