Reading Revolution

To me there is no better way to relax than to curl up with a good book. As a child I’d read anything – even a milk carton – I was that thrilled with my new found reading skills. I still think strong reading skills are important for a person to develop good analytical skills and personal empathy. But not everyone has the time and I suspect more people spend time reading their phones than reading a book.

I resisted having a kindle for a long time because I love the experience of reading a physical book, but the kindle has some advantages: I can carry a few hundred books in the space of one physical novel, there is a fair bit of free content out there (thank you Gutenberg), and I can read Dutch books with the help of a convenient online dictionary. The big downside for me is I can’t share or pass on books, yes Amazon makes it technically possible but most publishers don’t allow it. For a while it seemed that e-readers would spell the end of physical books but there seems to have been a turnaround, with the sales of ebooks dropping, as the sales of physical books rises.

I don’t think people are necessarily reading less, but they might be reading differently, here are some developments in reading formats.

Serial Box

An old idea repackaged for today’s technology. Episodes of a series are released each week and you can switch between reading text or listening to audio without losing your place in the story. Some content is existing books repackaged, but the Serial Box is heading into creating original content, the first episode is free to whet your appetite, and a few classic books are issued as a free series – I’ve started with The Woman in White as a trial. You can hear more on a recent¬†Recode Decode podcast.

Sleep Stories

If you’ve ever thought “just one more chapter” and then woken up at 2am with arm cramp and the light on this might be for you. Each Sleep Story is constructed with enough drama to keep you focused on the story but not so much that you’ll stay awake. The readers are chosen for their soothing voices, it’s a joy, even the three minute explanation on the site had me drifting off.

As a free alternative, try listening to a podcast in a language you don’t speak. I find Welsh very pleasing and restful.

Audio books

One advantage of reading is you can’t do anything else except read. If that sounds like a disadvantage for you then audiobooks are the answer. There are a range of services out there, mostly subscription based. I admit I don’t go in for audio books as I tend to loose focus and have to replay whole chapters. I have the same problem with podcasts longer than 30 minutes. But a friend who does really long travel, like 8 hours of driving, for her job finds them brilliant. In a way this is also an old idea upgraded with technology, books were serialised on the radio, this is just radio on demand.

Whatever technology we’re using, we still are looking for good stories.

Image via pixabay 

Who Am I? Myers Briggs


Myers Briggs is a common test used in leadership training courses and it divides all people into one of sixteen groups based on their scores on 4 dimensions. There’s some controversy around it because it’s relatively easy to skew the results deliberately and the test doesn’t stand up to scientific examination. However, answered honestly, it seems to be fairly accurate.

Picture 13The dimensions are;

  • Introvert – Extrovert
  • Sensing – iNtuition
  • Thinking – Feeling
  • Judging – Perceiving

The combination of these four dimensions gives a grid of 16 possible profiles.

what is it

  • Introvert – Extrovert
    Extroverts favour action and introverts favour reflection in how they approach the world.
  • Sensing – iNtuition
    This dimension refers to how people collect information, “sensing” is a preference for collecting tangible factual information, “intuition” is a preference for getting an overview or a big picture
  • Thinking – Feeling
    If you make decisions based on assembling rational facts, you’ll score higher on thinking, if you use the impact on people as your decision making tool you’ll score higher on thinking.
  • Judging – Perceiving
    This dimension looks at how structured and defined you like your life, those wanting structure score higher on the ‘J’ scale, those who seek more flexibility and are more adaptable will score higher on Perceiving.

I’ve had some interesting discussions with people over the years who see this as unscientific and have a problem with putting people into boxes. There’s a lot of room within each box, and if you do the in depth analysis the test gets even more revealing. I’ve found it a useful tool for understanding myself, my strengths and my limitations.

For example; I score high on extroversion, if we’re in a group discussion I’ll throw in ideas right away. My introverted classmates on one leadership course explained to me that introverts can find this intimidating; they’re still reflecting on the question and they feel that my early suggestions might be more information to reflect on so they never get to their own ideas. I did explain that to me those ideas are an “opening bid” and I’m perfectly happy for them to be improved, dismissed, destroyed.

The invaluable mantra a classmate gave me was “save it to draft”, so now I note the idea down for myself and wait, encouraging the introverts to speak when they’re ready.

One other attitude that I’ve come across is the expectation that you will improve, but that implies that there is a ideal profile within Myers Briggs and the concept and tool do not contain such a judgement. There has been some research done looking at what profiles are common among successful people in certain roles, but it is not a prescriptive tool. It is more a tool for understanding how you work and how you might interact with others of different profiles.

As a personal learning tool Myers Briggs has been very useful and positive for me.