I Read to Cheat Old Age – What About You?

It’s the last week of 2015, and at 27gen that means #ReadingWeek!

All week my posts will be about books, reading, a few things connected to the two, plus my Top 15 Favorite books, an annual list published on the last day of the year.

To start the week off, consider this: I read to cheat old age.

It is my habit to make my lunch hour my own personal “Lunch and Learn” activity. As I work from an office in my home, I typically take a break from work to enjoy lunch seated at my kitchen counter, reading a book.

So it’s appropriate that, while reading Curious, by Ian Leslie, I came across this information:

Being epistemically curious is a crucial condition of feeling fulfilled and alive.

Science supports this intuition. Neurologists use the term “cognitive reserve” to describe the brain’s capacity to resist the ravages of old age. For a study published in 2013, a team led by Robert Wilson at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago enrolled three hundred elderly people and tested their thinking and memory skills each year. The participants were also asked about how often they read, wrote, and engaged in other cognitively demanding activity, not just currently, but in childhood and middle age.

Following each participant’s death, his or her brain was examined for evidence of dementia. It was discovered that, after taking into account the physical effects of dementia on their brains, the subjects who made a lifelong habit of a lot of reading and writing slowed their rate of mental decline by a third compared to those who only did an average amount of those things.

In other words, those individuals cheated old age.

 – Ian Leslie, Curious

My lifelong, and ongoing, investment in reading is really an investment in my future.

courtesy photosteve101

courtesy photosteve101

What will you be reading today?


Don’t Let a Steep Learning Curve Become a Cliff

A learning curve is a graphical representation of the increase of learning (vertical axis) with experience (horizontal axis).


When we encounter a “steep learning curve” we face an uphill struggle to learn new ideas, practices, systems, etc. The goal is survival and ultimately, to be at a better place at some point in the future.

You know – the best in the world.

Anyone who is going to hire you, buy from you, recommend you, vote for you, or do what you want them to do is going to wonder if you’re the best choice. –Seth Godin

If you’re not going to put in the best effort, why bother?

Your learning curve should always be up and to the right – if it’s not, you’ve come to the edge of a cliff…


…now what?

The Gospel Project

As a lifelong learner, one of the most exciting developments announced at the SBC this week was The Gospel Project, LifeWay’s first new Bible study series for adults, students, and children in more than 10 years.

The Gospel Project (TGP) is a three-year, in-depth study that launches this fall. Over 12,000 churches have already participated in a pilot project this spring, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

TGP draws its focus from The Baptist Faith and Message, where the last sentence of the Scripture section states: “All Scripture is a testimony to Christ who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.”

Trevin Wax, managing editor of TGP said “The main emphasis is Jesus Christ, who He is, and what He has done for us. It’s centered on how all of the Bible tells us this one over-arching story of redemption about what God has done to save us through the work of Jesus Christ.”

For more information about The Gospel Project, go to GospelProject.com.

To see the video announcing The Gospel Project, click here.

The Airplane Effect (Explained)

I don’t fly a lot – maybe 4 or 5 times a year. But over the last couple of years, I have been curious about something – flying seems to accelerate my brain.

 Most of my flight involves the eastern half of the US; though occasionally I head west. My typical pattern is to buy a magazine that I would not normally read at the airport while I am waiting to board. Once on the flight, I will read the magazine from cover to cover, including ads. I highlight stories, phrases, and photos – anything that catches my eye and categorize them for later use. I find that the difference in environment stimulates thinking patterns. It also forces me to focus, as there are relatively few distractions on the flight.

Oftentimes, a single phrase, sentence, or photo will form the genesis of a blog post, magazine article, or presentation for a client. Take this illustration from yesterday’s post: a Swiss Army Knife combined with a 2 GB flash drive.

