Books as a Way of Becoming Deeply Immersed in the Arena of Learning
A Chat With Gabriel Mitchell of Learn Arena
My memory is typically on-point when it comes to remembering where I’ve met someone, even as far back as my early formative years. But for the life of me, I can’t accurately retrieve that for Gabriel Mitchell, who I just connected (or let’s say reconnected) with on LinkedIn.
What I do know is that we hold similar philosophies relative to our beliefs around liberty and freedom. We are a part of a growing collective of folks who believe that all of us should be free to live our lives and pursue our interests as we see fit as long as we do no harm to another.
Living just south of me in Colorado Springs, Gabriel is the Educational Director for Learn Arena, an innovative educational platform that allows users a gamified way to engage in learning. You can compete to earn income, reach polymathic knowledge levels, rise up the community leaderboard, and even land a job.
As Gabriel puts it: “My core responsibility is getting the course selection bigger and better.”
A startup in the early stages of its evolutionary development, Learn Arena at its core is a celebration of human potential and greatness. In a world that often values conformity and mediocrity, the company and its team……
“…..stand as a light on the hill calling out to those who seek more. We see education as a means of investing in ourselves to advance our goals, our careers, and our enjoyment of life.”
Among the historical figures they cite as being in alignment with these core tenets include Marcus Aurelius, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, and Aristotle. The aesthetic undergirding of this philosophy can be witnessed in the art of Greek and Roman statues that highlight the strength and beauty of their subjects. It’s this very idealized human form that romanticizes the journey of becoming our best selves.
Books are a foundational piece of Learn Arena’s roadmap to fuel and foster the growth of its learning community and showcase its brand philosophy. To this point, they have curated a reading list that quite honestly left me salivating at the depth of it. You can can gain early access to Learn Arena and download the list HERE.
Like me, Gabriel is disturbed by a statistic that suggests that upwards of 42% of everyday people we cross paths with haven’t read a book since college. He attributes this to schools and their propensity to want to turn reading into a chore, making it into a wall you have to scale in order to graduate.
Gabriel believes that those who pick up reading after their school years are often confronted with the self-inflicted roadblocks of starting a book and then pushing it aside. This, he says, leads to a state of “biblio paralysis” where one feels tormented over commencing the next one without finishing the first.
His advice if you want to read and complete more books: pursue alternative ways to read through digital or audio books. But, he says, there is a caveat here, namely, that it doesn’t solve the essential issue of one’s broader philosophical mindset around reading. In other words, Gabriel implores us to “read more selfishly” by viewing it as a self serving development activity versus as a chore.
“Read for you first and make sure that it aligns with your goals and aims.”
The key to this, he adds, is to select books that truly align with your values, one’s that you really want to read versus via some random recommendation from others. Moreover, Gabriel cautions against the propensity many of us have around thinking that we must finish a book before moving on to the next one. He says that if your interest in a book begins to wane, ask yourself, “is this book still serving me?” If the answer is “no,” then move on.
In the end, Gabriel believes that by pursuing books that you enjoy, the more you will want to read. This, he says, will lead to reading becoming both a leisure and productive chore that doesn’t induce anxiety. You won’t need someone checking in with you every week to hold you accountable. Rather you’ll begin to effortlessly embrace a love for reading that carries you into the rest of your life.
Before concluding my conversation with Gabriel, I inquired about what he is reading these days and in true polymatic form he offered this:
“I'm finishing up Ayn Rand's Objectivist Epistemology. It's one of her more challenging and technical books but I've learned so much in the process. I recently restarted the RedWall series to scratch a nostalgia itch. And I am about to begin King Warrior Magician Lover because as I enter into my late 20s, the question of how to be a good healthy man has been on my mind more and more.