I’m currently in hot competition with a friend of mine. Right now, he’s leading 6-5. And I don’t like it. By nature I’m competitive. I don’t like losing at anything.
But hang on… This might be one that I’ll be pleased to lose. In fact, it might be a good idea if I fell further and further behind. Maybe I’ll be losing 15-5 when he finally gives up…
Because the competition is something of a standing joke between us. You see, we both have a file on our desktops called “Stuff I need to read” or words to that effect. When I see something on the internet that I think would be useful, I open the file, write a one-line description and cut & paste the link. And yes, I fully intend to look at the article/stats/infographic as soon as I get the chance. After all, it was really important information and I seriously need to read it.
My pal does exactly the same. And so – I’m sure – do a great many people reading this blog. If there’s any advance on six pages, let me know.
There are important – and useful – documents in that folder:
I’m absolutely sure that if I went through my five pages and read all the articles I’d find something to benefit my business. In exactly the same way that my first boss was sure that if he read…
Those were the days when trade magazines weren’t the sexy, virtual little numbers that they are today. They were thick, they were glossy, and they landed on the corporate doormat every Friday morning. And Richard needed to read them, because they were full of useful information, trade gossip and trends. He went through them, highlighted the articles he needed to read and then put the magazines in the ‘to-be-read’ pile on his desk. Gradually the pile built up. Higher…and higher. Eventually it was a major engineering feat to keep the magazine tower from toppling over. Then one day they were gone.
“That must have been some job,” I said as I walked in for my appraisal. “How long did it take to read all those?”
Richard looked at me over his glasses. “Oh, Ed,” he sighed. “You’ve a lot to learn. You see Pauline?” He glanced at his secretary on the other side of the glass panel.
“Yes?” (I was really eager to learn.)
“When the pile gets so big that Pauline can’t see me through the glass she comes in and chucks them out. Then I start again.”
Maybe I need a virtual Pauline to come and delete the “Stuff I need to read’” folder…
These days, we’re drowning in information – and a lot of it is seriously useful. But sometimes it’s too easy to read too much, to think too much – to suffer from ‘analysis paralysis.’ We can read and analyse and plan and make lists of goals…but it’s only taking action that produces results. While Richard wasn’t reading his pile of trade magazines, he was on the phone to customers – or face-to-face, building and cementing long term relationships with them. (And hopefully I was paying attention.)
So if anyone’s brave enough to do it, here’s a challenge. For the next month, don’t cut and paste any links. Whatever it is, you don’t need to read it. Stop worrying about what you don’t know and be happy with what you do know. And act on it.
Have a great weekend – and I’ll be back next Friday with a children’s story…