Deliberate Development

Professional Development for the Military Leader


Self Leadership

Get More out of What You Read

Last year, we did a post on finding more opportunities to read. I have received some good feedback on this and have been asked what I meant when I stated a more studious approach and about my habits in general. This post will hopefully answer those questions.

I have had many seasons where I was listening to multiple podcasts, audiobooks, reading articles, reading physical or even eBooks, and more… I got to the point to where I was wondering what I even read. I felt like I was driving down the interstate and reading all of the billboards. Then when I got home, I could only recall one or two.

For me, I find that reading in 20-30 minute sessions allows me to really absorb what I just read and not become over-saturated with content. I like to then take some notes in my Evernote App or even jot them down in my weekly planner. This gets the material out of my mind and allows me to reflect on it more. It is a win-win situation.

I have been toying with multiple methods to organize the material too. Ryan Holiday uses note cards by topic, some use writing journals, some use Excel docs and label the tabs by topic. I use tags in Evernote and recently just bought this amazing writing program, Scrivener. It was $45 and allows me to do some very cool things. For example, you can create multiple folders in a project and label them as the topics. Then add your notes there and recall them at will. I just created one for “reading notes” and have the books I read as the chapters and topics in folders in the research area. It is working very well so far.

Another trick of mine: after I finish reading the book, I google book notes for it. There are a lot smarter people out there than me and they can condense that 300 page book into 1,000 words of notes. I add these to the notes that I had taken as well.

I still do not capture everything from the 40+ books and 200+ podcasts I consume each year, but I get the big things that really matter to me and I will eventually get a solid a system in place to where I can recall bits of this content while I am writing articles or books more clearly.

What tricks do you do that I am missing here?

For book recommendations:



Daily Deliberation: 28 March 2018

We are a product of our environment. We are introduced to different values and taught certain social traits in our homes. However, every child raised in the same conditions, does not turn out the same. That is because we still have control over who we ultimately become. This is true in the work setting too. Just because we have a bad boss or work in a toxic environment that we can’t control doesn’t spell doom. We still control how we respond to what happens and who we will be when we leave there.

Daily Deliberation: 15 February 2018

We tend to mirror or compare ourselves to others in the world or our workcenters. There are times it is useful to see how we are performing on the team in comparison to others. However, we should not try to become the other person or even think our contributions should be equal to that of others. We are on a team because we have a role to fill, we can’t all do the same thing. Never thought I’d steep to quoting the Patriots, but their saying…”do your job” is appropriate to everyone. Learn your role and then do the work. Don’t try to be like the others.

Daily Deliberation: 11 February 2018

As leaders we tend to create policies. Sometimes they are intended and other times they are not. When we verbally dictate or draft a letter to say how things should be, we are talking the talk. The key moment is and true test is if we walk the walk afterwards. Are we enforcing these policies? Are we saying one thing and doing another? I know I am guilty of this myself. I will say a certain office is responsible for something and then when things go wrong, I am tempted to group punish instead of holding the right person accountable. To be honest, I have to hold myself accountable a lot of times too!

Daily Deliberation: 31 January 2018

This is so true. We all laugh at those whom used to think the sun revolved around the Earth. How could that be? However, we like to think the world revolves around us. They need to do X; She needs to Y…Instead, what could you be doing differently? How could you approach the situation differently? We can only change ourselves.

Daily Deliberation: 30 January 2018

I recently heard an interview where they were discussing how Americans no longer had hobbies. He was stating that we work all day, maybe do some exercise, kid activities and then veg out to the DVR, Netflix or social media on our phone. I remember growing up and my dad would be tinkering on an old car, my neighbor would do some woodwork, etc. They honed their hobbies until they were experts…I have seen this in my own life. I think we all should just try something different and see how it goes.

Daily Deliberation: 14 January 2018

My dad once told me that if my job was to shovel poo (he chose a different word), then to be the best shoveler on the crew. The goal is not to one up the team, but to push the team to new heights. When we work harder, those around us do too. When we surpass the capacity of our work, we often get promoted. Then we need to start the cycle over. Raise our game and the game of those around us will also increase. We raise others up by setting the example.

Daily Deliberation: 12 January 2018

This notion scares me. In so many areas of my life, I know where I want to be in 3, 5, 10 years but am not perfect about executing my plan. Sometimes I see the lack of effort come to fruition in my personal and professional life. I see the thing I ignored all of a sudden come back to bite me or the conclusion was not as planned. However, when I am deliberate about the plan and what my next step is, I am still not perfect, but I am not disappointed either. Plan, Do, Next is a great strategy to help me arrive where I am trying to go.

Daily Deliberation: 2 January 2018

This past week I have been on a last minute trip to my hometown and there I was cut off from a lot of my typical routines and I had a lot of time for self-reflection. I will admit, I was able to think about my team at work and if I am being the leader I should be. I was thinking about my role on this site and most importantly about my role as a father. Just allowing myself to explore the boredom and reflect on my many roles was very satisfying and eye-opening. Take some time today to allow yourself to just reflect. You will learn a lot about yourself if you open your mind to it.

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