Why I Stopped Reading Books

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After graduating from university, my only teachers became books.

If it was entrepreneurship, I learned from Richard Branson, Felix Dennis and Blake Mycoskie.

If it was writing, I learned from William Zinsser, Anne Lamott, and Roxane Gay.

If it was biographies, I learned from David McCullough, Ron Chernow and Walter Isaacson.

The list goes on.

For a decade I didn’t stop. I was a sponge. I highlighted, took notes, and saved them in countless, tidily organized Google Docs.

I wanted to soak in wisdom from the masters.

But around the time Covid hit, I burnt out from reading.

For the first time, I had endless hours to myself, but I couldn’t find the motivation to sift through more pages. I had piles of books on my shelf that were waiting to be devoured but I felt paralyzed.

And then it hit me.

Of course.

Books can change your life, but they can’t replace a teacher.

A teacher is specific to you. They know you personally. They point out where you thrive and where you need work. They correct you, make you see what you can’t and turn your weaknesses into strengths.

It’s why schools aren’t libraries. It’s why growing up, you have the same teacher the whole year. They get to know you and adjust to your needs.

I hadn’t had a teacher in ten years, so I asked my friends for theirs.

I had saved up enough money by this point and I went all in.

I hired Aaron, Will Smith’s trainer, to be my personal trainer and business coach. Every day, we got together and lifted for 50 minutes, then studied the in’s and out’s of what makes companies great for another hour. Every. Single. Day. In the process I gained 20 pounds of muscle and got my own version of an MBA.

I hired Jim, a breathwork master and spiritual guide. Jim is like the 70-year-old white male version of Yoda. He’s the wisest man I know. Once a week, we sat together for two hours to do breathwork and work through life’s most pressing problems. My meditation practice has become locked in because of him.

I hired Azul, a writing coach. Azul took what were three mediocre book drafts I had written and guided me patiently towards this fourth draft which is the right one. Because of him, I feel like I’ve finally got the hang of this book writing thing.

Reading books gets you from 0 to 1. Working with coaches gets you from 1 to 10.

Books are the seeds. Coaches are the sun and water.

The combination creates miracles.

So when the time is right, when you have the budget for it and when you know what skills you want to hone, invest in learning from the people who have gone to where you want to go.

Love,

Matt


Song I’m Jamming To: Pass It Along by Chumbawamba

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