How to join the top 10% of fast learners

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How to make learning actually work

There’s one thing above all others that sets fast learners apart from everyone else.

Some of those in the top 10% of fast learners found that one thing naturally, or they worked it out for themselves. Others learned it. But the remaining average learners who haven’t found it, they’re either indifferent, oblivious, or still waiting for it to be handed to them.

Hopefully, with my last clue, you’ve figured out what that one thing is?

The fast learner knows, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that learning is done by them, never to them.

They know that you truly learn when you proactively look for the ball, find the ball, pick the ball up, run with it, dodging some obstacles, and knocking others aside, all the way to the line, where you score and enjoy the rewards that come from achieving your result.

Anything short of that, you haven’t really learned, because you haven’t earned the end feedback that tells you whether it worked or not.

The reason learning doesn’t work for the average learner

The reason learning doesn’t work for the average learner is that the average learner still believes the biggest lie ever told about learning. The lie still told by many educators, businesses, training organisations, average bosses, and other believers of the lie;

that learning is done to you, not by you.

They believe the lie that a learning solution (course, book, article, coaching programme) either works or it doesn’t. It’s not your fault either way. You’re off the hook. Standing on the sidelines looking in. Where you’ll judge from a safe distance whether it’ll work or not. Without committing yourself to actually make it work. And then you’ll decide, from your safe position, that it’s thumbs up, or thumbs down — still, without going through the hands on process of true learning that the fast learner commits to.

“The book! The course! The advice! They told me it would work. But, no, it just came and went, wasting my time, like all the others.”

The thought process of the fastest learners

The fast learner, meanwhile, follows a completely different thought process. They know that for it to work, they have to make it work. A learning solution is not a finished product. It’s simply raw ingredients. And despite any claims or expectations, it’s not even meant to work out the box. It’s meant to be experimented with. It’s meant to be sliced, diced and spliced and then mixed and tasted.

The fast learner thinks: I must roll my sleeves up, stride boldly into the unknown, pull it apart, compare it, reconstruct it, chew it over, challenge it, try it out, try it out again, throw some parts out, add other parts from other sources, measure it, and tweak it, until it works. And if I hit a barrier, when applying what I learned, that doesn’t mean that the ‘learning solution’ didn’t work. It means I’m learning. It is working. I expect barriers and set backs, and know that if I apply what I learn and learn some more (from other resources too) then I’ll overcome the barriers and I’ll have made my learning work.

The fast learner works it. They do the work. They make learning work. That’s what works.

“Learning doesn’t work!”

Years back, I was helping a team with goal setting, and an average learner, in an average job, living an average life, said, “goal setting doesn’t work!”

I asked if he made it into work on time that morning. He did. “That’s weird”, I said, “maybe it does work then?”

Another participant in a workshop of mine once closed with, “right, we’ll see if it works then!” I said, “no, you have to make it work. You have to pick it up, organise yourself, and persist until you get the break through you want. That’s if you want the breakthrough.”

I’m tempted at this stage to draw a cartoon of someone sitting on a couch, staring at a hammer, nail and picture lying on the floor on the other side of the room, and thinking, “I don’t get it, they told me this hammer would get the job done.”

How to make learning actually work

The average learner says, “it won’t work” or “it doesn’t work” or “I wonder if it works.”

The fast learner says, “how will I personally make as much of this as possible work for me?” and “how am I going to take these ideas and make them even more relevant to me and even better?”

One of those approaches doesn’t work.

The other does.

Important note to leadership who want to see improved performance:

Most leaders want their team to just learn ‘xyz’ fast so that they can do their jobs better. The problem here is, no matter how fantastic your learning course or programme is, learning is done by your team, not to them, and if your team consists of average learners, there lies the bottleneck. But what if, instead of trying to get them to learn ‘xyz’ fast, you instead helped them to learn how to become a fast learner? One who takes charge and self-directs their learning to do their job better?

If you’d like help unlocking the learning capabilities of your team, and if your team would like to be able to do their jobs better, I can probably help. Contact me here.

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Originally published at MarkMoore.co.