Michael Hyatt’s Leaderbox – First Impressions

If you want to see what a Leaderbox looks like, here’s my unboxing and first impressions:

I told myself I wasn’t going to do it. I told myself it was too much money. But then, I received a 10% off coupon for Michael Hyatt’s Leaderbox and I thought I’d revisit my initial decision.

After thinking about Leaderbox some more, I ended up joining.

What caused me to take the jump? Basically, the coupon came at the right time.

In a previous blog post, I wrote about reassessing how I read. I realized that if I was going to learn deeply, I had to read differently. So, fewer books.

I also realized physical books would help in my quest. I am able to make notes in a physical book. I can highlight and underline. At the end of each chapter, I can give feedback or write out a summary. For learning, I decided I would focus on physical rather than electronic books.

Leaderbox provides the tools I feel I need. Each month Leaderbox provides two (physical) books, a 21-day reading guide, a facebook group, and some quote cards. The Reading Guide asks questions about the day’s reading and provides a place for notes. The Facebook group provides an opportunity to learn from others. My hope and expectation are that my learning will be deepened and my thinking will be challenged and expanded.

The other aspect of Leaderbox that will be helpful is Hyatt’s team choosing the book. If I want to learn deeply and think differently, my reading must challenge me. I tend to gravitate toward the same type of books. I’ll browse through Amazon, see something that looks good, and then purchase.

Having someone else choose the book means I may end up reading a book I would normally avoid, which is good. If I am going to expand my thinking, I need to be challenged in areas I tend to ignore.

I could have decided to purchase a similar product from other companies, but I felt the books (at least the ones I knew about) Hyatt’s team provided were of higher quality. For instance, one of the books for March,The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors That Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders, as of this posting, hasn’t even been released. I received the book two weeks before the release. The authors expand on their Harvard Business Review cover story.

 

Why I Started Reading Fewer Books

I love reading books. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. I love the thought of reading. Reading, on the other hand, I find taxing.

I know many people who love reading. I’m not one of them. What I do love is learning. Since reading provides me the best and, perhaps, the most effective way to learn, I read. While I don’t necessarily find reading enjoyable, I read anyway.

Did you know over 300,000 books are published every year in the US? Yes, every year. That seems a tad excessive.

Thanks, Gutenberg!

If it wasn’t for his amazing printing press, there would be fewer books in the world. I would also have far fewer books on my bookshelf and in my Kindle.

I suffer from a buying books addiction. I can’t stop! I buy book after book, but I don’t always read them. Every time I look at my bookshelf, or look at my Kindle library and see all the unread books, I feel guilty.

Last year I decided to alleviate my guilt. I would make more time for reading. My reading would be intentional and focused. I would have a plan!

My plan revolved around creating two lists; Books I want to read and books I have read. I would choose a book from the “want to read” list and read that book and only that. Instead of having multiple half-read books, I would focus on one book and read it from beginning to end.

I would also keep track of the books that I read. Tracking would help me stay motivated, give me a plan to address my unread books, and provide feedback on my progress.

I am happy to report that my plan worked!

I read more books! I read a lot more books. I started my plan in April and by October I had read 53 books. I estimate, if I would have tracked the whole year, I would have read somewhere around 70 or 80 books.

I would read anywhere from one to three books a week. I was tearing through my unread books with ease. It was great. I felt good about myself and was proud of my accomplishment.

And then I stopped.

I didn’t stop reading. I stopped following my plan. I stopped tracking. I didn’t stop because I got lazy, I stopped with intention and purpose.

Why stop tracking when my approach seemed so effective? Basically, there were two problems with my plan that I didn’t anticipate.

For one, I was after the wrong goal.

If you looked at my list, you would see the books A Curious Mind (9 days), New to 5 (1 day), and Emotional Agility (5 days). Were they good books? I think so. To be honest, I can’t remember too much about them. Did I read them? Well, I saw all the words. I underlined things that seemed important. I can go back to Kindle and look at my highlights. Yet, I’m not sure the experience of “reading” those books was really what I wanted.

My stated goal was to read more books, which I was. But my real goal was to learn, which I wasn’t doing. I’m not sure I learned too much from any of those books. The fault wasn’t with the author, the fault was with me!

The second problem with my plan was the books I was choosing to read.

While I was reading a lot of books, I found I was gravitating toward books that seemed easier to read. If a book covered a difficult topic or seemed like it might take a long time to read, I wouldn’t pick it from my “to read” list. I started looking at the “average reading time” that Kindle lists and used that to pick the next book on my hit list.

In October, I decided to stop keeping track. Instead, I would focus on learning and choose books that could take longer to read, but offered a deeper insight and understanding of the subject matter.

