Power Up Your Reading and Retention Today!

We have all heard the quote by Harry S. Truman “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” I enjoy reading, and often turn off the tv to curl up with a good book in the evening before bed, or read in the early morning while my family sleeps.

But one of my nagging frustrations is that I don’t retain as much as I should. I underline, make notes in the margins or ponder a really provocative idea, only to forget it the next day (or later that hour!). I have come to realize that I remember best what I have repeated. Let me explain.

When I read about a certain idea or concept I must cement it into my memory by talking it out with another person. The act of sharing what I have learned verbally is the rough equivalent of sticking that idea to the walls of my mind with crazy glue. And thankfully, I have a group of guys that I meet with weekly who act as a sounding board for each other as we forge through new material that will help us personally, professionally and spiritually.

For over two years the Burly Boys Book Club has met on Wednesday mornings to talk about a book we have been reading (or listening to on audiobook). We wake up to espresso and then challenge one another by discussing the concepts of a book like “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. In that book we were challenged that we cannot have multiple “priorities,” as a priority by definition is ‘one thing.’ So McKeown challenged us to get the ‘right things’ accomplished by pursuing what is essential in our lives (this is a process in itself-get the book, it’s worth it!). This was the catalyst for a lot of deep and meaningful dialogue between the five of us. And we took it to the next level by periodically asking one another how we are doing in the disciplined pursuit of less.


If you want to raise your level of learning and retention, blast a few texts or emails to some friends. Choose a time, place and a book that everyone can agree on. Then dig in together and grow.

Leaders are readers. But leaders who remember what they read are much more effective.