Post Written by Dan Kennedy
One of my earliest consulting clients was in agriculture; a company that sold highly sophisticated soil analysis services to farmers, then taking dirt samples from all over the farm and returning with a color-coded map revealing the different mineral deficiencies and needs for different fertilization to optimize yield.
The service paid for itself many times over in increased yield. One of my contributions was identifying all the 'reasons' the farmers had for not buying and crafting effective answers. There were many. Some thought it too 'fancy pants'. Some scoffed at the science. Some balked at the price. But most confessed that they weren't even doing all they already knew to do, to improve productivity, so why invest in this?
That response is right out of an old joke about the Farm Bureau representative traveling farm to farm, urging the farmers to attend the upcoming Bureau-sponsored seminar. "You'll learn all sorts of new information and ideas for better farming," enthusiastically gushed the rep – to which one wizened old farmer growled, "Ain't usin' half of what I know now."
A lot of not-very-bright people equate intellectual input to eating food. If the refrigerator's full, they don't need more. If they can't clean their plate, they most assuredly don't want a second helping. That's sensible about food. You don't really want your belly in endless expansion. But the mind? You want all the stimulation it can get, and it is fully capable of expanding to meet it, to sift and sort and organize as much as you can put on the table in front of it.
Furthermore, you don't need to fully digest and use everything you read, listen to or watch in order to get ample value from taking it all in. The value isn't in the quantity consumed. It's in gems unearthed. Personally, I process information by the pound and am happy to find a few little things I can use profitably. One such goodie in a year's time justifies my reading a newsletter every month. And value does not even require revelations of brand new things – if the input reminds you of knowledge already in your possession, nudges you into acting on some slow-simmering idea or intention, pushes you past procrastination on just one useful action, counters negative and gloom 'n doom media blather, it earns its keep. If you feel the need to excuse yourself for not acquiring, investing in and processing information, look for a smarter one than:
(a) I can't use it ALL, or
(b) I'm not using everything I already know.
That's dumb-farmer-thinking. It is NOT the thinking of exceptionally successful people.
Donald Trump says he gets up every morning at 5:30 – to read. Several daily newspapers, professional newsletters, books. I imagine the overwhelming majority of what he finds he already knows or has little interest in. I'm confident he's smart enough not to care about that, but to be steadfastly hunting for the rare find of something he did not know or a fresh, different perspective that triggers profitable thoughts. I'm fortunate to know a lot of very rich entrepreneurs. I can't think of any who don't have piles of books they're always behind on while buying more, who aren't in constant pursuit of more information and ideas and inspiration.
The playwright Archibald Macleish observed that the only difference between a man and a pig is his mind. Both man and pig must feed their bellies – and do, often with disturbingly similar gusto. Only some men feed their minds as regularly, constantly, continuously and enthusiastically.
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