If you ever have the dubious pleasure of riding shotgun in my car, upon starting the car, you probably had the opportunity to hear a buzzing sound, not unlike that of a bee flying around. Upon closer listening, you may start to pick out words here and there until you finally realize you’re actually listening to someone speaking. A few moments more pass before you realize you’re actually listening to a book speeding through in x2.7 of talking speed.
Yes, my biggest secret weapon is that I listen to audiobooks – a lot. What a gift audible bestowed on us.
When listening to audiobooks I sometimes feel like I’m in the scene in the Matrix where you plug your mind into a machine and after a few moments “I know Kung-Fu”.
While I probably won’t learn Kung Fu from books, I do like to use them for three purposes – professional development, inspiration, and expanding my horizons.
My bread and butter listening is professional – learning about business, sales and a CEO’s day-to-day. (hey, I somehow have to learn to do my job)
I love reading books written by CEOs and business leaders. I don’t necessarily take every advice word-for-word, but I love learning about new ideas, new concepts and the framework by which they manage. It may be surprising, but when listening to such books, my mind is emptied of the day-to-day problems and instead, I start to get filled with new ideas. These ideas could range from new sales development techniques to training and discussion management.
From time to time, I like to shift gears towards listening to books about great people, and sometimes books written by great people. I recently listened to Thoughts and Adventures (which inspired this post) by Churchill and Marcus Aurelius’ meditations. I am awe-struck when listening to books that were written anywhere from decades to millennia ago. The thought processes of these giants, inspire me. They help me remain strong and sharpen my moral compass. To help me find purpose and remember what the reason is for which I do what I do. For example, in Churchill’s writings, I learned about steadfastness and persistence against what seems like overwhelming odds. This helped me stay on course during the seed investment process, where you get a 100 no’s before you get the first yes.
Lastly, I adore ‘The Great Courses’. They created entire audio courses about any subject in the world. From psychology to philosophy to political thought. These help me see the big picture of my life and expand my own horizons.
Looking back at my history with audiobooks, it just started a few years ago (see graph below), I believe 2014 was the year where my real passion for them started. The key, I found, is to make sure it’s accessible. I always have my headphones handy, and whenever I have idle time – from working out, to cooking to driving, I plug into the magical world of great minds.
I’ll finish with this parting thought. I love the fact that I can increase my listening speed with this. For me, being able to consume information 2.7x faster is just a delight. Yes, I feel it does harm my comprehension somewhat, as when I hear interesting ideas I tend to daydream and lose out on some of the information. However, the fact that I can cover the same book 3 times if I want (which I did for some books), at the same time I can cover at a normal speed, is truly powerful. I love exerting myself and reaching a new peak of speed. To increase your speed – the trick is simple. You just have to continuously, from time to time, just push the speed up in .55x, if you hear 2x, what’s the big deal with hearing 2.05x? But if you remember to do this diligently, and keep pushing yourself, you can definitely reach the upper part.
If you look at the graph, what made me really pick up speed is not just having more listening time, but also, my ability to pick up the pace.
Also, I do have to say, while I’m not the fastest listener yet, I do somewhat enjoy showing off my listening skills at parties (by far the dullest party-trick one can pull off).
In short order, this is my gift. My secret weapon. My superpower. And it is now open to you as well. Use it wisely.
Leaning my head down to look at the speed dial on audible, I wonder, should I go up to 2.8x?