(One of the 83 quick and practical life & work lessons from Sh*t Sandwich: Quick & Practical Success Lessons for Practically Anyone.)
In case the last lesson didn’t sink in: pick up a book, or a Kindle or tablet or a…
The absolute simplest and cheapest way to learn anything is to find a well-reviewed book on a given subject and read it with earnest.
Notice that even with technology today that I didn’t advise you to read a blog or online industry forum. While these are almost always free, truly more than ninety percent of the blogs and forums written today are filled with vendor pitches poorly disguised as advice. They are nearly pure drivel, and you’re better off reading fiction if you want your reading to matter.
Certainly, this does not mean you should wholly avoid online advice and information; as it is often the most timely. Just be sure to stick to the authors you deem to be at least semi-agenda-free.
Hint: In any blog, article, or forum discussion you read online; ask yourself who benefits when you follow the advice given? For example, if my firm sells supplements containing “Miracle X,” and I pen an article detailing the health benefits from taking “Miracle X,” can you trust anything I write on the subject? Unfortunately, it is often hard to determine who paid for what online article to be written. This is why I always prefer a well-reviewed book on healthy living that highlights all the “Miracles.” Then, I can choose which ones make the most sense for me.
Of course, there are always subjects so new that offline resources (at least well-reviewed ones) might be hard to find. In these instances, I like to apply some logic I’ve always tried to follow when someone wants to sell me a shiny object: “We don’t sell plasma.”
I’m speaking about the blood plasma, of course. Unless you sell plasma, no one is going to die if you step back, take a deep breath, and think things through. Or, in the case of the latest shiny object, take some time to evaluate its merits before diving in with both feet. Given the likelihood that complete idiots and shiny object vendors have overwhelmingly skewed the online discussion about a new subject, you are almost always better off taking a “wait and see” approach.
Wait, what’s the real lesson here?
The lesson is to read. Read something. Read anything. Studies show that Fortune 500 CEOs read an average of one book each week.
Surely, you have as much free time as they do, right?