Whatever it is I’m involved or interested in, I always like to see the big picture. That’s why I like books such as The World Is Flat and Guns, Germs, and Steel. They give me the big picture of the topics they cover (which are globalization and history, respectively). Seeing the big picture helps me understand the overall situation. That, in turn, gives me some benefits:
One of the things I want to do this year is to learn to read faster. I’m a slow reader, therefore, I can’t finish as many books as I’d like to. Many successful people, however, are fast readers. Warren Buffett once said that it’s a huge advantage to be able to read fast. I’m not going to give you detailed tips on it (Breakthrough Rapid Reading is a good book for that), but I’d like to give you one simple tip that I have found useful. It uses something called “no-stakes practice” that Tim Ferriss mentioned in an interview. In essence, it means that in order to be good at a technique, you should practice it in a pressure-free environment. For instance, if you want to learn how to shoot in basketball, you should practice it alone when there is no fear of embarrassment from other people. That way you can focus on your technique until it becomes good.
I recently read an article about NASA’s mission to visit Mars in The New Yorker. It tells the story of the Curiosity mission and the people behind it. It was a great read, but I especially like the closing paragraph. It’s about how the writer (Burkhard Bilger) went out with a NASA scientist named Grotzinger. They visited Death Valley in California, which has similar terrain to Mars. Here is the paragraph: