When people watch me read they will often say something like, "Oh, you're a speed reader. Does that really work?" I will usually respond, "No!" I know that sounds flippant, but truthfully, it does not work. You work it. Speed reading is a systematic approach you apply to learning and absorbing printed material.

I learned how to read faster and better about 32 years ago. I was desperate. I was a terrible student in my undergraduate days, and about to start a graduate school program while still needing to work full time. If I was going to succeed, I had to learn to do things differently. I had to learn a new set of behaviors for a process that was deeply ingrained, but highly inefficient.

Behavioral change is difficult. A complex set of skills like speed reading can be even more difficult. As humans, we resist change. I noticed this myself in the early stages of my learning. But, as mentioned before, I was desperate to succeed at learning these skills. It is amazing how desperation can actually supply the motivation for success.

Through the years of training tens of thousands of learners, I developed a quick assessment to get an early snapshot of the motivation of my learners. I call it the "Willingness Quotient." It is simply a self rating scale from 1 (low willingness) to 10 (high willingness). Hopefully it is obvious that this requires honesty in your answer. If you are not at least 6, you will probably not succeed to learning the skills, no matter how you go about learning to speed read.

If you're lower on the scale, here are some questions to ask yourself in order to raise your quotient:

1. What would be the result of you becoming a speed reader? Be specific with clear end results in mind. For me, it was getting through graduate school with high grades and ease of balancing my academic and work life as well as developing more enjoyment from all my reading.

2. If you were able to double, triple, or even quadruple your reading speed with excellent comprehension, what would that do for you over the next year, 5 years, and 10 years? Looking at this set of skills and considering the cumulative effect over time can help you develop more want power.

3. What would being a better more efficient reader do for your earning power? Numerous studies show that most of the self-made millionaires are avid readers. The ability to read more with ease gives an immeasurable competitive advantage. How committed to your own success are you?

4. How much time during your work day could you save by reading more efficiently? The average office worker spends 3-4 hours a day in reading tasks. If you merely doubled your reading speed and efficiency that would give you an additional 10 hours in your week to do other important things, or 500 hours a year. That's over 10 weeks of work time you could save by merely doubling your reading efficiency.

5. What could happen for your career/job advancement if you were better able to learn more in less time? Imagine if you had the answer to an important problem or question that no one else has because you are better informed and you read more than your average co-worker.

6. What would acquiring the skills of speed reading do for your personal development? The late management guru Peter Drucker used to read 15 minutes a day in a new topic every 2-5 years. He was an expert in many subjects that helped him remain a "guru" into his 90s. The more sources of information you are expert in helps with better decisions in all aspects of your life.

Recently I heard Dr Wayne Dyer, another self-improvement guru say, "Willingness is anything you're unwilling to do." Reflect on that for a moment. How many things have you started in the past that did not come to fruition? At some point you encountered the moment of truth for yourself. Either you decided to do whatever it takes, or, you gave up for any number of reasons. Those reasons are really reflecting your willingness quotient.

The key success in any endeavor is willpower. Willpower is want power. How self-disciplined are you in creating your success? Self-discipline is doing things in spite of how you feel. Willingness is the key to your learning and mastering this powerful set of learning skills that come with learning to speed read.

Author's Bio: 

Ed Caldwell is the creator and publisher of the "Masters Online Program: Dynamic Reading, Memory, and Recall" and other live and web-based learning programs. As former National Director of Instruction and Certification for the world famous Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics program, Ed has 30 years experience teaching and testing new strategies to help people from all walks of life learn to read more efficiently. Trainer, speaker, and writer, he can be contacted at inquiry@productivelearn.com. He is the creator and president of Productive Learning Systems, Inc, and ProductivElearn.com, Inc. You can learn more at http://speedreadingtactics.com/speed_reading_newsletter.html and download the free eBook, "The 10 Top Mistakes When Learning Speed Reading."