Book Summary

Limitless By JIM QUICK

When Jim Quick was 9 years old, he was struggling to understand a simple concept and his teacher pointed at him and said, “That’s the boy with the broken brain.” Quick believed her. Years earlier he hit his head and suffered a brain injury and as a result he found it hard to memorize basic facts and it took him 3 years longer to read than his peers but today, Quick can recall the names of 50 or more people in an audience that he’s just met and he can recite a string of a hundred random numbers forward and back well onstage.

Quick has gone from never reading a book until the age of 16 to reading a book every week for the last 30 years. At the heart of Quick’s mental transformation is a simple truth: we all have the capacity to mold our brains and constantly improve our mental abilities. If you’re struggling to learn it’s not due to an innate brain limitation. It’s either due to a limiting mindset, limited motivation or a lousy learning method.

Quick shows you how the right mindset, motivation and method can improve a mental ability that most people assume is limited; that’s reading speed. If you’re like me you’ve always wanted to read faster but no matter how hard you try your reading speed and comprehension seem to be capped.

After reading limitless and adopting the following mindset, motivation and methods, my reading speed has doubled. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” If you insist you can’t read fast, you’re all but guaranteed to never improve your reading speed. Jim Quick says, “When you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them. The key to improving any mental ability is to suspend any limiting beliefs and temporarily act as though your mental abilities are limitless. By merely entertaining the idea that your reading speed potential is limitless, you can noticeably increase your reading speed.”

To prove this try the following ten-minute exercise called the 4-3-2-1 method. Set a timer for 4 minutes, open an easy-to-read book and start reading at a comfortable pace while using your finger to underline the words as you read them. When the 4 minute timer expires, mark the point at which you stopped now go back where you started and set a timer for three minutes and try to get to that same point you reached after 4 minutes. Don’t worry if your comprehension isn’t perfect. just make sure you underline and see every word. When the 3-minute timer expires do the same for 2 minutes then 1 minute.

After this 4- 3- 2- 1 exercise, resume reading the rest of the book at a comfortable speed for 4 minutes. If you compare the number of lines you read now to the number of lines you read in the first four minutes of the exercise you will be pleasantly surprised by how much faster you can read. By merely pretending you can read faster during the 3 to 1 portion of the exercise, you’ve upgraded your reading speed.

Now that you have the mindset that you can read faster than you thought you could, let’s focus on motivation. What book would you get through quicker and learn more from; a book you’re forced to read in English class or a book recommended by your mentor; someone you greatly admire who tells you that this book contains the secret that transformed my life. After hearing that statement it’s hard not to wonder what’s the secret is. If you pick up a book in a peak state of curiosity, wonder and excitement, you are bound to learn quicker and retain more.

Jim Quick says, “All learning is state dependent. A good reason why you may not have learned much in school is because you found school boring.” Before you start reading anything, put yourself in a peak state of curiosity by asking the following three questions:

  1. What great insight will I get from this book?
  2. How will this insight forever change my life?
  3. When will I get to use this insight?

I like to assume that every book I read contains a profound insight and I also like to imagine that someone else has just paid 10 million dollars for the information I’m about to read. With that mental framing, I’m extremely curious to absorb the information I’m about to read.

After you’ve generated ample motivation to read a book by putting yourself in a state of pique curiosity, wonder and excitement, it’s time to upgrade your reading methods. Quick asks, “when was the last time you took a class called reading?” For most, it was you were about 7 or 8 years old; and if you’re like most people, your reading skill is probably still the same as it was back then.

If you haven’t actively changed your reading habits since elementary school there are three reading habits that are limiting your reading speed. These three habits are regression, sub vocalization and word by word reading.

Regression is the tendency for your eyes to go back and reread certain words in a sentence. Jim Quick says, “Almost everyone does it to some degree and most of the time it’s done subconsciously.” To solve the problem of regression, you need to use a pacer. Attention follows movement so if you use your finger to guide your reading by underlining the text as you read it, you prevent your attention from jumping around the text.

Many people have low reading comprehension because reading is too slow and boring for them but if you move your finger at a pace that’s just on the edge of your perceived max reading speed, you will require your full attention to comprehend what you’re reading. More attention equals more retention. Use a finger as a pacer when reading a physical book, use your finger as a pacer when reading on your phone by sliding it down the side of the phone and use your mouse as a pacer when reading content on your computer.

Bad reading habit number two: sub vocalization. Sub vocalization is the habit of saying the words to yourself in your head as you read. When you feel the need to sound out every word as you read, your reading speed is limited by how fast you can talk. You can get your inner narrator to talk fast and sound out 200 to 250 words per minute which happens to be the average reading speed but there is no need to hear the words in your head as you read them.

You’ve seen 99% of the words you’ve read before and you have mental images for most of them. If you can bring to mind the image a word represents, instead of sounding out that word, you’ll become a much more efficient reader.

To break your sub vocalization habit and turn reading into a purely visual experience and thus   dramatically improve your reading speed, quietly count out loud as you read. It’s hard for your mind to sound out words and speak out numbers at the same time, so when you start reading count 1 2 3 4 you’ll free your mind of the interne aerator and train your mind to see the words on the page as images and turn what you’re reading into a motion picture experience.

Bad reading habit number 3: word by word reading. When you first learn how to read, you trained your eyes to look at one word at a time but now you’re familiar with most words, so there’s no reason not to look at chunks of words like three, four or five words at a single glance.

This technique actually works in conjunction with the last technique because it’s easier for your mind’s eye to generate imagery for groups of words rather than a single word.  By setting aside 20 minutes for the next two weeks you can build your speed reading muscle each day. Forget what you believe your limitations are and pretend for 20 minutes that your potential reading speed is limitless then grab a book you’ve been wanting to read and take one minute to ask yourself questions about the book; like what great insight will I get from this book? And how will this insight change my life?

The goal is to put yourself in a peak state of curiosity so that you’re motivated to learn what you read. Then use the next 10 minutes to warm up your speed reading muscle with the 4- 3- 2- 1 method then  focus on each of the following methods for 3 minutes each.

First use a pacer to prevent regression. As you read move the pace you’re at a speed that requires full attention. Next, count out loud as you read to stop yourself from sub vocalizing the text and lastly relax your eyes and expand your peripheral vision to try and take in more than one word at a time.

When you start using these three methods pacing, counting and expanding, you’ll feel a little awkward but if you continue using them you’ll start to see your speed and reading comprehension improve dramatically.

If You enjoyed this reading, check out our other book summaries.

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