You’re Finishing Knowledge, Not Learning — How to Learn And Understand Instead of Finish

The by product of gamification of all experiences including learning is that the engineering of the experience is getting us hooked to finish first, and learn second.

Getting into flow is what makes learning or any focused activity fun.

You’re not hooked on the knowledge or game itself, but the knowledge or game creates the chemical state in your brain that actually keeps you hooked.

Being in ‘flow’ is a chemical cocktail

The chemical cocktail of a flow state occurs when challenge and progress are aligned. This is how ‘user experience’ is engineered and why it’s intended to keep you hooked. Be aware of this as you’re using any software or reading content to learn it.

“The brain produces a giant cascade of neurochemistry. You get norepinephrine, dopamine, anandamide, serotonin and endorphins. All five of these are performance enhancing neurochemicals.” said Author of The Rise of Superman, Steven Kotler.

This is why everything is ‘gamified’ today, getting to the next level creates just enough challenge to create the right chemical cocktail in the brain to keep you going. Today, we’re all addicted to our ways so it’s our responsibility to get addicted to the right things.

Why do you take in knowledge in the first place?

What motivated you to read this article?

Ideally you could absorb the knowledge quickly and just have it downloaded into your brain so you wouldn’t have to read it, right?

Or is the addictive flow state that makes it fun?

I think most of us agree it’s a bit of both but if you “had more time” or could “download more knowledge” quicker you’d certainly jump on it as I would.

I’m a voracious reader but constantly catch myself being caught in the perpetual dopamine induced flow state of zipping through the book, when in fact you’re better off going slow, reading until you reach a section that makes you stop, think, and meditate on what you just read, and create a simple association in which you can relate the knowledge learned so it becomes easy to recall and understand.

The icing on the cake is when you take it a step further, and teach it to someone. It’s very well known that mastering a subject and learning in general get’s ingrained most when you’re teaching it.

A little discipline to get to the level where you can teach it and you’re golden.

For example, I was reading Nick Bostrum’s legendary book on artificial intelligence yesterday morning. In it he talks about the ‘intelligence explosion’ — when the AI’s we produce can produce better AI’s than we can. As someone who just took in that piece of knowledge for the first time, I’d definitely forget it if I just counted on my rote memory. This is a fact. Therefore, I apply learning principals to both remember the words ‘intelligent explosion’ and use that to create an association to then teach it.

According to learning leader Jim Kwik, memory and learning teacher to actors making films like the X-men, come up with a very bold and vivid visual to associate with ‘intelligent explosion’. I decided to visualize an army of 1 million robots building and reproducing other little robots. Now, all I have to focus on remembering when I hear “intelligence explosion” is this memorable visual and I’ll recreate what it is in a simple way that helps me understand and use the knowledge.

The trick to learning is to commit to the situation where you have to do it.

As in, you can’t count on “getting motivated” and forcing yourself out of sheer will. This never works and isn’t sustainable over long periods of time. Ie. I became a leader when I understood this principle and applied it. I wanted to become a ceo, so I started a company and forced myself to learn everything else involved.

I want to become good at public speaking so I book the presentation and then learn.

It’s the state your’e in that creates the context and urgency for deliberate learning.

I want to become a masterful writer and having to write well for the company is bringing it out of me.

Science is proving that putting yourself in situations where you have to show up is the way to create the motivation to reach the level of growth and learning you’re looking for.

Learning becomes the result and you need to put yourself in the position to create that result.

Want to be like the CEO, start a company. Want to get in shape, declare that you’ll go shirtless on FB live in two months.

That’s how you push yourself to maximize potential and that’s what will force you to deeply learn to understand instead of finish.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this piece, please recommend it and consider sharing. It’s tough getting work to spread so every share and like helps.

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I look forward to hearing from you. Warmly, Aram