Here are some key takeaways from my new approach:

  1. Passive reading isn’t the same as active reading.

  2. It’s okay to have unread books.

  3. Interacting with the book means I need a physical copy.

  4. Reading may not come naturally.

I am also learning that I don’t really know how to read a book. Not for deep learning anyway. So, I brushed off my copy of How to Read a Book that, I, ironically, listened to on Audible a few years back, and so I might find a process that helps me learn.

I assume I will be reading fewer books, but I am convinced I will gain a deeper understanding of the subject, read more challenging books, and, who knows, might just enjoy reading!

I may write another post outlining the process that I land on for reading. Right now, my process is too new to share. I have to live with a process for a while tweaking it through trial and error.

If you have a process or technique you use to read, share in the comments!

In With The Old

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Rob Bell is coming out with a new book at the end of this month. There’s been quite the buzz over the past week. There are some who are concerned that Bell is now a universalist while others are concerned that labels are being applied without first reading the book.

I have a different problem….

.there are just too many books. 

I like Rob Bell. I like his video series. I used to listen to his sermons via MP3s while driving in the car. But I’ve only read one book, Velvet Elvis. In fact, a friend and I did a podcast reviewing the book. The other books either didn’t interest me, or I thought they were too expensive for the content (that’s another issue however).

Anyway, I actually have a new problem now…I just not that interested. Over the past few years I have grown dissatisfied with types of books being published. I’m sure there are some very good books, but who has the time to read through them to discover which ones are good? I don’t. A lot of the books being published can be read through in a few hours. They are very ‘consumer’ oriented. They are meant to be consumed; read, marked up, discussed, and then put on a shelf. I’m tired of the consumer book.

It could just be me though. Perhaps it is how I approach reading. It seems, however, that books that were the ‘hit’ five or ten years ago aren’t that big of a hit now. We have moved on. But why? Why is the shelf life so short?

I find I am being drawn to books that have been around for a while. If a book that is over three hundred years old is still being published, there is probably a reason. I want to know why. Books by St. Augustine, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, John Wesley, John Cassian, etc. are not, in my opinion, easy reads. They are deep. They are thick. They have substance. Some I have read more than once and there are still depths left to explore.

Someone gave me the advice that for every new book you read make sure to read an old one. That is good advice. Be forewarned….you might find that as you read the old books you loose the desire for the new ones.

Jesus Died for This? Review (Kind of)

A couple of months ago I saw Becky Garrison offer her new book (Jesus Died for This?: A Satirist's Search for the Risen Christ )to anyone who was willing to blog about it. I try to get a free book anytime I can. That's how I roll. Anyway, I didn't know much about Becky Garrison other than for some reason I had friended her on Facebook. She was friends of some of my friends (mostly authors I like) and I figured I might as well add her to the mix. At the time I didn't know that she was a writer for the The Wittenburg D

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oor (or simply, The Door) or a religious satirist.

Since I didn't know much about Becky, I knew she knew absolutely nothing about me. So I sent her a message on Facebook along with my address, she responded, and graciously sent me a book a few weeks later. What I didn't 

know was how chaotic my life would become. What I had hoped would be a couple week turnaround to read the book and blog about it has taken me a couple of months. Nevertheless, here is the review.

I didn't know what to expect when I started reading the book. To be honest, I didn't like it at first. I guess it was the satire that was rubbing me the wrong way. Garrison says what she thinks and sometimes it isn't inline with cultural Christianity sensitivities. Now, I have no trouble with satire and I expected it based on the front cover (it is also what caused me to want to read the book). But sometimes I had to pause wondering if she didn't take things a bit too far. At times it seemed like she had a chip on her shoulder or was a bit angry…but who isn't a bit angry when it comes to how we, as Christians, sometimes live out out faith.

Another issue for me was the chapters didn't seem to be leading me anywhere. I kept thinking it was some type of travel log. I tend to read non-fiction books and I think I simply wasn't use to the genre being used. A couple of times, because of my schedule, I didn't want to continue reading it.

That being said, I'm glad I stuck with it. The issues I had with the book were my own issues. As I continued reading the book I realized this book was different from most of the ones I usually read. She was leading me somewhere, but I couldn't see it. As I continued traveling with her my heart started being touched. By the end of the book my heart was burning with the desire to discover the journey God calls me to. The book, it seems, is an attempt to paint a picture of what it looks to authentically follow Jesus.

Throughout the book Becky introduces to various aspects of living the Christian life. She does this through the story of her travels. In the book she recounts individuals she meets on her journey. Some of these are well known individuals, but the power of this book is in the unknown individuals. People who are living expressions of the love of God. They do what they do not for glory or notoriety, but because the love of God is burning within them and has to be made incarnate in some way.

I highly recommend this book, however, it could challenge you and the way you live your Christian life. Garrison says what she thinks and sometimes it can have a bite to it…although you might be chuckling as you get bit! In the end, if you have ears to hear what she is saying, you might just discover the heart of God for the least and the lost.