Randall Payleitner


SCUBA Diving vs. Snorkeling

I generally eat lunch at my desk. It’s a nice break in the day to read some news, catch up on a few of the blogs I follow, or maybe read a magazine article or two. It’s not long, maybe twenty minutes. My PBJ sandwich or chicken salad takes priority over my light reading.

This is an opportunity for me to do some of what I call snorkeling in ideas. I’m not committing too much. I may start and not finish a few different articles. I may read some things I am only mildly interested in. I will definitely branch out to areas of information outside my expertise. Snorkeling in ideas, especially new ideas, can be very valuable. It’s a better use of time than watching random videos or trolling Facebook… In fact, you may be using some of your snorkeling time to read this right now! Awesome.

But the truth is that when you snorkel in ideas, just like snorkeling above a reef, you are really close, but you are only getting a single angle on the idea. It’s a quick look. It’s fun, exciting, and new—but it’s also a low-commitment enterprise.

If you really want to get a multi-perspective view on that school of fish or that old shipwreck, you’ve got to put on your SCUBA gear and really get up close. You can swim around, looking at something from multiple angles, and get to see the many details you would have missed with just a surface look. You may see where I’m going here. Books are your SCUBA equipment for diving deep into ideas. They are the 4-hour, or 6-hour, or 10-hour commitment to a single enterprise. They often represent years of work culminating in a powerful biography or a masterpiece of personal development.

Every subject doesn’t merit a SCUBA dive and a 300-page book for every reader. That’s what Wikipedia, snorkeling, and our lunch breaks are for. But for those ideas, subjects, topics, and propositions you are keenly interested in exploring… read some reviews, talk to a trusted source, and find the right book. Snorkeling lets us explore many different worlds. SCUBA diving lets us explore a select few in depth. And, sometimes as readers or as creators, the snorkeling in one idea leads us to a deep dive into that same idea later on down the road.

We almost never remember what we read on the Internet. It’s probably 95% in one ear out the other. But, when we read a great book, we never forget it.