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The One Process That Marks the Difference Between Quick Learners and Ordinary Learners

The One Process That Marks the Difference Between Quick Learners and Ordinary Learners

Do you have difficulty comprehending a new concept after you read? Do you refuse to even attempt to improve your math skills? If this sounds like you, stop worrying because there is a simple approach you can use to improve. The trick is to simply apply what you are learning.

    Without any additional application, we will only retain 10% of what we read. 10%! Yet, if we attempt to teach others a new concept, we find that we are able to retain 90% of the information. Even simply discussing the concept with others will help us retain 50% of the information. Essentially, reading or learning a new concept will provide us no practical good without practice.[1]

    So, let’s look at what it actually means to apply what we learn and how we can use some powerful techniques to improve.

    Learning = Download + Process + Apply

    Think of the application of knowledge through this analogy: You have two islands separated by a river. One island represents knowing, the other island represents understanding. The application of new knowledge is like building a bridge between the two; hence, applying new knowledge bridges the gap between knowing and understanding.

    We should strive to create a habit of always considering ways to immediately implement what we are reading or learning into our daily lives. Let me show you why this is important by looking at a formula for learning called The Learning Formula (TLR).

    With TLR, we start by learning something new, followed by actively processing new knowledge, then applying it as soon as possible; thus, demonstrating that learning updates in our brain by using the following formula: Learning = Download + Process + Apply.[2]

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    Let’s briefly breakdown each component of the TLR.

    Download

    Similar to how a computer downloads information, we must first download knowledge. We can do this through the following ways: reading a book, listening to an audiobook, watching a video online, or listening to a lecture.

    The first thing we should do after downloading new information is to deconstruct it. Elon Musk has mastered this concept and found that knowledge has a logical structure. Drake Baer writes, “Over 2,300 years ago, Aristotle said that a first principle is the first basis from which a thing is known and that pursuing first principles is the key to doing any sort of systemic inquiry.”[3]

    Process

    We process new knowledge when we connect the dots between new and old ideas. Essentially, we are connecting new chunks of information with something we already know. Here are two great ideas to use when processing new information.

    • Analogies. An analogy is simply a comparison between two concepts for the purpose of explanation. Here is a brilliant (and a favorite of mine) example of an analogy (could also be a metaphor) for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carol.

    When Carol’s expedition into whimsical absurdity opens, a young girl (Alice) is strolling through a meadow, when a rabbit suddenly appears. She thinks nothing of it at first, until the rabbit pulls out a watch and looks at it. She realizes this is not an ordinary rabbit. This represents the new and unexplored or a burning curiosity. Alice runs after the rabbit like chasing a new idea. She decides to follow the rabbit down a rabbit hole, never considering how she would get out. This represents following through with a new idea for the excitement of discovery is like chasing the rabbit or idea down the rabbit hole. Alice is unsure where this chasing will take her, yet she is excited to pursue the idea without question. [4]

    • Diagrams. A diagram is a drawing that represents the appearance or structure of something in graphic form. This could be anything from a simple sketch to a detailed outline of the universe. For example, let’s look at a diagram to help us understand how objects interact in the classic book Flatland.

      Apply

      Let me ask you a simple question. What good does it do you to read or learn new information if you are not going to use it? Unless you are reading something for pure enjoyment (think Harry Potter), you must have the mindset of using the new knowledge to improve yourself.

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      By applying what we learn, we are able to secure it in long-term memory. One of the best ways to apply our knowledge is to teach it. Teaching forces us to dive into the concept and really start to understand it. However, the best way is to start applying it in your line of work and immediately use it. Once you gain practical experience with this new concept, try to explain the technical information to someone. For example, write a blog about it. It’s amazing what this can do for you retention of new knowledge!

      Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of applying new knowledge.

      • Improved Problem Solving. By applying what we learn, we become better problem solvers. The more we read and learn, the more information and knowledge we come across. If we apply it in our daily life, we will start to notice we use this new knowledge daily.
      • Improved Memory. The more we apply new knowledge, the better it will stick in our memory.

      Let your mind go wild and go down the rabbit hole

      If you find that you are the type of person who consistently goes down rabbit holes when learning or discussing a new concept… embrace it! Yes, embrace it! Here is why.

      I recently created a new theory for learning. I call it the Deep Rabbit Hole (DRH) Learning Theory[5]. I constructed the theory on the following premises.

      Premise #1. Learning a new concept takes us down a rabbit hole.

      Premise #2. Inside the rabbit hole, we find new ideas are easily connected to old ideas.

      Conclusion. Therefore, learning a new concept is easier by allowing yourself to go down a rabbit hole.

