Every book has at least one idea that will change who you are, how you think or how you do things forever and ever. When you read with this purpose in mind, you will attract the right ideas, the BIG ideas, to you. If you try to memorize, outline, highlight or write pages of notes, you are very likely (perhaps even destined) to miss the BIG idea!
You must learn to use discernment to capture your BEST idea. Success is not about capturing ALL the ideas in a book. You will never capture all the great ideas in a book. Greatness is attained by focusing on the one BIG idea, capturing that one BIG idea and then applying that one BIG idea!
And these BIG ideas will apply across many areas of your life, both personally and professionally. I once had an argument with a peer at work. In the argument, he had given me some constructive criticism and it stung. I didn’t agree with it. I debated it with him and there was some heat in the discussion. I ruminated on the unfair criticism for a long time. The day after the argument, still nursing my self-inflicted wounds, I left for vacation. On my vacation, I was reading Deepak Chopra’s The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire. About halfway through the book, I encountered this, “When someone criticizes you, handle it the same way that you would handle flattery and say ‘thank you.’ Don’t say anything else. Don’t debate the criticism. Just say ‘thank you.’ It takes a lot of courage to give a person feedback, and in order to learn from the feedback, it is best to just say ‘thank you.’” I started thinking back through the criticism my peer had delivered and was shocked to discover that there was some truth to what he had pointed out. I adjusted my style based on that coaching and, to be honest, it was one of the best improvements that I’ve ever accomplished. It has changed who I am, how I think and how I do things ever since. In addition to that, I started to develop the habit of just saying “thank you” when people give me feedback. This creates an environment where people are more willing to give me feedback and I’m able to make more improvements.
A few years ago, two of our sales people approached me with an idea that they thought could improve our sales close rates. When I first heard their idea, it wasn’t necessarily a bad idea, I just couldn’t figure out how to make it work within our financial model…we couldn’t afford it. Six months later, I was reading The Perfect SalesForce by Derek Gatehouse and encountered an idea that, combined with my sales people’s idea, might solve the problem on how to make the financial model work. We launched a series of tests to prove out the model. The result was a 75% lift in our sales results. This idea created a whole new career path for our sales force, helped new sales people to be more successful, quicker, enabled marketing to be more effective and created hundreds of new jobs. We moved the bottom line and top line numbers way beyond our expectations. We changed who we are, how we thought and how we did things at DEFENDER forever and ever.