So here’s the thing: sometimes I feel like my brain might just explode. Blogs, e-zines, tweets, posts, status updates, newsfeeds. What do I need to read? Who do I need to follow? Where do I find the latest research from thought leaders in my field? How do I keep up with it all?
Before, when I wanted to brush up on a subject, I’d take a class or sign up for a workshop.
If I were in a self-study mood, I would go to a bookstore. I might even hit the library if I felt like kickin’ it old-school. Either way, I’d peruse the shelves for a noteworthy authority. Or I’d look for a book I’d seen on a client’s desk.
Over the next few weeks, I would either read the book from cover to cover or just skim enough to be able to drop a few pearls of wisdom into a conversation. Maybe I’d never crack the cover. But my heart was in the right place. I really did mean to get to it. Needed to get to it. Soon.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to the bookstore. The Internet. I bet you’ve noticed.
Everything—including the library, the bookstore, and even the workshop—is at your fingertips now. Literally. No need to get out of your pajamas. The information comes to you. Kind of like how a tsunami comes to you.
Phenomenally intelligent content is just a mouse click away on just about a billion or so social media sites and other websites. Some of it is buried among the nonsense, but it’s there.
So how does a well-intentioned, upwardly mobile, and busy-like-crazy leader like you get to the good stuff?
1. Start with an intention. What do you want or need to learn about most in the next six months? Is it leadership in general that you are interested in or one specific aspect of leadership? Do you want to work on a health issue? Eat more protein? Save the planet? Expand your business? Become a vegetarian? You need to begin by deciding on an area of interest. That’s your starting point.
2. Find a few gurus. Who are the thought leaders in your chosen topic? Are there book authors you admire? Columnists whose articles you read? Bloggers who share your viewpoint? Google them! Find out where they hang out online and follow them. Sign up to get their updates through e-mail. These are a few of my faves: Seth Godin, Scott Stratten, Carrie Wilkerson, and Daniel Pink.
3. Pick a playground. What type of online environment do you like best? Try a few and see what works for you. Do you like a busy space with lots of lively conversation? Try Twitter. Do you like to quietly skim through content at your own pace? Try Feed.ly, Tumblr, or StumbleUpon. Do you like to network with like-minded seekers and professionals in your field? Try LinkedIn Groups. There are many others, and more are popping up daily. Don’t try to be everywhere—just try to be somewhere. You will find your favorite places online just like how you found your favorite coffee shop. Trial and error. Pick a couple and stick with them for a while. See who shows up there!
4. Use apps for efficiency. I can’t live without Evernote and the Evernote Web Clipper. Have you ever started out searching for something online and ended up on a rabbit trail that took you nowhere and everywhere at the same time? Is your browser bookmark list endless? Evernote lets you save the stuff you find on the Internet and read it later from any of your devices anywhere, as long as you have an Internet connection. I use it. I love it.
5. Get an e-reader and stock it with great material. Now. Carry it with you everywhere. Is it a challenge for you to find the time to read? Most people have at least a few spaces in their day that get filled with mindless activity. If you are serious about learning more, you need to have the content handy when the time shows up. Most devices have an option to listen to your content too, so carry a headset.
With a little bit of planning and preparation, you really can learn more, much faster than you thought you could. I did. You can too!
I’d love to know more about the tips, techniques, and strategies that you use to learn more, faster! Post a comment.
Author: Cathy Shaughnessy
Cathy Shaughnessy is a PRISM award winning ICF Master Certified Coach and author of the book series The Really Competent Coach. Cathy coaches senior leaders, mentors credentialed coaches, trains fledgling coaches and helps organizations build strong coaching cultures.
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