17 Nov How To Become An Unstoppable Learning Machine (10 Strategies For Constant Growth)

This article is for the serious fitness enthusiast, coach, or athlete who wants to continue to develop themselves and evolve, beyond what they do in the gym.

I believe that sometimes you have to look in the mirror and ask yourself the question “how am I really getting better?

This article is about how to develop a strong mind, a rich mind – and I’ll share the specific strategies that I personally use.

I write and talk about physical strength, it’s time to talk about the mental side of high performance and growth.

Here’s something that really surprised me.

I once heard legendary strength coach Louie Simmons say…

“Coaches today simply don’t read enough books.”

Have to say, I was really shocked by that.

I’ll share my two cents on that statement later.

You may know that I love books (if you didn’t know that, you do now).

I’m always recommending books on the podcast and even in articles.

How can I possibly read this much?

I’ll tell you how in this article.

My feeling is this.

Books change lives and they can make you better in so many ways.

I’m often asked what tips and advice I have for reading and learning.

No matter what your background is, my big goal for you is to always help you get better in some way – physically and mentally.

DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU

I was in a conversation with a buddy not too long ago.

He was asking me what movies I had downloaded on a recent flight.

He was surprised when I said – “I didn’t download any movies, man.”

Instead of watching movies during the flight, I devoured a few great books as I always do (*this is a strategy called ‘binge reading’ that you’ll read more about).

When I told him I read a few books, he thought for a minute, then replied (exact quote);

I can’t remember the last time I read a book.

I probably haven’t read a book since high school (*my buddy was probably in his late 50’s, I think).

I guess I should do that.

I should probably start feeding my mind more often, huh?

I was floored.

Not read a book since high school?

I thought he was kidding.

He was not.

Then I thought about the reality of his statement and realized how many other people were like him.

It’s a fact.

Many people simply don’t read.

Why?

I’ve heard many experts say “people don’t read books anymore.

I disagree with that, however.

People do read, but it’s the minority of people who are truly readers today.

For whatever reason, many people fail to take advantage of something so powerful as reading life-changing books and constantly developing themselves to their full potential.

Whether you are an athlete or a coach, the truth is that if you want to “move the needle” more towards being your best, simply read more, learn more, and apply what you learn.

If you want to move the needle more towards being your best, simply read more. -Scott IardellaClick To Tweet

All the answers we’re looking for are in the books we read.

It’s as simple as that.

DEVELOP THE STRONG MIND

For me, strength training goes way beyond just spending time in the gym.

That is only part of the equation to become your best.

I want to share with you exactly how I read countless books every year to improve the quality of my life.

You’ll learn my personal secrets “super-learning.”

I read books for one simple reason, to be a better person.

Now, you do not have to be a voracious reader.

As a matter of fact, I’ll share specific tips and tricks to supercharge your knowledge and literally become an unstoppable learning machine –  even if you’re not a big fan of reading books.

WHAT DO YOU VALUE?

Start with your values.

Here’s what I mean.

One of my 3 core values is growth.

Growth is a subject of pure passion for me because if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

We are here to grow and constantly develop ourselves.

We are here to excel.

If you’re reading this, then I know you’re interested in becoming better in some way and you’re seeking the next level.

With that in mind, what’s the one thing that can give you faster, better results in literally any area of your life?

If you’re working with people, you can help them and serve them at a higher level by helping yourself first.

The one thing you can do is be a lifelong learner.

Actually, learning is not enough though.

You have to actually take action with what you learn.

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Even if you’re not a book reader, I’ll share some simple strategies to transform how you think about reading to become a “learning machine” so that you can constantly continue to grow and evolve.

WHY READ?

Why don’t people read more?

This has been a burning question for me for some time.

What’s the answer?

Some of the big reasons I’ve heard are:

  • No time
  • No interest
  • Don’t enjoy reading
  • Books are too expensive

“No time” is a common excuse – you know it and I know it.

But, that’s a smoke screen for “it’s not a priority.”

The busiest and most successful people I know always find time to read.

Reading is the easiest and fastest way to make yourself better in every way possible.

Books contain blueprints for results.

Books are wisdom, insights, and experiences from the smartest and most successful people in the world who have already done what you want to do.

Have I convinced you yet about the importance of learning?

Great.

One of the greatest gifts I’ll ever give my kids is to help them to discover the importance of lifelong reading – and learning – because I know it will change their lives almost more than anything else.

Why read?

Why would deprive yourself from the gift of growth?

QUICK BACKGROUND…

First, I am NOT a speed reader.

My reading speed has probably increased in recent years, but I am not a speed reader by any means.

I like to read and “absorb” material.

I also do not have a photographic memory (while that would be awesome, it’s just not the case for me.)

I do enjoy reading.

But, I don’t really read for pleasure.

I don’t read just for the sake of reading.

I read for knowledge and insights.

I read for action (see strategies below).

Do I read books cover to cover?

Most of the time I like to read books cover to cover, but I don’t always do that.

It depends.

Sometimes I will skip around a book.

Sometimes I can skim certain sections of a book if they’re not as relevant, interesting, or actionable to me.

