9 Skills You Can Get from Extraordinary Learners

Learn the extra skills you need to thrive in life from these 5 people.

Tim Denning
Jul 30 · 5 min read

People who think they know everything rarely succeed in life. The life of a know-it-all tends to be a couch potato.

That’s why you want to become obsessed with learning. Learning is everything. To learn is a gift.

Remember what it was like to go to school for the first time. Learning was fun. There were sandpits, books about made-up worlds, and other kids to experiment with. Then university came along and made learning ugly. Learning became for many of us, a means for survival and a future strategy to put food on the table. Then life knocks you in the face.

You do a few job interviews and realize that unless you’re a doctor or a lawyer, nobody asks you about what university you went to or what grades you got. Who gives a shit.

Falling in love with learning all over again will improve your life.

These are a few extraordinary learners you can study:

  • Tim Ferriss — podcaster, author
  • Benjamin Hardy — blogger/writer
  • Danny Forrest — Founder, SkillUp Academy
  • Derek Sivers — Entrepreneurial worker bee in residence
  • Oprah — (you know the one)

Each of them has mastered the art of learning. They stack skills on top of each other to produce bizarre results.

Scott Adams, founder of the cartoon Dilbert, talks about skill stacking a lot. The idea is you can take two completely unrelated skills you’ve learned and produce unlikely results. That’s what Scott did when he fused drawing, writing and comedy together.

Here’s what extraordinary learners do from my study of them over the last six years.

1. Learners see skills as a way to make art.

How you see learning is crucial. Think of learning as a game. When you play the game of acquiring skills you can use them to make art. You don’t want to paint or draw or write. Okay that’s cool. Running is art. Podcasting is art.

Anything done well and with passion is art.

I have fused the skills of writing, imagery, social media and business. You can do the same. It’s straightforward.

Take 2–3 skills and stack them together = ART.


2. Learners write for clarity.

Writing reinforces an idea. It helps you put an idea into your own words.

When you take an idea and put it into your own words, you create clarity in your mind. There are many key lessons to be learned with any skill and practicing the habit of writing about them will fast-track your success rate.

If you really want to get crystal clear thoughts you can touch, have a warm shower. Your mind will be relaxed and your thoughts will be so clear you’ll want to write them down.

Use liquid chalk and write your thoughts on the shower wall.


3. Learners read.

The best way to learn is through other people’s experiences. Blog posts are nice, but books are far more in-depth. Reading about someone’s life in a book takes the information and fuses it with stories.

Stories make the learning stick.

No one will be able to stop you in life if you make the crazy decision to read a book a week.

Each extraordinary learner I have studied for the last six years is obsessed with books. I’d go as far as saying they’d rather starve than give up reading books.

Books are a purchase they view as an investment, not an expense on their balance sheet of life.


4. Learners are stupidly consistent.

You won’t find them learning for one hour a year. Or writing their learning goal down on their new year’s’ resolutions list.

Learners consistently learn because they’ve made learning a habit.

The decision to learn has been automated by their consistency. When you’re consistent, you build a pattern. You apply that pattern to your process and away you go.

I learned the skill of writing by starting out publishing four full-length blog posts a week. I was a really shit writer to begin with but it didn’t matter. I learned to write by being consistent.

Whatever skill you want to develop, find a way to be consistent. Schedule skill acquisition, as a meeting with yourself in your calendar, if you have to.


5. Learners make time to think.

Learners are thinkers first and foremost. They weren’t born thinkers. They made time to think.

Sitting at home and looking out the window in complete silence is drastically underrated. Sitting still and thinking about a problem is powerful. Daydreaming is even more powerful.

Daydreaming is where you unlock your imagination and use it to serve you. Your imagination can come up with wild ideas that lead to the best learning of your life.

Dare to dream. Stop letting society kick the learning out of you by listening to the negativity and letting it block your imagination.


6. Learners make problems their WHY.

Having a reason to learn matters. Learns use problems as their why. A problem fascinates them and they choose to learn about it.

That decision to learn leads them down a rabbit hole. Finding a solution becomes a game. And when you gamify learning, it’s really enjoyable.

Gamified learning is addictive.


7. Learners create more than they consume.

Overconsumption kills a learner’s dreams.

The point of learning is to create and apply what you’ve learned. Excessive streaming and consumption of social media takes you away from the time you need to learn. Sure, enjoy a bit of TV, but do you really need to consume the whole series?

Roughly calculate how much time you spend each week consuming vs creating. Shift the percentage split slightly in the favor of creating and you’ll see huge changes in your life.


8. Learners do this: Practice.

Without practice, all learning becomes is mental foreplay.

The whole point is to practice what you’ve learned. You’ll probably stuff up a lot or look stupid in front of a group of online strangers. Who cares Bob.

Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice leads to more learning. Practice is the fun part. It’s where you get to explore what you’ve learned. Practice leads to action and later that could lead you to change your entire career.

What you’ve learned and then practiced could become the work you do which helps you earn a living. You may even label it as work you love.


9. Learners never stop learning.

That’s what is extraordinary about Mr Ferriss, Ben, Danny, Derek, and Lady Op’s (Oprah). They never stop learning. Learning is a game that never ends.

They keep on learning and then spread the art of learning to others. They preach learning because learning is what defined everything they achieved.

Those who never stop learning have come to terms with one truth about life: we know nothing. You will never know much about anything and that’s the paradoxical brilliance of learning.


Final Thought

Become an extraordinary learner. Follow this process:

  • Learn
  • Question what you’ve learned
  • Unlearn some of what you’ve learned

When your focus is to learn, your goals in life are achieved 10X faster.

Join my email list with 40K+ people for more helpful insights.

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Tim Denning

Written by

Aussie Blogger — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship. www.timdenning.com

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 105,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

Tim Denning

Written by

Aussie Blogger — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship. www.timdenning.com

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 105,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

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