Books allow you to explore the world that someone else has interpreted.
Books allow you to try on different worldviews to see situations in a new light.
Books present big, powerful, and time-tested ideas that can change the way you think. And by changing the way you think, you change the way you act, which determines the entirety of your future.
For the longest time, I would force myself to read entire books.
I’d never finish, of course, because they failed to hold my attention after some time.
I’ve grown busier over the years.
Business projects can be endless if I don’t say “no.”
I have fitness and self-actualization goals that demand a consistent chunk out of my days.
I’m dedicating more time to dating and relationships because I’ve put it off to build other areas of my life.
I understand the power of reading, but it’s an afterthought nowadays.
Sure, I can schedule 30 minutes here and there for a good book, but I’ve never seemed to sustain that habit. Which is sad because a reading habit keeps your mind flowing with ideas. It’s hard to remain stagnant when endless solutions are at the top of your mind.
In this letter I want to give you the process I’ve used to:
- Incorporate novel information into my day (to expand my mind and maintain the zest I have for life)
- Capture ideas that I can use to fuel my own writing, articulation, and understanding.
- Have it take less than 5 minutes each day so I can sustain my reading habit
Let’s dig in.
Set An Intention
Humans are goal-oriented creatures.
We interpret information, conversations, and happenings from our individual perspectives.
At the root of that perspective is a series of goals, problems, and beliefs surrounding those goals or problems.
For most, this perspective is mindless and firm.
That is, it was conditioned into their head by society and culture.
Most people are automatons with the goal of going to college, getting a job, and retiring at 65.
So, they perceive the world through that lens.
They only see what helps them achieve those goals.
Any information that does not align with their perspective goes unseen.
Meaning 99% of life itself goes unseen.
If you want to experience the depth and opportunity that lies beyond surface-level living:
- Set a meaningful goal for your future
- Remind yourself of that goal to hold it in the back of your mind
- Notice how you interpret life in a new light and your decisions begin to align with your goals
When you read a book you will begin to notice potential solutions to your problems, no matter the book topic.
Hunting For Ideas
Our ancestors would hunt for food and resources.
But we do not live in that world.
We don’t have to worry about the threats that they did, and our survival needs have transcended the physical plane of existence into the mental.
Instead, great and memorable humans hunt for ideas.
To “hunt” is to reap meaningful dopamine from the web of information that we have access to online and off.
You do not hunt in the known. You explore the unknown to make novel discoveries.
- Read the books that challenge you.
- Read the books that pique your curiosity.
- Read the books that you’ve been putting off reading.
The ones that have you place one foot in the unknown.
That way, the words pass through the middle of the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
The right hemisphere controls what you know while the left controls what is unknown.
When information passes through the “middle,” at the edge of your understanding, your nervous system signals to you that this is a meaningful event. A novel discovery in the making. A cosmic conflict reflected in your psyche that when resolved births creative emergence. In our case, a new idea, insight, or perception.
Certain books are so gripping because you are realizing the potential for your life. The ideas act as the raw material that you can use to sculpt the musical illustration that is your self-written story.
Creativity Is Playing With Mental Legos
You are forgetful.
We all are.
So, create a commonplace in a handy notebook or app in your phone.
You need a place to capture the ideas that stick out to you the most.
That’s the first step.
The second is to stop reading.
Seriously, once you find a novel idea put down the book.
You don’t read a book to remember every single word. You read a book to find a life-changing idea and implement it into your life.
Once you find and note the novel idea:
- Contemplate the utility of the idea. How does it relate to your life in more ways than one?
- Apply it to your goals. How can the idea aid in the improvement of your mind, body, or business?
- Attempt to turn it into your own. How can you rephrase the idea from your perspective?
If you don’t have an idea development system, you can download mine here in the form of a 7 day creative challenge.
In the meantime, here’s how you can attempt to turn it into your own idea:
Think about your goals.
Think about your current problems.
Think about your personal experiences.
Think about who you are and who you are becoming.
Then, frame the idea from your thoughts on any of the above.
I came across this fantastic idea the other day from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
Music is liquid architecture; architecture is frozen music.
If I contemplate my goals of writing and publishing a book, my reworded idea would be along the lines of:
Books are paper sculptures. Writing is the clay and articulation is the chisel.
I’m sure it could be better or expanded, but you’d be surprised how powerful this can get with the ideas you store with time.
It’s better to focus on one idea instead of being flooded by thousands. Go deep. Sit with it. Contemplate it. And avoid getting trapped in the mental masturbation cycle of hoarding surface-level ideas that have no practical application to your life.
Read for 5 minutes.
If an idea doesn’t grip you, choose a different book or skip to a different chapter.
The Law Of Use
Most people don’t need more advice.
They need more powerful ideas to shape their worldview and frame their decision-making.
That way they make better choices, figure it out for themselves, and reap the dopamine that comes from trial and error induced progress.
The problem is that to reach powerful ideas you have to expand your mind to the point of understanding them.
To understand, ideas must meet reality.
You have to put the ideas you’ve gathered to use and solidify them through direct experience.
Only then can you raise your level of mind to access the next stage of ideas.
Like bodybuilding but with mental capacity.
Progressive overload still applies.
Drowning yourself in surface-level “how to” advice is like lifting 5-pound dumbbells for the entirety of your life and expecting to build mental muscle.
To brush your ideas up against reality:
- Write or journal to dive into the depths of one idea
- Start with a common problem, steps or a story to overcome it, and the transformation that occurs from doing so (this is the structure of both human behavior, storytelling, and content marketing)
- Sit with the ideas that stem from your writing and refine them
My favorite way of incorporating this mental expansion process is, of course, to contribute to humanity through the creator economy.
Humans survive on a conceptual level, and this phenomenon is not limited to feeling threatened when someone challenges your beliefs.
We seek to reproduce through the transfer of ideas.
On the negative end, ideologues and zealots force their beliefs on you.
On the positive end, creators share their personal experiences and raise the collective well-being (and make a living doing so).
By writing long-form content, like a newsletter, you effectively:
- Deconstruct the idea you gathered on your hunt
- Reconnect the dots through original writing
- Deconstruct your own writing into a plethora of ideas
- Repeat the process and increase your mental capacity
In hyper-practical terms: write a newsletter or Twitter thread, break those down into tweets, and turn your tweets back into newsletters or threads.
That’s my content strategy in a nutshell.
I repurpose my newsletter, threads, and tweets to all platforms (and use my 2 Hour Writer system to do it).
Not only does it prevent your mind from clogging up and sticking on one menial problem, but you impact millions of people along the way.
You will know 1000 people in your life.
They will know 1000 in their lives.
1 billion people are 2 people that spread your ideas away from you.
Yes, the math on this is correct (even though I failed out of math).
1000 x 1000 = 1,000,000 people that each have access to 1000 people in their lifetime = 1,000,000,000
(I took this idea from Peterson btw).
Don’t underthink your potential impact.
Set an intention.
Hunt for ideas.
Play with mental legos.
Distribute your ideas.
– Dan Koe
P.S. When you’re ready:
There are free productivity tools, creativity challenges, and previous letters on my site.
You can also find a paid masterclass to productize yourself in the new economy, learn high-impact writing, and a community with 180+ strategies and courses to build your own thing.