But, in general, I take my time reading.

Next, I tend to read a few books at any given time.

What I mean is that I typically am always reading at least a few books a time.

Why do I do that?

It’s not an ‘A.D.D.’ thing, it’s a multi-learning thing and it seems to keep my brain fresh.

I like to learn about different subjects and experiences.

I like to see different styles of writing.

This strategy may not be appropriate for everyone, but this is usually how I read. I read a few books at a time.

I’ll talk more about this in a minute.

Some books, I read and devour in a few days.

For example, when I read Dan John’s work, this is how I read them.

I start reading.

I focus.

I finish reading from cover to cover (usually in a couple of days).

Enough of the background and introduction, let’s talk specific strategies and what I do.

STRATEGY #1: BUY PRINT BOOKS

It’s important to start here as I expand on later strategies.

Let me explain this one for my kindle and e-reader friends.

I much prefer print books as compared to kindle books.

Why?

Because I refer back to print books much easier and faster than looking for things my computer or device, where’s things tend to get lost or go unread.

Call me “old school,” but I like to hold physical books in my hand.

I like to crack open a brand new book with that new book feel and experience.

As I read, I like to highlight, mark them up, and refer back to them for continued learning.

Yes, I have some kindle books, but I much prefer print books because I actually use them much more.

As I mentioned, there are many great books I want to give to my kids when they get older.

Giving them books that have changed my life is part of leaving a legacy, in my opinion.

If you want to know about what I think are the BEST strength training books ever written, here’s my newly revised list.

STRATEGY #2: CARRY A BOOK WITH YOU EVERYWHERE

This is very simple and I won’t go into much detail because it’s self explanatory.

Whenever I go anywhere with my backpack, you can bet there’s a book in there somewhere.

You never know when opportunities will come up for you to read, even if only for a few minutes.

We’ll talk more about this in strategy #3.

Keep a book with you at all times.

STRATEGY #3: APPLY THE 10-10 RULE

This is golden.

The 10-10 RULE is the easiest way I know to become a consistent and productive reader.

This is the #1 recommendation I could offer for anyone to supercharge their reading and learning because it’s so easy and anyone can do it.

Please don’t tell me you’re too busy to apply this one strategy.

Reading is a habit.

Just like any other habit, you have to do it every day to make it stick.

The 10-10 rule works like this.

Commit to reading for a minimum of 10 minutes a day or commit to reading 10 pages a day.

That’s the 10-10 rule (10 minutes or 10 pages).

Either way, it basically works out to be about the same.

The truth is that we can all commit to 10 minutes a day to read – no matter what.

If you do this, I your promise it will change your life.

The real beauty of the 10-10 rule is that you usually end up reading much more than 10 minutes – more than 10 pages.

I’ve said this many times now – and it’s so true.

But, 10 minutes is the minimum threshold to shoot for.

This simple strategy works, folks.

Can you take 10 minutes each day to crack open a book?

No doubt.

Now, let’s break down the math of what reading 10 pages a day can look like over the course of a year so you can see the power of compound interest here.

What 10 pages a day means to you:

  • 70 pages a week
  • 300+ pages a month (roughly a book and a half)
  • 3,650 pages a year
  • Approximately 18 books read over a year
  • 18 great books read in a year can change your life

And, the truth is that one book that is acted on can massively change your life.

Remember, the goal of reading is to Read For Action (RFA), I’ll tell you more about this in another strategy.

What if you read 18 books a year and takeaway 18 key actions that you implement in your life.

Let me ask you, what could 18 great books mean to you in the span of a year?

What kind of impact could reading 18 life-changing, self development books have in your life?

The truth is that one book, one big idea, and one thing acted on can make all the difference.

STRATEGY #4: BINGE READ

I wanted to mention this because it’s something I do sometimes.

I’m doing this now as there are so many fantastics books I want to read at the moment.

Instead of binge-watching that Netflix series (which does nothing for you), binge read.

Here’s what that looks like:

I buy a few books at once (maybe 3-4)

I go into full immersion in reading, usually over the course of a week or a few days (this means I’m reading for a few hours a day sometimes)

I will usually focus on one book, but I may bounce back and forth a bit between books – this is not A.D.D., but I’ve found it to be a good way to refresh my mind

I consume a lot of information in a short period of time – this is “binge reading.”

STRATEGY #5: SKIM AND SCAN

I will admit that I don’t always read every book I get.

I get so many books that sometimes it’s hard to keep up.

Skim and scan is not my preferred strategy, but it is something I will do there’s too many books I’m looking to get to.

The truth is that this can be a really effective way to approach book reading.

For big books, this is definitely something I will do.

I skim the book.

Then scan for key takeaways, ideas, and actions that I can use.

That leads right into the next strategy.

STRATEGY #6: DON’T READ FUN, READ FOR ACTION!

Reading should be something you enjoy.

I’m not saying don’t have fun reading, but enjoyment is not the primary goal here.

When you read the books I’m talking about (non-fiction, educational, and developmental books), you have to read for action

That means you read to do something with the material, otherwise you’re just reading for reading’s sake or simply reading for pleasure.