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      The key to this approach is to allow yourself the freedom to freely fall down the rabbit hole. When you chase the rabbit down the hole without any hesitation, you will be amazed where you end up! Here is how I construct my DRH (with a brief example).

      Restate the question.

      Clearly define the purpose.

      Use a DRH. Similar to a semantic tree: deconstruct the concept, question, or idea.

      Clearly identify the parts of the rabbit hole you want to apply. Here, you are coloring or circling those components you would like to further apply or break down into their own DRH. This is important, because a DRH will lead to lots of new ideas to get lost in!

      This is going to sound completely crazy, but I used a DRH to conduct a thought experiment. This approach allowed me to create a new (and crazy) theory. The Color of the 4th Dimension. The image below is an example of this creation. [6]

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        Elon Musk’s brilliant approach

        In my opinion, there is no one doing more to move the world forward today than Elon Musk. Musk is an advocate for learning across multiple fields. If we embrace learning across multiple fields, we find that we possess an information advantage as most people are solely focused on just one field.[7]

        Learning Transfer

        Musk has a large thirst for knowledge. He regularly exposes himself to numerous subjects. He also practices a skill known as the Learning Transfer. Essentially, this is taking what we learn and applying it to something else. Think of learning something in physics class and using it in sociology. For this, Musk has a two-step process.

        • Contrasting Cases. This is where you deconstruct something and look for the deeper understanding of it. For example, suppose you wanted to find the deeper principle for what makes the letter A an A. See below.

          • Reconstruct the principles you learn into different fields. To effectively do this, we should ask ourselves the following questions: “What does this remind me of?” and “Why does it remind me of it?”

          Other powerful techniques

          Lastly, there are quite a few additional techniques and examples we can use; however, I have narrowed the list down to two powerful techniques.

          1. ADEPT. When trying to comprehend a difficult concept, try the following: Find an Analogy, use a Diagram, Experience it, explain it in Plain English, and describe the Technical Details. [8]
          2. Solo Taxonomy. Structure of Observed Learning Outcome. This is a model describing the levels of increased complexity. Here, you move from an abstract thought, to a clear image, then to a creative and better outcome.

          I encourage you all to embrace the application of new knowledge. To me, this is common sense. Unless we use it, we will lose it. Learning plus thinking equals creating! Lastly, remember this powerful advice from Marianne Williamson:

          “You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.”

          Reference

          More by this author

          Dr. Jamie Schwandt

          Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

          5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory 10 Best Brain Power Supplements That Will Supercharge Your Mind How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills and Make Smart Choices How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits 10 Hacks to Increase Your Brain IQ, Focus and Creativity

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          Last Updated on August 20, 2019

          26 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life

          26 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life

          If you pay attention to your everyday life careful enough, you’ll know that you can learn from everything and everyone you come across. Our life is basically full of useful lessons that we should learn.

          Here are 26 useful things to learn that Abhishek A. Singh shared on Quora. Let’s see how these life theories would lead you to live a different life.

          1. Primacy and recency: People mostly remember the first and last things that occurred, barely the middle.

          When scheduling an interview, ask the employer the time slots they do interviews and try to be the first or the last.

          2. If you work in a bar or in customer service of any kind, put a mirror behind you at the counter.

          In this way, angry customers who approach you will have to see themselves in the mirror behind you and the chance of them behaving irrationally will be lowered significantly.

          3. Once you make a sales pitch, don’t say anything else.

          This works in sales, but it can also be applied in other ways.

          My previous boss was training me and just gave me pointers. I was working at a gym trying to sell memberships. He told me that once I got all the small talk out of the way and presented the prices, the first person to talk would lose.

          It didn’t seem like a big deal but it actually worked. Often there were long periods of awkward silence as the person tried to come up with some excuses, but usually they bought.

          4. If you ask someone a question and they only partially answer, just wait.

          If you stay silent and keep eye contact, they will usually continue to talk.

          5. Chew gum when you’re approaching a situation that would make you nervous, like public speaking or bungee jumping.

          When we eat, our brain tell ourselves, “I would not be eating if I were danger. So I’m not in danger.” This has helped me to stay calm.

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          6. People will always remember how you made them feel, not what you said.

          Also, most people like talking about themselves; so ask lots of questions about them.

          7. When you’re learning something new, teach it to a friend. Let them ask you questions about it.

          If you’re able to teach something well, you will be sure that you’ve understood it very well.

          8. If you get yourself to be really happy and excited to see other people, they will react the same to you.

          It doesn’t always happen the first time, but it will definitely happen the next time.

          9. The physical effects of stress — breathing rate and heart rate — are almost identical to the physical effects of courage.

          When you’re feeling stressed in any situations, immediately reframe it : Your body is getting ready to be courageous, you are NOT stressed.

