We live in the information age, dominated by the development of the internet and computer power to levels that were unimaginable even a few years ago. Because out world is changing so rapidly, knowledge today is doubling approximately every two to three years. This means that you must double your knowledge in your field every two to three years just to stay even.
Becoming a well-equipped and proficient reader today is not optional. Building a personal library and becoming an excellent reader is mandatory for success in any field. It is no longer something you can choose to do or not to do. It is absolutely essential and indispensable for your success.
There is an unwritten law that says, to earn more, you must learn more. The future belongs to the competent. And the race is on. America today is not divided into the lower, middle, and upper classes. Rather, America is divided into those who know less, those who know more but do very little with it, and those who know a lot more and do a lot with it.
The most powerful factor of production not just in America but in the world today is not money or real estate. The most valuable factor of production in the world today is knowledge. Money and opportunities flow to the people who have the most knowledge.
So why don’t people read more? One of the main reasons people often give, is that they don’t have enough time. They are so busy with work and family that they barely have time to read the daily newspaper, let alone books or magazines. So if lack of time is a major factor for people not reading enough, let’s look at how you can read more in less time.
You possess the most powerful computer in the universe, right between your ears. To be able to read faster we have to understand how the brain actually assimilates information. Even though we have this phenomenal bio-computer inside our head, we plod along, reading at an average of two hundred words per minute. But recent research has shown that the eye/brain system is much more powerful than we’ve ever thought. How can we read and assimilate information so that the brain can function at its peak, creating and remembering more data?
The eye is like a camera: it focuses on something, stops its movement, photographs, imprints, and moves on to the next thing. If you actually diagram the way the reading eye moves, it looks like a series of little hops over the words. Most people’s focus skips, regresses, and wanders off the page, limiting the reading rate to one or two words at a time.
The average person reads about two hundred words a minute. The average comprehension is about 70 percent. And the average recall of what has been comprehended is about five percent after two weeks.
Think about your own education, of all the books you’ve read; How many book titles do you remember. How many authors? Formulas? Bits of information? How would you do on a test, if you were asked to take one right now? Most people have forgotten nearly all of their education. So reading has somehow not produced the kind of results that we’ve expected it should have. If we look at the way the eye works and the formulas for reading, we find that there are easy ways to improve both reading speed and comprehension.
Most of us were told in school to read “slowly and carefully” to improve comprehension, but if you actually try to read that way, your attention will wander, the information will become fragmented, disjointed, and you’ll comprehend less. For example, have someone read the last sentence of a paragraph to you, very slowly, and you’ll see what I mean. The slower you read, the worse it gets.
When you look at someone who reads faster than the average person, you'll find that their eyes move in the same way as everyone else, stopping on the words, photographing, move and stop, photograph. But the person who reads at an above average speed uses a very simple formula.
Reading studies have shown, that it is the brain that sees, while the eyes just act as a “limb.” The brain needs larger chunks of information so it can process them at the speed of its natural thought.
In order to read faster, you need to focus your brain’s attention to see three, four, five, or more words in phrased clumps, instead of the normal one or two words that most people see. In this way, you can take in larger amounts of information at once. At the same time, you have to shorten the time your focus pauses on each set of words. Instead of focusing on two words at a time and stopping for a second, you should force yourself to focus on four words and stop for a half a second.
Another secret to help you improve your reading speed is to eliminate back-skipping and the regressions that characterize the reading of the average person. To do this, you simply use a pointer or a pen to point at each line, following the rows of text at rapid speed.
The eye is designed to follow movement because the brain uses the eye as sort of a scanner of your environment. So, if everything is still, the brain subconsciously registers the idea that everything is peaceful and in harmony, thus eliminating the need for increased brain activity. But the moment there’s movement, the brain’s processes change. It activates instinctively and concentrates on the stimulus, processing a visual input.
When you put a pen or some sort of pointer (do not use your finger because it tends to block too much of the page) underneath the line of the text and move it to the right, you pull your eye along. At the end of each line, move your pointer to the beginning of the next line.
Always read line by line. Although it may not seem faster, consider that, with an average of 12 words per line, multiplied by your new rate of a half second for every three or four words, you can read each line in two seconds. When you do the math, you find that you’re up to 460 words per minute. By using a pointer or a guide, you can increase your reading speed two, three, or more times.
And your comprehension increases when you input information rapidly into your brain without lingering over it.
With practice, you will achieve this positive, synergistic relationship between your eye and your brain. So, when you read, just remember to photograph, using your pointer or guide to move your eye along. The more you read this way, the more you will learn, the more you will remember, and the more you will be able to create.
You need to read an hour or two each day just to keep current with your field. You need to read nonfiction books that are both educational and motivational. Read newspapers, magazines, newsletters, correspondence, and other materials. But you don’t get ahead with regular reading. You must invest in the future while keeping current with the present. If you want to get ahead, you must read things that give you new ideas and insights, not merely things that confirm what you already know.
Becoming a proficient and persistent reader is the key to your future. It may not be easy do, but it’s certainly possible. Just as you can expand your vocabulary by practicing and application, you can become proficient in reading. The future belongs to the competent. Those who know more will always win out over those who know less. The true mark of a high achieving man or woman is that he or she is better educated and more knowledgeable than the average person. And the more you read, the better you get. The more you learn, the easier it is for you to learn. The more you challenge your mind, and the more you draw your intelligence, the smarter you get.
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. If you want to move ahead and be successful, start building your personal library today. Dedicate yourself to lifelong reading. With knowledge, and the skills that come from applying that knowledge, there is no limit on how far you can go.
Copyright© 2005 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.