So there’s this website for online courses called Udemy (yes, I am giving them free advertising). Periodically they send me coupons to take their courses at a discounted rate, and since I still want to learn about almost everything, I do it when I can find the time.
Last week I didn’t really “have the time” per se, but I took a course anyway, because it would save me time in the long run: I learned how to speed read! (Seemed like a valid investment, since I have a stack of something like 20 books to read, and I keep buying more on almost a weekly basis.)
My virtual instructor, as it turns out, is dyslexic. I wouldn’t have thought this would make him a great reading instructor, but apparently it was the dyslexia that forced him to adopt this approach in the first place. A few weeks ago, I was listening to “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell, and he also mentioned that a staggering number of CEOs of major corporations and highly successful people are dyslexic—a very disproportionate number to the actual percentage of dyslexics in the population. His explanation? Dyslexics have to struggle hard just to do what comes naturally to the rest of us. As a result, they are forced to learn creative ways to accomplish basic tasks, and this makes them especially equipped to innovate and lead. I also found out last week that one of my favorite patients is dyslexic, and she told me that she, too, attributes a great deal of her drive and success to what the rest of the world would call a handicap.
It never occurred to me before that this might be the case. Funny how once an idea makes my radar, I start to see it all over the place after that. My instructor would say this is because my reticular activating system for the subject of successful dyslexics has been activated. The information was there all along; I’m just tuning in to it for the first time. Whatever you pay attention to suddenly shows up everywhere, have you noticed that?
Anyway, it’s possible I might be a colossal nerd now: I have a metronome timer app on my smart phone that keeps pace for how quickly I should read each line, and I follow the line in rhythm with my finger or the back end of my highlighter. On a bike in the gym. Wearing headphones, of course, because otherwise that would be super annoying.
I don’t do this with fiction books, because my purpose for reading those is not to consume information as voraciously as possible—those I just want to enjoy. But man, I wish I’d discovered speed reading in med school!