Reading, Not Comprehending. Comprehending, Not Executing.

Most who know me know that my oldest son Jackson has autism. Of the challenges that affect him most, he has his greatest difficulties with communication and, to a certain degree, reading.

While Jax has continued to show improvements in what he is able to read, a further challenge has been his ability to comprehend and retain what he reads. Recent evaluations in his school have shown that even though he is equivalent to a fifth grader in age, his reading and comprehension skills are somewhere between a second and third grader.

I have always applauded Jackson’s mom for being able to push against those in the school to make sure that he is getting the appropriate attention and focus he needs. It is our hope that he can make the best strides he can in efforts to eventually transition him into a school with more neuro-typical children (albeit with a full-time aide to assist him.)

This new evaluation brought things to light for both she and I highlighting where his struggles continue to affect him. The reality is that where we thought he could make the transition in line with 6th grade for next year, he will likely have to stay in his special needs school for yet another year to help bring his reading comprehension up to par.

I have always been a voracious reader. My grandmother (who was once a school teacher herself) got me started very early and I never lost my love for it. As both life and business have continued to get busier and more hectic, I still consume a great amount of books but I have had to transition to more audiobooks as opposed to physical ones.

Because I have developed more of an affinity for digesting a high volume of books, I do find that whether they be physical or audio, like Jackson, I struggle to comprehend a lot of what I read. I don’t remember a lot of details but I do try and pull value from everything I read whether the book be for the purposes of business or pleasure.

I’ve learned that my mind wanders a lot and I do get easily distracted. Perhaps a trained individual could compare elements of both my mind and Jackson’s and find some similarities. He is his father’s child after all.

But there is a fascinating parallel between all of this and much of what I see with clients too.

Beyond the ability to comprehend what we read, there’s a deeper issue of reading things that we do understand and not implementing them.

For me, I’ve learned (somewhat painfully) that despite a constant need and urge to improve how my business operates, I have to be mindful of how many business books I read. If I am not careful, I find myself in a situation where I have all of this input and I’m taking action on none of it. This then starts a cycle of reading more, thinking I’m going to find that “perfect” solution for the way to take my business from where it is to the next step, when I know (better than anyone) that there is no perfect step and that I just need to make a move, test it, and continue to experiment.

A similar thing happens with many of my clients. They listen to podcasts, they read books, they read articles, they join groups online, all so they can take in more and more information. One would think that with all of that quality information being digested (no pun intended) that these same clients would, in turn, see tremendous results.

But that’s rarely the case.

I believe they share the same challenge I stumbled on with all of my business books. Lots of information, lots of data, much of it valuable (much of it not), and little to no action to show they’ve implemented any of it.

For me, I had to start cleansing my palette a bit more. I read more fiction (to help me write better), I read more biographies about musicians (for entertainment), and I do still read books about food, psychology, exercise, etc. But I give myself more space between all of them. I find the more distance I put between myself and business books, the more I can focus on what matters…like my business.

To those of you reading who share a similarity with the clients I mentioned above, you may need to remove yourself from the deluge of dietary information you’re consuming. Not because it’s bad information but because you’re not doing what you set out to do with it.

For people like Jackson, the challenge is to not only read but excel at what’s being read. No parent ever wants to see their child fall behind. Rest assured, his mother and I will work to the best of our ability to help him.

For people like you and I, it’s not comprehension that plagues us. It’s taking what we read, applying it, and seeing good information manifest into good results.

Is there really any better outcome than that?

“We Make Great People Greater”

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