How To Learn Almost Anything By Reading

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All the skills that have earned me money, I acquired by self-study. Reading. 

  • I owe all my Excel skills to reading and practice. I didn't take any formal class in Excel. The first time I came across a formal training outline for Excel was while standing in as a training associate for a training firm. Now my livelihood is hinged on my Excel skills. Skills I acquired via reading and practicing what I read.
  • I have OCA, CCNA and CCNA voice certifications. I have worked as a CCNA instructor for a computer institute and was almost worshiped there. During my NYSC, I made some money as a private CCNA trainer. The only CCNA classes I have been in were the ones I was the trainer. I also got offers to facilitate Oracle training, which I turned down. The last offer was for N150,000 for a 5 days training with hotel accommodation and feeding. I acquired all these skills solely from reading books and practicing what I read. No formal class.
  • I still have a pending offer to become an online Linux instructor. I once made N150,000 from training a few people on Linux for less than a week. I have never worked on a Linux system that wasn't mine until I had become a Linux guru. I have written Linux shell scripts. I have installed Linux (over) 100 times. I have never attended a Linux training that I wasn't the facilitator. Everything I learned on Linux is self taught, from books.
  • I have learned more French from self-study than from formal classes. Swimming and French language are the only skills I have taken paid classes on. 
  • All my programming skills are self taught, from books. 
  • I hope you have been noticing the improvement in my writing skill. And only one thing is responsible for that -- reading books on writing.
  • I'm one of the exclusive members of an online expert community. I got a personal invitation from the founder, a US guy. I answer people's technical questions and have made some people's day. One even gave me his contacts in case I needed anything he could help with. Another wanted to give me a bear hug. Where did I learn the answers I provided? Mostly from reading.
  • At the start of this year, I got an invitation to apply for a Valuation Analyst job for the Merger and Acquisitions arm of a big US technology firm. I went through a 3 hours test that covered Bookkeeping, Accounting, Finance, Microsoft Excel and Use of English. I passed and got a trial job, but I was still working full-time then and couldn't make out time for the trial job. How did I become so good in Finance, Accounting and Bookkeeping? You guessed right! Through reading, and putting my life saving in the stock market.
Today, I will show you the trick that has made it very easy for me to learn and become an expert solely from reading. With this trick you will be able to learn almost anything.

Like the advert on achieving an HIV/AIDS free generation, it begins with you. To learn from a book, any book, you matter most. Not the book nor the way it is written matters as much as you. I have read all types of book, even french books. Books that gave me headache while reading. And I'm sure you've had similar experiences while in the university. And you will agree with me that despite the headache you still learned from the book, even if it was just what was enough to make you pass a particular exam.

If you read with a mindset of finishing a book, no matter what, you will end up greatly increasing the amount of knowledge/skill you will gain from the book. What can be more boring than reading a book on freestyle swimming? Well, I have one of such books. I paid for the book and it's shipping to Nigeria. It's 2 years now since I have bought the book and I'm yet to get to half of it. It's so boring I seldom read more than a few pages at once. But without that book I will still be struggling with having the right form and breathing without lifting my head. 

To help me have the right mindset, I always buy the books I read. I don't borrow books or download them free online. Even when people send me the pdf copies of books I would love to read, I delete them and buy them. Buying books force me to read them with the attention and dedication required. It's like going to the cinema. You won't want to miss any scene. Despite the warnings and greater need, people still pick phone calls in church. But I have never seen anyone pick a phone call in the movie room. It rarely happens. That's how powerful paying for a thing can be. And for me, books are the things I spend on most. I still end up not reading every book I buy, but I buy them with the mindset of reading them cover to cover.

So once you have gotten the mindset of reading the book no matter what, the next and last step is to read several books on what you want to learn. I have more than one French grammar books. Maybe 5 or 6. Even when I google for something online, I often open as many as 8 search results at once. And I often read everyone, even if I found the answer in the first. When it comes to learning a skill or acquiring specialized knowledge, you don't know what you don't know. There are so many things that you don't know exist, and you'll seldom come across everything in one book. You'll have to read several.

In summary, to learn almost anything by reading books -- read with the mindset to finish and read a lot of books on the same thing.

Happy new week!


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