Digesting What You Consume

Leaders are readers… Or learners. They look for ways to learn new leadership techniques, improve upon tried and true methods, and continue to move forward.

We’re bombarded with new leadership content. From new blog posts (sorry guys!) to new movies to new leadership books.

It’s a wide world of fast food content out there.

What Got Me Thinking

Pamela and I recently celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. We took a trip to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan for the Marvel Comics Exhibit. It was a blast.

We also took a side-trip to Frankenmuth. There, I forged a knife. Pamela forged a dagger. That was really cool.

Lastly, we began our trip home and went through Ann Arbor.

For those of you who don’t know, Ann Arbor is the home of Zingerman’s Deli. It’s world-famous. I was introduced to Zingerman’s via Skip Prichard’s blog. It took me a lot longer than I would like to admit to finally visit Ari Weinzweig’s restaurant but I did after many years.

It didn’t disappoint. It was truly an experience. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While waiting for my order of the #2 Zingerman’s Reuben and Pamela’s order of the #74 Dave’s Open Road, we perused Zingerman’s Deli. We walked around and explored much of what the Deli had to offer. We were blown away.

One of the things I discovered in the Deli was Ari’s mini-books.

These mini-books are short, packed lessons on leadership. I picked up four of them:

Each of these mini-books was excerpted from Ari Weinzweig’s larger books. The mini-books are short. They clock in at about 30 pages each.

The wisdom contained within the pages is amazing. Ari knows leadership.

This got me thinking about how I consume books…

Digesting What You Consume

You are often asked “How many books did you read this year?” or “Did you read books A, B, and C? They were sooooo good.”

It’s tempting to become a consumer of leadership books and learning products. To go to the leadership buffet and eat one book after the other.

But… my question is

Is this the best way to consume and digest valuable leadership lessons?

We’ve become a fast-food customer of leadership. We eat, eat, eat with little time to digest what we’ve consumed.

Reading A Recipe For Servant Leadership took me a lot longer than I expected. I expected to breeze through the book in a half-hour sitting. I didn’t.

Instead, I found myself reading 2 or 3 pages in a sitting. I then had to put the book down. I had to think about what I just read.

It was deep and impactful.

I had to digest what I just consumed.

I want to encourage you to stop going to the leadership buffet. I want to encourage you to stop and digest what you just consumed.

This will cement the ideas you’re learning deep within you. You will unpack the leadership lessons the authors are trying to give you. You will walk away actually retaining the lessons you learned.

How To Digest What You Consume

In this go, go, go world, it is hard to stop to digest the good content we consume. We want to move onto the next lesson. We can’t. We have to digest what we’ve consumed.

Here are 4 tips on digesting what you consume so you can remember it for later.

1. Highlight or underline key leadership insights:

Pamela and I differ in how we view books. She sees them as a sacred text. The paper shouldn’t be dog-eared or marked up.

I see them as a play place. A place to highlight and underline what made me stop and think.

This allows me to flip through books I’ve read and see immediately what I wanted to remember.

2. Take notes in a notebook:

Highlighting and underlining are great. They allow you to easily flip through the book to see what you wanted to remember. However, how many times does this actually happen? Not many. The book sits on the shelf and the highlights and underlining are left to languish.

The next step, after highlighting or underlining, is to take notes outside of the book.

Have a notebook or pad handy. This is the place to jot down what caught your attention, the book title, the page, and your thoughts.

Having a book notebook with your notes will help you revisit your learning more often.

3. Set a time to digest:

What you fail to schedule will fail to get done. You need to set a time to digest what you’ve consumed.

Create a calendar reminder to go through the content you’ve consumed.

This will allow you to do this on a regular basis. You can go over and over and over the content so it is fully digested.

Set a time to digest and it will get done!

4. Digest a second time:

It’s easy to think we get all we need to out of one digestion of the content. We don’t. We can benefit from a second or third digesting of the content.

Go over it again and again. Make sure you’ve fully grasped the concept and you know how to implement it.

Digesting the content more than once isn’t a walk of shame. It is a walk of honor.

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