Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen
How to use book summaries to actually grow your career now so you ca get the most out of reading books!
There are many great Book summary services around. And many professionals or their companies subscribe to a few. I myself subscribe to readitfor.me and 12min.
But I’m not using the Book Summaries the way that most people use them. In talking to people, they’re reading summaries instead of reading books. My question to you is this, “Why would you outsource your thinking to anyone?”
You’re probably confused by now and thinking that I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth. Book summary services, especially the really good ones, do provide an important service. However, I think summaries should be a complement to reading books and not a replacement. Book summaries also let you decide if you should invest your time in reading a book.
Have you read?
5 Common Reading Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making
You’re probably wondering how to use book summaries to actually grow your career now.
In several articles, I’ve explained the process of how busy professionals can digest a nonfiction book in 30 to 60 minutes. But book summaries can play an important role in that process as well. I advise people to always inspect a book before they start reading it from cover-to-cover. However, one step I often take before that is to try to read a summary of the book first.
Why is that important?
Reading a summary first let’s you know what the book is about. More so than simply reading the book description. Descriptions are often written by copywriters. And their job is to sell books. I cannot tell you how many times I got upset because there was a disconnect between the book description and the content of a book.
When you read a book summary before reading the book, you also get the important sound bites if the summarizer has done a good job. The parts of the summary that align with your purpose for reading the book in the first place will pop out. Because you’re familiar with what the book is about, when you start to read the relevant sections, you have a place to hang the information in your brain.
If you’re new to reading my content, here’s the process to digest a nonfiction book in 30 to 60 minutes.
- In one sentence write down why you want to read the book. You had a reason for buying the book in the first place.
- If you subscribe to book summary services, search to see if they have a summary of the book you’re interested in reading.
- Read the book summary.
- If the book summary services didn’t summarize the book you’re interested in, go to Google, find a good summary of the book, and read it.
- Read the Foreword, Preface, Introduction, and Table of Contents of the book.
- Place a check mark beside the chapters and sections that you want to read.
- Quickly flip through the book to look at the images, diagrams, charts, and illustrations.
- Before you read the chapters and sections you flagged as important, write down what you’ve learned so far from inspecting the book.
- Now it’s time to read the chapters and sections of the book you marked as important.
- Remember to make notes as you read.
- Pick out the big ideas from your notes.
If you need help and would like a program that’s already set-up, Join the Performance Accelerator Plan Today, click the link to buy.
How to Use Book Summaries to Actually Grow Your Career Now
When you use book summaries as a complement to reading books that can make a difference in your life, you end up investing less time when reading any important nonfiction book. If that’s the case, you’ll find yourself reading more nonfiction books. You’re also using book summaries to screen the books you should actually read. And more importantly, you can devote time to read books that have the ideas necessary to pivot or even grow your career.
But to grow your career, you MUST take action. You have to apply the ideas, so that you can benefit from them. To take action though, you need to first identify the big ideas from the book summaries that you can later explore more deeply in the actual book. If you’re unsure of what’s a big idea, look for information that does the following.
- Solves problems.
- Helps people.
- Save, fix, and create things.
- Makes things better, cheaper, and more useful.
- Increases revenue.
- Saves time.
- Makes processes more efficient.
- Improves the company’s reputation.
- Prevents liabilities.
- Cuts costs.
Those kinds of ideas will definitely focus the spotlight on you and your career. Imagine what would happen in your career if you were able to apply good idea after good idea at your place of work. Influencers would take note of you. Even better for you is if you had a project that you could apply your new learnings from the books you read.
Example of How to Use Book Summaries to Actually Grow Your Career Now
I’m doing this example on the fly. I decided to go to readitfor.me to find a book summary I wanted to listen to. I thought I’d choose a summary with an intriguing description. Afterwards, I would decide if I wanted to get the book to read for myself. I was once on a short training course with Sarah Arrow, the creator of the 30-Day Blogging Challenge. She recommended that while listening to the book summary, do something else. And jot down information that strikes you as important.
I don’t multitask, but I thought this process made sense since by doing this, I wouldn’t be unduly influenced by what the summarizer thought was important. You have to give yourself the freedom to think for yourself – think your own thoughts about a subject.
At readitfor.me, I decided to listen to Upstream by Dan Heath. The book is about problem solving, which is one of the skills the World Economic Forum says you need to thrive in 2020 to 2022.
I wasn’t 100 percent focused on what the orator was saying. In the end, I decided that this book is one that I’d like to read for myself. I want to also add that the full title of the book is Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen. The subtitle gives you insight into what the book is about.
Here are the points that I thought were important.
It’s important to catch problems upstream so you find the root causes, which helps to make a dent in the problem solution. What are the true reasons for the problems? As I was listening to the Upstream book summary audio, I was reminded of the old adage,
“Prevention is better than cure.”
3 Barriers to Upstream Thinking
- Problem Blindness: Miss potential solutions because you want to stick with the status quo. Don’t accept the problem because it’s always been there.
- Lack of Ownership of Problem: Because no one owns the problem, it doesn’t get solved. Get someone to own the problem.
- Tunnel Vision: People often focus on the most tangible problems instead of the most important ones. Short-term focus is very reactive. You have to think like an upstream leader.
7 Questions for Upstream Leaders
- How will you ignite the right leaders? Use data for learning. And pull together the right people.
- How will you change the system? You need to change the system that’s causing the problem and introduce one that’s better designed.
- Where can you find the point of leverage? This is hard to do. You have to get closer to the problem. Dig deeper and not just look at the obvious.
- How will you get an early warning of the problem? You need to have sensors that can predict when the problem will occur. What are the triggers that alert you to the upcoming problem?
- How will you know if you’re succeeding? You need to have success indicators. Don’t allow people to game the system to give you a false sense of success.
- How can you avoid doing harm? Don’t let your solution create additional problems. Mitigate risks. Do a pre-mortem to anticipate problems.
- Who will pay for prevention? Will the person likely to benefit the most pay for prevention? Or will it be a situation where someone pays but doesn’t benefit?
Find a synopsis of Upstream by Dan Heath and many others from Readitforme that you can listen to. Click the link to join. This is a great way to learn the latest thinking on many topics.
After listening to the Upstream book summary audio, I know that the barriers to upstream thinking and the seven questions for upstream leaders are important information to note in the book. With this in mind, I’ll know what to focus on when reading the book. See how this works? For me though I often zero in on information that most people miss. That’s why it’s so important for me not to outsource my thinking to anyone.
Do you understand how to use book summaries to actually grow your career now?
How Avil Can Help You!
If you do not want to gamify your reading, I invite you to Join the Performance Accelerator Plan that walks you through the process of learning key skills and more. You’ll be reading books to build skills and develop intercultural awareness. Get more reading and learning tips here.
In December 2020, I published two books on Amazon. I would greatly appreciate your support if you bought my two short e-books Read 30 Books in 30 Days Like Francis Bacon and Performance Accelerator Plan: Guide to Learning and Mastering Key Skills for the Future.
Read 30 Books in 30 Days Like Francis Bacon is not about speed reading. It’s about approaching every book differently and reading only the sections that align with your purpose.
The Performance Accelerator Plan book is a stripped-down version of the paid reading challenge of the same name. Obviously, you won’t get all the resources that come with the program that I sell on my website. But if you are a self-directed learner, it will help you tremendously.
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