The Forgetting Curve

A question I hear all of the time in business is this.  How do I get ahead in my career and grow within my company?  I talk to professionals everyday that have all of the credentials, education, the pedigree, and the persistence to be successful, so what is it that they are missing to get ahead?

The best career advice I got for you, is to READ a lot.  Yes, that is all.  Read a lot.  What should you read? Anything you can get your hands on.  Read biographies, read the books on your industry.  Read the books on the industry you would like to be in.  Bill Gates reads a book a week.  Peter Drucker picked one subject and would read everything he could on that subject until he felt like he was very knowledgeable on it. Anything from management to birds and plants. Benjamin Franklin read everything he could.

I have done a study.  Not a comprehensive study with focus groups and people in a room taking a survey, nope, my study has consisted of spending lots of time with people who train other people for a living and who are around people a lot in settings to help develop them.

Here is what I have found to be true with people who read a lot:

  • Influence is leadership, reading provides you increased influence.
  • They tend to be more positive about all situations.
  • They have lots of ideas backed up with evidence, instead of opinions based off of opinions.
  • They bring something to the table.
  • They become experts in their chosen field.
  • They are able lead up in their organizations because of their knowledge and skills.
  • The reading discipline usually leads to other disciplines in their life that help them in their career.
  • They add value to conversations at the water cooler.
  • They are more credible
  • They are more confident
  • They either grow within their company or they take their skills to another company.
  • Are they smarter? Yes, they have data to support their opinions.
  • They are more interesting
  • You cant give what you don’t have, period. (Biggest lesson in life) the good thing is you can go out and get anything you want (Isn’t America great)

Most people don’t read so you will see the benefits really quickly, I can promise you.  Remember this, the first mile is where it is crowded, the extra mile is where there are no crowds.

This morning I was reading a marketing book on Hot Buttons. I don’t think I have read anything that I haven’t heard before in some form.  However, I have at least one page of notes already.  That is what inspired me to write this blog today.

As I said, most of the stuff I have probably heard at one time or the other, but unless you use it and apply it everyday you forget it.  Hermann Ebbinghaus did extensive research on this topic in 1885 and is most famous for the FORGETTING CURVE.  His findings and research are still relevant today. A typical graph of the forgetting curve purports to show that humans tend to halve their memory of newly learned knowledge in a matter of days or weeks unless they consciously review the learned material.  This is kind of scary.  So why wouldn’t you continue to put information into your mind, especially the same information. 

To get ahead read as often as you can and share that information with as many people as you can.



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