Nate Baker is currently a Praxis participant. This piece was originally posted on his blog.
I love reading books.
I rediscovered my love of self-education during the summer before I started college. For the first time, I was voluntarily reading works outside of the school environment. I read tons of nonfiction, mostly economics and philosophy. Then I started branching out into self-help and business genres.
These books are insightful, but I realized something was lacking. Everyone that I met at conferences had all read a lot. In fact, they read far more than they did anything. They talked a lot of talk, but walked very little walk. Every college entrepreneurship conference I attended was packed full of passionate kids, discussing the ideas of The Lean Startup, or Zero to One, but almost none of them had ever begun the process of launching any venture. When I reflected on those that I admired in my life, something struck me.
All of them had actually done something.
They were all intelligent, and yes they all read books regularly and possessed an extensive knowledge base on many topics by reading tons of books. This was not the fundamental source of what made them admirable.
They were doers.
They were individuals who moved forward and made something happen, usually despite some truly remarkable challenges. Books were not the reason they were high caliber, they read books because they were high caliber.
Let’s take the self-help genre. There is some really great, perhaps even life changing material in these works, but reading all the self-help books in the world will not even begin to make you successful. After you have read one or two of these, you begin to realize that the meat is the same, with only a few minor differences and small tips and tricks differentiating them.
I realized that I was avoiding becoming a better version of myself by wasting time reading about how to become a better version of myself. Ironically, most books in this genre are used by readers to procrastinate the process of self-development. Facing hard reality and actually taking meaningful steps towards personal growth is uncomfortable by its nature.
You already know what you need to do.
Come up with actionable goals and discipline yourself to do those things. This means close your Facebook and spend the next hour knocking them out.
If you think having a stable and reliable sleep schedule will make you more productive, go to sleep early and get out of bed when the alarm goes off. No manual necessary.
If you want to get in better shape, stop watching all of the YouTube videos trying to craft the perfect training program. It’s a procrastination tactic. Just pick any program and stick to it for a week before you start trying to tweak everything down to the minor detail.
If you have a business idea, make the product or service and sell it. Stop making a bunch of spreadsheets and planning out everything or it will never happen.
Books are great, but action is better.