          10. Pay attention to people’s feet.

          If you approach two people in the middle of a conversation, and they only turn their torsos and not their feet, they don’t want you to join in the conversation.

          Similarly, if you are in a conversation with a coworker who you think is paying attention to you and their torso is turned towards you but their feet are facing in another direction, they want the conversation to end.

          11. Confidence is more important than knowledge.

          Don’t be intimidated by anyone, everyone is playing a role and wearing a mask.

          12. If you pretend to be something for long enough, you will eventually become it.

          Fake it till you make it. Period.

          13. Not to be creepy, but if you want to stare at someone unashamedly, look directly past them and wait for them to try and meet your eyes.

          When they fail to do that, they’ll look around (usually nervously for a second) they won’t look at you again for some time. This is your chance to straight up stare at this person for at least 45 seconds.

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          And as suggested by Brian Stutzman:

          If you’re staring at someone and get caught, DON’T turn your head or your body to look away, because that just confirms that you were staring.

          Just move your EYEBALLS off the person. Unlike turning your head, it’s instantaneous. And the person will think you were just looking at something behind them and that they were mistaken for thinking you were staring. Do it confidently, and ignore any reaction from the person, and you can sell it every single time.

          After a second, you can even look back at them with a “Why are you staring at me?” look on your face to really cement the deal!

          14. Build a network.

          Become the information source, and let the information be yours. Even grabbing a beer with a former colleague once a year will keep you in the loop at the old office.

          Former coworkers might have gotten a new position in that office you always wanted to work in, great! Go to them for a beer, and ask about the office. It’s all about connections and information.

          15. If you are angry at the person in front of you driving like a grandmother…

          Pretend it is your grandmother, it will significantly reduce your road rage.

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            16. Stand up straight.

            No slouching, hands out of pockets, and head held up high. It’s not just a cliche — you literally feel better and people around you feel more confident in you.

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            17. Avoid saying “I think,” and “I believe” unless absolutely necessary.

            These are phrases that do not evoke confidence, and will literally do you no good.

            18. When feeling anxious, clean up your home or work space.

            You will feel happier and more accomplished than before.

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              19. Always buy the first pitcher or round of drinks.

              You’d be surprised how long you could drink on the phrase “I bought the first one.”

              20. Going into an interview… be interested in your interviewers.

              If you focus on learning about them, you’ll seem to be more interesting and dynamic. (Again, people love to talk about themselves.)

              21. Pay attention parents! Always give your kid a choice that makes them think they are in control.

              For instance, when I want my son to put his shoes on I will say ,”do you want to put your star wars shoes on or your shark shoes on?”

              Pro-tip: In some cases, this works on adults.

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                22. Your action affects your attitude more than your attitude affects your action.

                As my former teacher said “You can jump and dance FOR joy, but you can also jump and dance yourself joyful.”

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                23. When a group of people laugh, people will instinctively look at the person they feel closest to in that group.

                Notice who you look at and who look at you when you laugh with a group of people!

                24. If you want to build rapport or gain someone’s trust quickly, match their body posture and position.

                If someone is sitting with her legs crossed, cross your legs. If they’re leaning away from you, lean away from them. If they’re leaning towards you, lean towards them.

                Mirroring and matching body position is a subconscious way to tell if someone trusts you or is comfortable with you. If you’re sitting with your arms crossed and you notice someone else is sitting with her arms crossed, that is a good indicator that you have/are successfully built/building rapport with that person.

                25. The Benjamin Franklin Effect (suggested by Matt Miller)

                I find the basis of the Benjamin Franklin effect is very useful and extends far beyond pencil borrowing. This knowledge is useful in the world of flirting too.

                Asking a girl in your class if you can borrow a pencil or her notes or to explain the homework will make her more likely to like you than if you let her borrow your stuff or are the one to help her. Even just asking a girl to buy you drinks (facetiously) leaves a much bigger impression than offering to or actually buying a girl a drink.

                The best part is it kills 3 birds with one stone: you get the advantages of the favor itself, the person subconsciously likes you more, and it makes them more open to future favors and conversation.

                26. Handle panic and anxiety behaviors by tapping fingers (Suggested by Jade Barbee)

                When you’re feeling stressed, worried or angry, tap each finger tip while thinking (or speaking quietly) a few specific words about what is bothering you. Repeat the same words while tapping each of your 10 fingers, including thumbs.

                For example, tap while saying, “I’m so angry with her…” Doing so will likely take the charge out of the feeling and return you to a more resourceful (better feeling) state of being. It’s called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or “tapping,” and it is useful in many life situations – emotional sadness, physical pain, food cravings, traumatic memories…

                Featured photo credit: Nicole Wolf via unsplash.com

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