What Makes Successful People Different?

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Delighted to host this guest post by Avil Beckford

Today, technology is changing rapidly. And most people feel like they are on a hamster wheel, going nowhere fast. Will things ever change? No, the pace of change will actually speed up. Instead of trying to keep up, why not figure out which things to focus your attention on?

What makes successful people different from the masses?

When you examine the lives of the most accomplished people in society, a few things come to mind. You never hear them complaining about the recession. Continuous learning is a daily part of their lives. They seem to get breakthrough ideas one after another. And they have several income sources.

At first glance, all the things you notice about them seem disconnected. However, when you take a closer look, you discover that professional development is the thread that holds things together. Take Elon Musk as an example. Reading books is his primary way of learning. And in his life so far, he has managed to disrupt several industries. Additionally, he reads across multiple disciplines. And he has an uncanny way of synthesizing information from the various books, getting idea after idea.

Many have called him an “expert generalist.” Orit Gadiesh, Bain & Company Chairman, London coined the term, defining it as,

“Someone who has the ability and curiosity to master and collect expertise in many different disciplines, industries, skills, capabilities, countries, and topics.”

The term captures the essence of who Elon Musk is. But Musk is more of an intersection thinker. According to Rohit Bhargava, author of Non-Obvious 2019: How to Predict Trends and Win The Future:

“Intersection thinking is a method for creating overlap between seemingly disconnected ideas in order to generate new ideas, directions, and strategies for powering your own success. It can create a crossover gamechanger. It allows you to think in a way your competitors aren’t.”

Want to be more like Elon Musk?

To be more like Elon Musk and other luminaries, incorporate reading books into your day. Be intentional about reading to learn. Read books across multiple disciplines to broaden your worldview. If you are in finance, also read about history. Every industry has a history. Try reading about global poverty. To find a solution to global poverty it will take money. Do you see how everything is connected?

You do not have to spend all day reading books!

Most successful people have taken some form of speed reading course. It allows them to power through more books. But you do not have to speed read. You simply need to know how to become an effective reader. Here’s how to do that.

  • Have a purpose for reading every book.
  • Inspect the book before you start to read it. This means reading the Preface, Foreword, and Introduction. Review the Table of Contents to identify the sections that address your purpose for reading the book. Look at the Index. The terms with the greatest number of references tell you what the author considers important.
  • Read the sections of the book that deepens your understanding of the text.
  • Take notes while you are reading the books.
  • Review your notes, picking out the big ideas.
  • Connect the ideas from the various books you read, making them into bigger ideas.
  • Test the feasibility of the ideas.
  • Implement the ideas.

This kind of reading is not superficial. You are simply looking for the sections of the book that will give you the greatest understanding of the text. You are applying the 80/20 Rule to reading a book. You read 20 percent of the book to understand 80 percent of it. Inspecting the book first, allows you to uncover the 20 percent to read.

Using this strategy, you can read more of the right books to get the kinds of benefits that successful get from reading books. However, the process does not end there. You have to synthesize the information from the books you read, picking out the big ideas. And ultimately acting on the ideas.

So when you see the following statistics about the impact of artificial intelligence:

“Between 40 million and 160 million women globally may need to transition between occupations by 2030, often into higher-skilled roles. To weather this disruption, women (and men) need to be skilled, mobile, and tech-savvy, but women face pervasive barriers on each, and will need targeted support to move forward in the world of work.”

Source:  The future of women at work: Transitions in the age of automation

You won’t panic because you know that your continuous learning practice allows you to see what others are missing.

Three Books to Read

  1. Lifetime Learner’s Guide to Reading and Learning
  2. Non-Obvious Megatrends: How to See What Others Miss and
    Predict the Future
  3. Opportunity: How to Win in Business and Create a Life You Love

The above three books will teach you how to read effectively and get a broader perspective of the world, analyze and synthesize the information from the books you read, and learn how to spot and capitalize on opportunities.

About Avil Beckford
Avil Beckford is the Founder of The Invisible Mentor. She’s a learning strategist who created the Performance Accelerator Plan, so professionals can develop intercultural awareness and learn the skills the World Economic Forum reports they need to thrive in 2020 to 2022.

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