When I saw this item in a magazine, my first thought was – this is really cool! Then, in a stream of consciousness, the following thoughts occurred:

  • The use of a Swiss Army knife (scissors) in the most recent Pink Panther movies
  • The time when my youngest son cut the tip of his thumb nearly off with a Swiss Army knife (that he “borrowed” from his older brother)
  • Dealing with that crisis while simultaneously dealing with my daughter’s broken wrist, which happened 5 minutes before
  • Trying to explain both of these to the ER personnel while avoiding being reported to Family Services
  • The ubiquitous Swiss Army brand and how it is used (my brief case, for example)
  • How did the Swiss Army brand originate?
  • Can you take this item through TSA at the airport?
  • Do we have Swiss Army items in the church?

So, in about 15 seconds thought, I surmised that it was a great idea but maybe not practical for an airline traveler.

That last thought about Swiss Army items in the church was just – weird. But it made me ponder that those two items can’t possibly go together.

Which puts it in the category of a meatball sundae.

Which is for tomorrow’s post.


The Airplane Effect

Yesterday during a flight to Arlington, TX, I finally put my finger on something that had been bugging me: flights  really turn my brain loose. I read parts of three different books (love that Kindle!); took an innovation quiz that measures my innovation aptitude; and completed some editing on a writing project I’m working on.

On a 2 1/2 hour flight.

What’s up? I will be posting more on this topic, but here’s a visual to get you started:

Where does this take your thought process?

Beaches Aren’t the Only Place for Summer Reading

It’s July – the middle of the summer. Many people are heading out on vacation – to the beach, to the mountains, to a family gathering. I hope your vacation is a safe, relaxing time for you and your family.

Oh, and by the way, take a book – or two.

Summer is a great time for reading – even if you’re not on vacation. Admittedly, I’m biased. I’m a voracious reader – to the tune of 3-5 books per week. For me, reading is a discipline – but it’s also a gift.

You should be a reader, too, because leaders are readers. To explore that thought, click here. Need some recommendations? Here are my favorite books from the past couple of years:

2009    2010

And if you’re really curious, follow this link to my Leader’s Library – a Google Books listing of my library, including books I own, books I’ve checked out of the library this year, books I’m reading now, and books I’m looking forward to reading. Look for an interesting book title – and “check it out” at your local library.

Want to know more about reading, or any of the books mentioned above or in my library? Leave a comment or email me!

So – what are you reading this summer?

What I’m Re-Learning from a 9 Month Old…

I’ve made an astounding discovery: If you want a definition of curiosity and exploration, just watch a 9 month old discovering her surroundings.

A little backstory: while my son is going through basic training in the Air Force, our daughter-in-law and 9 month old granddaughter are living with my wife and me. It’s been a long time since we’ve had an infant in the house – over 18 years, in fact. Even with four children, I forgot how fascinating babies are – they are learning machines.

Babies are born with a deep desire to understand the world around them and an incessant curiosity that compels them to aggressively explore it. Even though she hasn’t yet begun to crawl more than a few feet at a time, my granddaughter is constantly in motion when she is on the floor – looking at objects, responding to sounds, grabbing things, and putting most of them in her mouth (GrandBob disclaimer: I only let her put Mom-approved objects in her mouth).

Babies younger than a year old will systematically analyze an object with every sensory weapon at their disposal. They will feel it, kick it (we have a budding soccer star on our hands), stick it in their mouth, stick it in their ear, and even give it to you to stick it in your mouth. I proved the last item at a cookout last night: after mauling my name tag, my granddaughter insisted that I put it in my mouth – which, of course, I promptly did.

Babies methodically do experiments on the objects in their universe to see what else they will do. We are natural explorers, and the tendency is so strong that it is capable of turning us into lifelong learners.

Music to my ears!

Our brains are not wired to outgrow the thirst for knowledge, but sadly, most of the time we are “educated” out of this natural curiosity. How sad.

As John Medina, author of the absolutely fantastic books “Brain Rules” and “Brain Rules for Baby” states:

The greatest Brain Rule of all is something I cannot prove or characterize, but I believe in with all my heart. As babies try to tell us and show us, it is the importance of curiosity.

What will you be curious about today?

For a few prior posts taking a look at specific topics from Medina’s book, click on these links:

Brain Power


Short-Term Memory



Also check out his books:

Brain Rules

Brain Rules for Baby