If You Spend 30 Minutes a Day Just Doing This…

legitimate expertEarl Nightingale researched and taught about success for decades, and he took his job seriously. His work is often forgotten now, but if you can find it, it is definitely worth your time. It was very helpful to me.

One of Earl’s more interesting lessons was this:

If you spend 30 minutes – every day – learning about one specific subject, you’ll become a legitimate expert in six months.

This is true. And I know it’s true because I took Earl’s advice and became an expert.

Perhaps it will take longer than six months for a difficult subject, but 30 minutes per day – if you actually use the time for serious study every day – is a LOT of focused time.

How to Do It

This is far easier than you might think, as long as you can make hard decisions and run your own life… and refuse to live by the expectations of others.

That means that you have to be able to say “no.” That means that you can accept the fact that others will be disappointed in you. You must be able to do what you think is right, regardless of their repeated objections.

When I first did this, it involved NOT having lunch with the people I worked with. I went off on my own and read while eating. Some of my colleagues thought I was being rude or weird, but I did it anyway.

Then, when my co-workers went out after work, I went home. I smiled, explained that I didn’t like drinking and that I had too much to do at home. And then I went home and read. They shook their heads but soon stopped asking.

So, when the other guys go out to lunch, sit by yourself and read. When they go out after work, go home and study. If friends or family don’t like it, do it anyway. Be different. Assure them that there is no insult intended, but take whatever heat is required and do what’s best for you.

You probably won’t lose many friends over this, but if you do, so be it. Any friend who requires that you not change and grow is not a friend you need to keep.

How to Read

Here are a few tips:

Go for quality, not quantity. Forget about reading a certain number of pages per day. That’s a mistake. Make sure that you understand what you read – that’s the only thing that matters.

Don’t just go through the motions. Stop and back up whenever you must. If you don’t understand something, circle it and look it up at your first opportunity. Don’t leave anything out; if you do, you’re subverting your future learning. Fill in the gaps as you go, not later.

You must understand WHY things work as they do. It is not enough to understand HOW they work. You must know why… you must know what interacts with the things you study and makes them act as they do. Once you understand that, you’ll start becoming a real expert.

Always keep paper and a pen next to your book. Write down things you need to check. Write down other ideas that come up while reading. Write down ideas for using the things you are reading about.

Once you finish a book (or magazine or whatever), review your notes and put everything of value into a file. (I suggest you use your computer for this.)

And If You Do…

… you’ll become a legitimate expert at whatever you study. Special talents are not required for any of this. Genius is not required. You must first make your decision, then act and stay with it under pressure.

Or, in the words of Calvin Coolidge:

Press on.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.

Talent will not; nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is a proverb.

Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Make good choices, hold to them regardless of pressure, and press on.

Paul Rosenberg

11 thoughts on “If You Spend 30 Minutes a Day Just Doing This…”

  1. During many, many years I got a lot of great information from Earl Nightingale.
    This information which you include is among his best advice.

    1. We dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig in a mine the whole day through.
      We dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, it’s what we like to do.
      It ain’t no trick to get rich quick, if you dig, dig, dig,
      with a shovel and a pick, in a mine, in a mine,
      where a million diamonds shine.
      Hi-ho, hi-ho,
      It’s off to work we go.

      Repeat as necessary.

      1. Hard work always pays. But, you must have some idea where to dig, and what to do with the product of your digging.

        The reason for the extreme success of certain minority groups is 1- hard work, and 2- tight net family and friends that provide support, and more importantly influence peddling.

        The clearest example is hollywood! The consistency of certain minority group great accomplishments one generation after the other cannot be considered GENETIC, or ACCIDENTAL?

  2. Earl Nightingale has long been a favorite source of practical wisdom in my adult life. I applied what he said about study to my professional life about 30 years ago, and am glad I did. Like Paul said in his article, I did lose some friends, and created distance from some family members who wanted me to “remember my place”. Screw that! Life is for living, and for pursing one’s dreams and opportunities. Thanks Mr. Nightingale for your advice. It changed my life.

  3. Other than the parachute books I have read, do you have any advise on how to choose the subject to become an expert in?
    Sometimes I think if a masterdoctor were to diagnose me, he would say my career/expertise selector knob is broken. Just born that way.

    1. Study what you love. For me, it was economics. Not the stuffy math-models, glasses-at-the-tip-of-the-nose dismal science, but actual, real economics. The study of the actions individuals take in allocating scarce resources in order to meet current needs and better their situation in life.

      Economics is everything. It seeks to understand every action, every inaction, every trade, every word, every thought.

      Find your economics.

      1. Spot on!

        I am getting a Ph.D. in the humanitites -so far away from real life economics! However, 2 months ago I started reading Rothbard’s work on the state and economics (Anatomy of the State, For a New Liberty) and I have learned way, way more over those 2 months than I did in several years at school.
        I recommend anyone interested in the subject to look for Rothbard’s work and other works from the Mises Institute on iTunes University. That place is a wonderful cornucopia of never-ending knowledge.

        1. I read The Ethics of Liberty by Murray Rothbard. Although not specifically an econ book, it is a useful read. Not to lengthy either.

    2. Joch, the “What Color is your Parachute” series of books is a great place to start. I bought my first one in 1977, and have bought a new edition every time I came to a crossroads in my career. Reading those books is not enough—you have to do the exercises. It is amazing what you will find out about yourself from the work you put into the exercises.
      Another book worth reading is Strengthfinder 2.0. It’s a short read, but includes an online test that will help identify your strengths, and suggest how to use them.
      Good luck.

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