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Success

Why do successful people have large libraries and small TVs?

I stole that quote from a book I recently read. Why did it catch my eye? Well, every child gets told it should read a book instead of playing Angry Birds on the tablet. “Reading makes you smarter.” Yet is that really true? And if yes, why’s that? Once again, I played Sherlock Holmes for you to solve that case in an ExperienceZone fashion.

Why watching TV is a double edged sword

Let’s start with your beloved telly. It provides you information. So far so good. But the data is predigested. What does this mean? You get moving pictures with audio. Your minds (yes plural, since we’re talking brain, heart and gut) just need to consume the visual and auditive meal. No space for imagination and thus creativity. Even worse: Everything, which is shown to you sticks in your subconscious. Especially if it’s presented in a way that touches your emotions. Stuff that makes you move internally. That’s exactly what the producers and directors want! If you’re having an intense experience, you tend to switch into the same channel again. Or you’re even willing to pay for watching it. We’re addicted to sensations. That’s the reason why only bad news are good news. Why are action movies, thrillers and dramas way more successful than documentaries? Because they shake you up! Don’t get me wrong: We love experiences! But only the good ones. What happens if you watch a horror movie and go to bed afterwards? You configure your subconscious. Even if you don’t have nightmares, your subconscious will co-create a reality, which is similar to what it received beforehand. Do you want your life to become a horror movie? I guess not…

Books tease your imagination and creativity

Do you want to be street smart instead? Find the best solutions to challenges in your life? Get along with others better every day? Then start to read regularly! I can tell you in thousand words how honey tastes. You won’t get it until you try it. So, why’s reading so powerful?

Firstly, the act of reading requires focus. Focus is the silver bullet of success. Unfortunately many of us don’t train this exceptional skill. In contrast: Our daily hustle promotes distraction. Your phone goes. An email arrives. Someone comes to your desk whilst you’re working on the super-important board presentation. Life is about balance. If you spend more time on simultaneity, you will find it harder to work things through sequentially. Bear in mind that our brain is wired to process information in bits. That’s why reading line after line is an easily digestible way to build up knowledge. Even more than that: You need to make a mental effort. Your brain is a muscle and wants to be trained. Yet I often need to jump over the McGuire hump and read at least a page after a long day.

Secondly, reading makes you think about what you’re absorbing whilst you’re doing it. This triggers pictures in your brain. Especially, if you read a novel. You think about how the characters look like, how the environment and situation is made up. You make you own movie in your head. That is also creating new neurotic interfaces and makes you brain more complex. The tighter your neurotic network, the more flexible you become in your communication and behavior.

Enough said: Get some good books and read every day!

ExperienceZone is all about trying new stuff and cultivating new routines, which do you good. Here’s what I want you to do step by step:

  1. Check yourself. What are you interested in? Beautifying your home? Biographies of great men? Or actionable tipps and tricks to improve your life? Go library and flip through some books. Or on an online platform and check out some bestsellers.
  2. Get started and follow through. You need to start reading every day. It’s an exercise that trains your brain. So schedule some time with yourself. I’m reading before I go to bed. It has a positive tiring impact on me. Sometimes I only cover a page or two before I fall asleep with the book open in my hands. Also, I read a couple of books in parallel. Yet never more than three. Otherwise distraction sets in. I love having one lying next to me on my sofa or in my sports bag.
  3. Reduce TV time. I own a large TV. Yet I only switch it on occasionally. I don’t watch the usual program. Instead I watch documentaries and inspiring movies with happy ends. So be conscious about what you’re watching. You are a product of everything you experienced in your life. That includes media consumption to a large extent for many people.

How communities can make you successful

Picking up on the article Why are we happier in company than alone?, being in groups make us feel better yet also more successful. You are part of different communities. They represent groups of human beings established for various reasons. From large ones such as humanity, over society to small ones such as your neighborhood chess club.

Why are communities essential to our lives?

Evolutionary, we are gregarious animals. We found families and are committed to larger groups as well. In stone age, hunters went out together. They joined forces to circle the target and thus increased the probability to kill the animal. Gatherers too teamed  up. Younger members learned from older ones which fruit & vegetables are eatable and how to prepare them. Experiences and wisdom got refined as well as passed on for generations.

Why are you more successful in a group?

In contrast to many other species, human beings are able to learn from the experiences of others. Ok, this ensured survival. Yet is this also a receipt for success? Yes.

If you can build up on others’ experiences, say you learn from your peers that requesting a decision from your boss via mail doesn’t really work, you try to pitch her verbally. Since she’s apparently a listener rather than a reader, your ask might resonate with her and she might be more likely to take action upon it. Hence, building up on what doesn’t work is a great way to accelerate trial-and-error-loops.

Also, having a social network of experts allows you to tap into the common multiple of knowledge. This increases the chance that you get a better answer quicker than via conventional sources, such as your local library or even Google. You might be smarter than me but not smarter as us. The swarm intelligence is certainly a great lever of groups. I just read an article that especially open networks are a great success predictor. Of course, it is risky to engage with a heterogeneous bunch of people as you might be perceived as an outsider to many. On the flip-side the diversity bears huge opportunities of different ideas, viewpoints and knowledge you can utilize to accomplish your goals.

So, how do you best interact in communities?

Know which communities you belong to. Some memberships are for life, like your race (you cannot brush off your skin color). Others you can exit if they don’t support your aims in life. Therefore you want to check which ones are aligned with your mission. Then you can evaluate what you can contribute to their objectives and how they can help you. Engage with people who you admire and can learn from. Surround yourself with inspiring and empowering people. Yet know that you need to first give before you can ask for favors. Your gifts need to be high-quality. Become interesting to others! Finally, be aware that sheep-behavior can be dysfunctional at times where you want to be innovative. Always say what you think and stick to your guns. You are valuable because you and your opinion are unique.

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