Is Illiteracy becoming an acquired habit?

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I’m going to leverage a note I saw from my colleague and friend Anthony Iannarino in this post. Anthony reported that one of his readers unsubscribed from his newsletter because it was just too long. Are you ready? It was 642 words. I read that article slowly and timed myself. Two minutes and twenty-eight seconds. And I learned something by the way.

I worry about you and how your brain works. It’s my job. Anthony’s exchange has happened to me with some former readers as well. It gets me a bit fired up. Really, you can’t read 642 words? How busy is someone who can’t afford 2.5 minutes? It probably took longer to type the nasty note to Anthony.

We are increasingly creating sound bites. We’re training our brains to scan the surface and think less. A feature of the blog platform Medium is to estimate how long it will take you to read any article.

Let’s get as efficient as we can. Let’s take short cuts. All for it. The choice of ignorance though is concerning. That’s the choice that was really being made under the guise of eliminating a time waster.

Here’s the key: If you have selected a relevant topic, the writing is good, and you need the information…just read it. Don’t complain. Just read it.

If the topic isn’t what you thought it was. If the writing isn’t great. Don’t complain. Delete it. The mental act of complaining about it creates a neuro-pathway you can’t afford.

We worked with a fabulous intern. I asked her to research a topic area I’m very interested in. She emailed me a 200 page document. Would you be afraid of a 200 page document?

Even if it’s something that is very relevant right now and pretty interesting? Even before I open it and see that there is a ton of white space and the analysis will probably only take about 30 minutes?

Should I move this task around my to do list for weeks with all the accompanying angst? How much TIME would be wasted compared to the TIME it would take to just do the task?

I think sometimes we don’t actually hear what we ourselves say. From the Anthony example, “Your one and one quarter page document is too long for me to read.” I would be embarrassed. You probably would too. But we say these kind of things all the time.


Reading, learning, and analyzing takes practice and discipline. We need to exercise these muscles or they will atrophy just like our physical muscles.

With no training, how could we possibly run 26.2 miles?

With no training, how could we possibly work through a 200 page document and make strategic decisions about next step actions?

To do this week: Go one step further. If you normally only read the headline, read the whole article. If you normally only read the synopsis, read the whole report. How are you able to use this additional information?

Yay, you made it! 😉 504 words so far. Thank you so much for investing the time to be with me today.

Let me know how it’s goes. Click the “comments” box below to participate in an on-going discussion via LinkedIn.

Jim Canterucci

I don't know everything. But I want to. The focus of our firm, Transition Management Advisors, is to develop leadership capabilities to create a championship culture, generate innovation, and successfully lead the resulting changes.

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On October 27, 2017
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