Why do I read?

To improve the quality of my life in some way so that I can help others – plain and simple.

What I do when I read is highlight, make notations, and take specific notes.

I usually capture key ideas and actions in a journal and then I can refer back to my journal.

Again, I tease out the important information and things I want to use and I put them into a journal.

If you take away one big thing from any book you read and apply it, it was worth your time.

With that in mind, it’s nearly impossible to read any book and not take away at least one big idea, don’t you think?

If you take away one big thing from any book you read and apply it, it was worth your time. Click To Tweet

STRATEGY #7: USE ALTERNATIVE LEARNING METHODS

What if you really hate to read?

What if you really don’t want to read?

Well, I feel for you man.

No one can make you read, there has to be something within you to go and do it.

Alternative methods are ways to learn besides reading complete books.

I’ll share more specifics below about what I use, but for now, alternative methods are:

  • Book summaries
  • Audio books
  • Podcasts 
  • Online courses and training videos
  • DVD products

Remember, this article is about how to become a “super-learner.”

You don’t have to read to be a super-learner, although I highly recommend it.

The fact is there are many ways to learn and improve yourself.

Reading is one way.

One very powerful way.

EXAMPLES OF PERSONAL RESOURCES FOR READING (AND LEARNING)

Reading is great, but there are many other learning opportunities in today’s technological age.

Here’s some of the recommended resources for you to consider.

These are my primary personal learning resources for learning.

Audible.com A great selection of downloadable audiobooks. I go through various spurts of listening to audio books, as well. And, this is a great way to reinforce books that you may have read.

GetAbstract.com These are 5 pages summaries of hundreds of the best business and developmental books out there. This has been one of my “best kept secrets” for learning and discovering great new books. This is phenomenal!

OTPbooks.com One of my personal favorites for strength and performance educational resources. I have many products from OTP and this an essential website for the coach or trainer.

ApplePodcasts (formerly iTunes) Podcasts are a wealth of information on every topic imaginable and you’ll find many podcasts interviewing best-selling authors discussing their work, including The Rdella Training Podcast where I’m grateful to have interviewed countless authors.

Additional Resources:

  • Your FREE public library (for books and audio books)
  • Websites and online newsletters
  • Journals and professional publications in your area of interest

STRATEGY #8: ATTEND WORKSHOPS/SEMINARS/CONFERENCES

If we’re talking about becoming a “super learner,” sometimes things you read cannot be fully learned by reading a book.

Attending “live” events is immersive and transformational.

You can read about kettlebells.

You can read about Olympic Weightlifting.

But, at some point you’ve got to go get hands-on training and get feedback.

You need to go and learn from Pavel.

You need to go learn from Greg Everett.

Learning from any top coach or expert is always going to be a game-changer.

For example, when I started training with kettlebells, I read an entire book about kettlebell training and I thought I knew what I was doing.

I was wrong.

I discovered how poor my technique as soon as I attended my first ever kettlebell workshop.

Depending on the topic your trying to learn, reading a book will take you only so far.

STRATEGY #9: TEACH

If you really want to learn something, teach it.

Teaching really reinforces your own learning at a much deeper level.

Does teaching make you nervous or scare you a little?

That’s a good thing because it gets you out of your comfort zone and that is where growth occurs.

Go and teach something that you just learned.

STRATEGY #10: RE-READ

There are many books that I will go back and re-read.

This is critical.

If you think about it, reading a book once will only introduce you to the material.

When you re-read a book, you tend to learn it much better.

This is another very powerful way to understand things on a deeper level and I don’t think people do this enough.

This is another reason I much prefer print books.

I can quickly and easily pull a book off my shelf anytime to re-read it – and I do this often.

Re-reading is a key step forward in super-learning.

PARTING ADVICE – IF YOU’RE A READER

If you’re a reader, then I hope this article has further solidified your “need to read.”

Maybe you have some new learning ideas to implement that I’ve outlined.

No matter where you are – never, ever stop learning and growing.

We are born to learn, we are born to grow.

Again, why would you ever deprive yourself from the great gift of perpetual growth?

WHAT IF YOU’RE NOT A READER?

If you don’t read much (or don’t enjoy reading), maybe you’ve found some other ideas here to implement that can get you going.

My hope is that you can see the massive impact that reading can have on you in a year by implementing something as simple as the 10-10 rule.

In the beginning of this article, I referenced a quote by legendary strength coach Louie Simmons.

The coaches that I know, they do read a lot.

The fact is that most people, in general, do not.

My advice to you is to find one thing in this article and take action with it.

What one strategy can you walk away with and apply today?

Answer that question before you leave.

It’s not what you learn, it’s what you do with what you learn.

Books can change lives – both yours and those you work with.

Remember that.

Scott Iardella, MPT, CSCS is a strength coach, athlete, and former “physio” who’s mission is to bridge the gaps in strength, performance and injury prevention. At Rdella Training, you’ll learn how to train at a high level of strength and performance while minimizing (or negating) risk for injury to achieve an unsurpassed level of results.
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