When I first started ActionableBooks.com back in 2007, I was reading. A lot. Typically 3-4 business books each week, and each with detailed notes, action items and application paths. It was a magical couple of years that followed, where I filled my brain with the latest thinking on leadership, marketing, finding purpose in your work, time management, etc. If someone recommended a book to me, I’d buy it and read it that week. I’d comb the appendices of the books I loved, and read the ones that influenced the author’s thinking and concepts.
And then the business started to grow. As the demands of a rapidly growing business took more and more of my focus, I found myself reading less each week. I moved from reading books I wanted to, to books I needed to — for podcast interviews, promotional launches, etc. It’s only recently, as I’ve once again deliberately started carving out time for reading for reading’s sake that I’ve been reminded of that delicious feeling that kicks in right around chapter three of a new book.
I’d forgotten, for many years, the magic that happens at Chapter three. Why chapter three? For me, this is the point where you’re truly ‘into’ the book. You’re past the point of listening to the author talk about the background research, and you’re just getting into the actual mechanics of their model/idea/insight. It’s at that point, if you’re lucky, that you can almost start to feel the passions of the author. We’re uncovering the creator’s thesis; the consuming task of his most recent years. You’re starting to understand, deconstruct and apply the model while it’s still fresh to you; a puzzle piece clicking into place. You’re consumed by fresh ideas, and able to slip into a relaxed, creative space; one that could even be described as Flow. And yet (perhaps as importantly) we’re not yet into the minutae of the author’s thoughts on application; we still have the freedom of our own dreams and creativity. We’ve been exposed to the idea… what we choose to do with it is still up to us.
As a side note, I get the same feeling with a new board game — when the purpose of a rule, or a little piece of strategy awakens in your mind and provides you with a new way of thinking about your world.
Embrace chapter three. Create the time to read something new. Pick something that excites you, regardless of the topic, and dig in.