The concept of an information diet was introduced to me in Tim Ferris’ seminal work, The Four-Hour-Work-Week. I’d arrived at a similar conclusion before Tim gave it a name, and I can confirm that it has a major impact on productivity and mental clarity.
My adaptation of this idea boils down to this:
- Stop loading your brain with information that is not readily useful (actionable) towards your current goals.
- Set limits on your total information input as not to be overwhelmed with data and competing opinions.
If you are an introverted success-nerd like me, input overload is likely preventing you from focusing on the brass tacks of ACTION and GRIND.
Action is getting started.
Grind is showing up every day and doing the work.
You’ve heard the term ‘analysis paralysis’ and it is epidemic amongst introverts especially.
We too often mistake reading, studying and information collecting for doing the actual work.
The work doesn’t begin until we are trying, failing, adjusting, improving, building, growing.
Thinking for yourself
The big secret of success cults and self-improvement authoring is that there is no perfect solution published for YOU except the one that you create for yourself.
Success is an abstract concept.
You can learn and piece together bits of knowledge from other people who are at where you want to be… BUT they can’t hand you the keys to the kingdom.
You are a unique individual with your own strengths, creativity and neural map of the world.
Not to mention your own definition of success.
What worked for him will NOT work for you verbatim.
Books are your mentors
I spent four years working on an English Lit degree at university and even in high-school I read a TON of literature, philosophy, fiction and history.
The inspiration and perspective I gained from all this free-reading was fundamental to my personal growth.
Good books are full of good ideas.
Books teach you how to think.
They give you insight into the nature of humanity.
They help you understand your place in the past, present and future.
Books are your mentors.
But there are periods on the road to achieving your goals where mentors should be abandoned.
During these periods your continuing to absorb knowledge and seek counsel is limiting.
You’ve got to stop flooding your brain with other people’s thoughts, and start thinking for yourself.
You’ve got to clear your head of other people’s ideas and trust your own.
A good mentor knows this whereas a guru is always trying to sell you on the next idea.
Seek out an authentic authority
If you aren’t where you want to be in life and are trying to accomplish something big, then right now you should only focus on absorbing information that is readily useful and actionable towards that goal.
Get your arms around the HOW and save the who, what, when and why for later.
You’ll have plenty of time to read works on theory and philosophy once you’ve reached a plateau of real progress.
The actionable information you absorb now should be written by an authority.
An authority worth following is BOTH:
- Someone who truly is where/what you want to be with evidence to verify their claims. Or otherwise having a solid reputation amongst a large group of independent thinkers.
- Someone who is able to effectively communicate the practical aspects of their experience and break-it-down to actionable steps.
Bobby Fischer certainly fills quota number one if you are trying to master chess, but he probably cannot meet you at #2. He is a prodigy operating in a different dimension.
Michelangelo can’t teach you his brushstrokes.
If you want to get rich, you might get a lot of inspiration from reading Richard Branson’s autobiography as he is the quintessential cartoon superhero of monumental success.
But Branson’s auto is not your best resource for practical steps towards building a business.
You could (and I will) make an argument that inspirational works written by people you greatly admire are tremendously valuable in sparking new ideas and revealing what is possible.
But if you are already inspired and have a descent idea as to what you want to accomplish, then you should stick with the material on practical application. You don’t need inspiration.
On the other side, there are a lot of talkers who can sell you a dream and claim authority but they do not walk the walk.
Anyone can call themselves an expert if they know a scintilla more than you do.
MOST (90%, if I am being generous) of everything published on the internet regarding wealth, health and relationships is complete JUNK written by people who do not DO what they claim to know.
You must always verify authenticity.
Have you ever seen an out-of-shape fitness instructor at the gym? I have. It boggles my mind to see people pay green dollars and red cents to take lessons from them!
Or an academic making $40k/year teaching MBA courses when they’ve never built a successful business in the real world.
Some people have a certificates that says they are an authority, but they don’t live what they teach!
On the internet it is difficult to verify authenticity and, on the other end, difficult for a true authority to gain trust.
There are a lot of ‘authorities’ who are full of shit but still maintain a huge following of lemmings.
There seems to be an unfortunate trend of one huckster referring another ad infinitum as a trade of establishing fraudulent credibility.
It should be somewhat clear with a bit of digging if someone is really focused on providing valuable content or if they are just in it for the quick-buck.
Here are examples of profitable blogs with value-focused content and clearly demonstrable authority:
Knowledge is internalized through action
Assuming that you are not a complete newb at whatever you are after… a good book or two and half-a-dozen articles is P L E N T Y to get started.
Figure putting in TEN hours of actual work for every ONE hour you spend reading.
Then much less reading once you are on your way.
For a youth, free-reading without intent is absolutely critical.
For a young-man, reading good books with cloudy intent is important.
For an adult, the application of the knowledge is what counts.
Knowing is not enough.
Reading, researching and theorizing will NOT make you wise nor smart nor successful… unless perhaps you are an academic in the hard sciences.
Its not what you know, it’s what you DO.
Your application of the knowledge is your intelligence.
The rest is up to you…