Learning is lifelong. How to be a more effective learner.
The traditional thought is you finish school, get a job, and then you know everything forever. The end. Such a limiting mentality is akin to telling yourself no every time you wanna try something new. Humans are risk averse instead or reward seeking, and this leads us to stay in our comfort zone. If your desire is to learn, and not look smart, then it takes all the pressure off when asking questions. Your effort in asking these questions will be rewarded with new knowledge. How it helps you in your life is unknown, but someday you may be able to teach someone something that will change their life forever.
Raoul Pal says there are two zones of operation: “the comfort zone and where the magic happens. They don’t overlap.”
All opportunity, all growth, and all excitement happen outside of the comfort zone. I believe that the only reason I do anything these days is because I get an exhilarating rush from learning and experiencing new things where the magic happens.
I don’t even need to win. Truth be told, I’ve lost a lot. Twitch streaming, options trading, wood working, photography, trying to be a car guy. I’ve done a lot, lost a lot, and I’ll continue to do a lot because that’s where I find excitement in life. In the new.
But what happens if you hate new? Does the thought of taking $1,000 or even $10 and putting it into a cryptocurrency give you heart palpitations? Let’s talk about what you can do to take your first step in becoming an infinite learner and unlocking the potential of you.
Two things before we get started.
- What’s an infinite learner?
- A quote I recently found and really like.
An infinite learner is someone who not only enjoys learning, but needs to be constantly learning. It’s a part of them. Bob is the tire guy. Terry is the funny friend. Ryan is the guy who is constantly learning new stuff and then dropping the topic once he finds something new to learn about.
Next, a quote I saw on twitter that was pretty neat. “I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent — no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.” — Seneca
In this context let’s replace the word misfortune with discomfort. Those that are not able to step out of their comfort zone, experience the discomfort of the new, and spend some time in the magic zone miss out on all that they could have become.
I still sometimes say I’m figuring out what I want to be when I grow up because there is so much to this world that is left unknown and unexplored.
I was in my early twenties before I knew that you could buy and sell stocks for a living. It’s not that I was dumb, I just was never introduced or exposed to this when I was younger. Had I not taken the first step out of my comfort zone to explore the world of finance I would’ve missed out on a decades long research project for myself. I am absolutely enamored with money, finance, and how the world operates around it. Now that I have a better than average grasp on economic systems I can explore the world of crypto and DeFi and use my base knowledge as a springboard into new unchartered territories.
Enough rambling, I like learning, and I hope I can help you like it too.
Four Steps to learn more effectively and enjoy it along the way.
Find something adjacent to what you’re good at.
If you’re hesitant to leave the comfort zone, your first step shouldn’t be to jump from your expertise in social media blogging to installing a twin turbo V8 in a car you just bought. The jump is too large, you’ll be overwhelmed, and quit right after you start. For me this was software engineering. I have no adjacent skill for coding, I don’t enjoy it, and only really ever wanted to learn it because I was money motivated. I don’t think I’ve ever made it to lesson two of a coding course because it just doesn’t fit within my wheelhouse.
Get good at quitting.
This seems so counterintuitive that I struggled actually keeping it on the list. I tried photography for a bit. I banged my head against understanding focus and frame and color and all of the technical approaches people teach in their photography videos. I quit photography after like a month and it was the best thing for me. I didn’t get stuck. I didn’t lose confidence. I made sure that it was framed as photography not clicking with me, and not me not clicking with learning new things. (Pun kind of intended)
Listen to the thing, read the thing, do the thing, teach the thing.
Progressive input of information makes it stick. We are social creatures and I love listening to other people speak. Whether it’s an in person lecture or a YouTube video I gain so much knowledge from listening to other people speak because I understand it as a shared experience and it sticks for me. Reading is great for filling in all the gaps that videos may gloss over because you can deep dive into an article or a white paper to solidify your understanding. Real life application and practice of the thing helps you find your blind spots. When cooking, if you’re following a recipe your mind consciously will call out “I knew to do this next” or “I didn’t know this was coming” that will imprint your next steps to full mastery. On teaching Einstein said it best — “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. From complexities, down to the fundamentals, teaching a topic simply gauges your full comprehension.
University, college, apprenticeships, or recipes are a great way to learn because there is structure and it allows the mind to properly compartmentalize all of the new information it’s taking in. I’m struggling with this in the crypto space right now. I’m learning cryptography, cryptocurrency, DeFi, DAO’s, Web3, NFT’s, blockchains, rollups, and so much more because it’s so new. I really like the overload of information because it’s fun for me but I need to understand that I am not learning efficiently or effectively. If I were to commit to one idea I would gain full mastery of it faster, but I’m just enjoying the rest of it too much.
That’s all I got for today!
TL,DR: Try. Stop trying. Try in different ways. Try one thing at a time.
Best of luck on trying something new.