“Just tell me what to do”: compressing knowledge into directives

Internalizing books

Wanting to be successful, I’ve always read every book I thought could help. Even if a book had just one useful insight, it was worth the $20 and my time spent reading and thinking.

A few years ago, I realized I was forgetting the lessons I’d learned from past books. So I started taking detailed notes while reading, saving every important idea. I wanted to permanently remember what I’d learned, and act on it.

“Just tell me what to do.”

When I’d tell my friends about a great book I’d just read, they didn’t want to read it. They didn’t want 300 pages of anecdotes, explanations, and supporting arguments. They’d say, “Just tell me what to do.”

I realized that for some things, I also don’t want the full 20-hour explanation. I’d be happier with just the conclusions — the actions — the directives.

Compressing wisdom into directives — (“Do this.”) — is so valuable, but so rarely done. It feels arrogant and imperial to tell people what to do. Who am I to order people around? On the other hand, who am I not to? It’s useful to people, so do it.

I’m humble. I don’t expect anyone to actually do what I say. It’s just a succinct and powerful way to communicate an idea. Focus on the action.

Just compressing all this wisdom into directives

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