How to read more

  1. Carry a book with you at all times.
  2. If the book is not enjoyable, put it down and find something else. Sometimes the difference between a great book and an average book is our attitude. There are different books for different seasons.
  3. Use a digital log to keep track of your reading habit. I use Goodreads.
  4. Make social media apps difficult to access. You can put them on a separate page that isn’t convenient to check. You can also sign out after each use and making it mandatory to sign back in. Of course, you can also delete the app.
  5. Buy books in batches. I like buying books used from Amazon. I feel like I am rescuing them. When you finish one, you can have the next one ready.
  6. Set a big, audacious goal. Read one book a week. If you fall behind, you can buy a smaller book or an audio.
  7. You can never have too many highlighters. I use horizontal lines to highlight certain passages, a vertical line if I like multiple paragraphs and dog ear pages that have essential, game changing, paradigm shifting ideas.
  8. If you loved a book, buy another copy for someone. Great ideas are worth sharing. Some of my favorite conversations have been around books I’ve shared with friends.
  9. Sometimes it helps me to throw on some instrumental music. You can’t go wrong with Jazz.
  10. Rescue an hour a day. You can wake up early, read at your lunch break, cut out Netflix…find 60 minutes to invest in yourself. Even if you only have five minutes to spare, read. Often, you’ll find that five-minute session turn into fifteen.

Tipping points and dominoes

In 1816, Robert Owen and Sir Robert Peel introduced a Bill to the British House of Commons to have stricter laws on the hours children worked.

It was purposed that children be at least nine years old and could not work more than twelve and half hours per day. At the time, children were working as early as six years old, up to sixteen hours per day.

Factory owners were outraged to say the least.

Despite doctors testifying of the potential health problems working in such harsh conditions, it was viewed that there was no other way to do tasks in tiny spaces (like cleaning flues or chimneys).

Of course, that really wasn’t the problem. Culture dictated that it was better for children to be working rather than engaging in pilfering. But not all children. Specifically, the poor. The view at the time was that the poor were poor because they deserved to be.

It took three years, before the minimum age of fourteen was passed. The Bill was heavily amended from its original and rarely enforced.

Unfortunately, change doesn’t happen overnight.

It happens little by little, drip by drip. This Bill while at the time seemed like a win for the factory owners was the first crack in the system. A couple of decades later, the Factory Act of 1833 raised the bar for working conditions. And 50 years after that, the eight-hour workday was introduced.

Here’s the thing, Rachael Carson didn’t think Silent Spring was going to start a global environmental movement (and eventually inspire the formation of the EPA). Rosa Parks didn’t think she was going to unite a divided nation. Jacqueline Novogratz didn’t think she would become a voice for the voiceless.

There are tipping points and then there are dominoes that need to fall before we reach critical mass. We don’t give enough credit to those who opened the door for someone who turn around and open doors for others.

But that’s how this work works.

Real change takes time. Sometimes longer than what we have here on this Earth. No matter where you are in the arc of the work you do, your contribution is making a dent.

The angrier we are, the surer we feel

When we’re angry, we use the corrugator supercilii muscles near our eyes to pull our eyebrows down and together. This causes our forehead to wrinkle and squint our eyes. As a result, we significantly cut off our peripheral vision. (Try it.)

In other words, anger literally narrows our vision, cutting off what we can see. Paradoxically, the angrier we are, the surer we feel about ourselves.

It’s a useful metaphor. The less we see the more frustrated we feel. Yet, we can’t see unless we learn to look.

Maybe that is why anger makes us so stubborn. We pick an island and decide to die on it since we can’t see any other useful alternative.

The gap theory

Anytime we come across a gap in our knowledge, we have an innate desire to close it.

Human beings have an incredible ability to fill in these spaces.

We hear bits and pieces of a story and go to great lengths to fill in the details with previous biases and prejudices.

Often, these conclusions can get in our way from seeing the world as it is.

What if we instead tried to see things as they are, not as we think they should be?

The problem with blaming social media

We blame social media for many of our problems today, and for good reason.

Except…

Except, we have been on this path for a long time.

Bullying predates cyber bullying.

Narcissism and vanity have been around a lot longer than selfies.

The internet and social media haven’t created these problems, it has amplified them.

When talking about social media as the culprit, we have to be really clear what it is we are actually talking about.

Social media is a symptom not the root cause of the challenges we face.

Sour grapes

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We’ve heard the story of the hungry fox trying to reach for the grapes.

After numerous failed attempts, the fox exclaims that the grapes our sour.

Aesop taps into what human beings have been fighting against for thousands of years:

Our internal narrative.

The story we tell ourselves when we are passed on a job (I didn’t really want it anyway) or when the underdog beats us (It’s just a game).

The grapes are not sour, we are.

We can’t forget that failure is our greatest teacher.

Just because we can’t obtain something, doesn’t mean we have to look through the lens of discouragement.

How many people does it take to change the world?

Nathan Winograd worked at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in San Francisco. What most people don’t understand is that SPCA wasn’t designed to help animals but to get rid of them. Every year, they would euthanize over four million animals.

Fed up with how things were, Winograd attempted to start the first no kill shelter. When Winograd went to city council to plead his case, people flew from all over the country to testify against him. His critics said it couldn’t be done, it would be inhumane and it would be financially irresponsible.

But Winograd persisted.

He went to the locals, the weird, the few who cared enough to join his cause.

And it worked.

After a few years, San Francisco became the first no kill city. Winograd went on to do it again in other places like North Carolina and Reno.

It turns out, the best way to change the minds of the majority, to challenge the status-quo, is to enroll 25% of the population. The challenge in our day is figuring out how to get 25% of the population to support your movement.

It’s a common misconception though to think we must change the minds of everyone in the entire world.

This isn’t true.

Winograd didn’t have to change everyone’s mind. Most people don’t care about animal shelters. He went to the tribe of those who did care about animal treatment first. And then pleaded his case to the ones who might care next.

The world is divided into tribes. Tribes are defined as an assembled group with common interest and goals (insiders).

Rockers who prefer Van Hagar over Van Halen is a tribe. Skiers who enjoy riding $60,000 gold plated skis is a tribe. Apple has a tribe. So does Samsung, and Nike, and REI.

When we are talking about changing the world, we are not actually talking about changing the entire world—we are talking about changing a segment of the world.

Another way to think about this is the Presidential Election.

If the Presidential Election has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t aim your message to everyone who can vote. No, you target those who do vote. Specifically, the swing voters, the ones who are not sure who they want to vote for yet.

Social change starts at the edges. A small group of people that are eager and ready to be assembled.

Slowly, over time, as your movement grows, once you hit the tipping point, you have an opportunity to cross the chasm. And maybe, make the change you are seeking to make.