Do not hoard what you know

One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.
— Annie Dillard

Even if you are not a writer, this is such great advice. It applies to any kind of giving of your gifts.

This year, it was my goal to read at least 26 books. That is one book every two weeks. I actually reached that goal. There was a purpose to reading this many books. My intention was to process what I'd learned and then to share that with others. 

How many times have you read a book and then put it down after absorbing all that wonderful information or author's point of view, to never look at it again?

Do you do anything with what you learned from a book? 

Whether it was a fiction or non-fiction book, you may have finished reading it understanding something new, seeing the world from a different perspective that helped you to grow in a small way. 

Book reading groups are great because after you read a book, you discuss it with others. Talking about what you learned, sharing what others in the group didn't pick up on, and hearing from them insights that you had missed -- these are opportunities for growth. For learning.

What do you do with these lessons? Do you share them with a loved one? Do you incorporate them in your life?

I love the quote above from Annie Dillard, because she says that the "impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you." 

I agree. If you're keeping what you have learned inside without sharing, not only does it become lost to you, it also becomes lost to others. Remember, we learn best by teaching.

Many of the books I read lately are non-fiction, which offer an even greater opportunity for teaching. They are often books on spirituality, productivity, business growth, personal growth, or offer ways to do things such as writing, getting organized, yoga or meditation.

Some of the books I read did indeed become opportunities for me to share with others. I have written several blog posts based on things I learned from books. I do not do this religiously with each book I read, which is a significant failing on my part, especially as it was my intention this year to do so.

Below are a few suggestions for all of us, including me, to do better.

Eight ideas to take what you learned from a book and share it with others

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  1. You can use a book report style questionnaire (you can find these online if you search for "book report template" or "book review template") and fill in the information about the book. It answers questions about the plot or concept of the book, the characters and what they taught you, moments of challenge and how the author or characters worked through them, moments of great joy or bravery in a story that inspired you, and so forth.
  2. You can keep a book reading journal, like these which I purchased at a bookstore (pictured above). They are part log, part journal, so you can keep track of the books you read (or want to read). In mine, there are 2 pages per book, and space enough for about 50 book entries. It has questions to fill in on the details of the book and there is a place for writing a short review.
  3. After you have written your report, pick something you feel is a unversal truth that can be passed on to others. A universal truth is something all humans experience at a point in their life, such as loss, grief, happiness, pity, personal growth, wisdom, stupidity, and so forth. What is the greatest "take away" that you can share?
  4. Who would want to read this book? What kinds of people or which of your friends, family members, customers, or colleagues would find this book interesting? Write to them or talk with them and share the book.
  5. Write your own review on Amazon or Goodreads or other websites that share book reviews. 
  6. Journal about what you might do differently in your life based on what you learned from the book. What can you change right away? What might you want to keep on a "someday" or bucket list to do in the future? What change you will apply to your career, your relationships, your daily life?
  7. Write an article or blog post about what you learned and reference the book or books that inspired you. 
  8. Begin your own book reading club, whether online or in person. 

As we head into 2018, I am making my plans for the coming year. I will include not just reading another 26 books, but I will also make a conscious effort to take notes about what I learned from each book and then pass it along to others, whether through my blog, when coaching with clients, or during conversations I have in person. 

Sharing what I know, what I've learned, feels right. I don't want you to find ashes in my safe.

What will you do to share your knowledge in 2018?