I have quite a few friends and co-workers who read this blog from time to time. I get a comment about a post every once in a while, but my post entitled “Learn it-Know it-Do it,” really hit a nerve with one of my mentors last week. Jeanne Nelson is a good friend, Toastmaster, and a voracious defender of librarians and the written word. She was rather upset with this post and took me to task on it.
The basic idea of the article is that we may read and listen to a lot of motivational and educational material, but we very rarely take action on the ideas presented. The post was based on a new book by author Ken Blanchard, entitled Know Can Do. Ken makes the point in his famous “fable” format that most people that attend his seminars or read his books never take any action to better themselves. The material literally goes in one ear and comes out the other… soon forgotten and never acted upon.
My discussion with Jeanne centered around the large quantity of audio books that have made up my MBA on the Run program for the past two years. In the post I made the point that while those books were read or listened too, many of the concepts covered were never acted upon.
Jeanne fired back that each of those books has changed my life in some way. They may be small imperceptible things, but each volume has added to the tapestry of my life. She made the point that reading a book will never leave you the same. She went on to tell me the changes she has seen in my life over the last few years. The words I use, the way I dress, and the presentations that I give have all been affected by what I have read.
She was right.
Some of the books I explored did not call for change on my part, while others painted a picture of other people’s success. Some called for direct action but did not fit my particular situation. Yet almost every book left me different.
I got to thinking about some of the more subtle changes that books have made. Things that might not be apparent in my actions but have made a profound change just the same. Three books quickly came to mind that really made a profound change in my “world view.”
1. The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, really opened my eyes to the world of marketing and spreading the word about a product or service. With colorful stories of Hush Puppy Shoes to Paul Revere’s famous ride, Mr. Gladwell takes us on a journey of “connectors'” and “mavens.” His writing style is contagious and I found that I couldn’t put this book down. When I see a popular product on TV or the net, I can’t help but think of the connectors that made it possible to get from the original idea to a finished product.
2. Primal Branding by Patrick Hanlon. Why is Starbucks more popular than its competitors? Why has McDonalds been so successful worldwide? Why is Coke more popular than Pepsi? Questions like these seem hard to explain. But Mr. Hanlon has come up with seven reasons that one brand is more popular than another. With ideas like a creation story, a creed, and icons, Patrick explained the subtle differences between a top rated company and a also ran. If you read this book you will never look at a company’s brand the same ever again.
3. The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. If You Had To Meet Someone In Paris On A Specific Day But Had No Way Of Contacting Them, When And Where Would You Meet? In this fascinating book, Mr. Surowiecki looks at many amazing aspects of crowds. From voting to traffic control, James takes us on a interesting adventure right into the heart of the largest crowds in the world. As to where and when people would meet in a city the size of Paris, over 40% of the crowd would go to the same place at the same time. After all wouldn’t you go to the Eiffel Tower at Noon?
For a book or a speaker to make lasting change in your life it takes focus and a willingness to change. Yet even if we don’t change on the outside and our ingrained habits stay the same, reading a book or attending a seminar will leave your mental landscape changed on the inside.
For a more comprehensive look on the subject, explore our previous post on the Three R’s of Change.