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Hard-Working People Climb to the Top, Smart People Hack It

Hard-Working People Climb to the Top, Smart People Hack It
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Have you ever played the team-building game called Bigger or Better?

The game is like an adult version of Trick or Treat and works in the following way:

You start off with a small item such as a paperclip or pencil, and you have to try to turn it into something more valuable by doing small trades with other players. If you play the game skillfully, you can eventually exchange your small item into something more expensive (e.g., an iPhone or a bicycle).[1]

    The reason the game is often played in team-building exercises, is that it demonstrates how successful people get from the bottom to the top. The game also shows how insignificant items (like a paperclip), after trading with different people, can end up becoming something big and substantial.

    Just as in the make-believe game of Bigger or Better, there is a little-known way of reaching the top in your chosen career.

    Stop Climbing, Start Hacking

    The method involves not just finding a career ladder and trying to climb it, but switching ladders at appropriate times, with the aim of bypassing ‘dues’ and accelerating along your very own Bigger or Better cycle. The idea of switching career ladders has been well developed by author Shane Snow in his book Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.

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    Shane Snow is a journalist, web entrepreneur and the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Contently – a tech platform that matches qualified freelance journalists with online media outlets in the rapidly changing world of publishing. He was named Inc Magazine’s “Inc. 30 Under 30” in July 2012, and Business Insider’s “Silicon Valley’s 100 Coolest People In Tech,” also in July 2012.

    The framework Shane created (and showcased in his book) is for anyone who wants to take their career to the next level in the most efficient way.

    His framework is very similar to Bigger or Better. However, instead of switching small items for bigger ones, and bigger ones for even bigger ones – you replace these items with your career choices. The idea is to create a winning cycle that accelerates your achievements and success. After lots of small wins, eventually you find yourself with a major win (think paperclip to bicycle).

      It’s the same for your career. Rather than following the traditional way of going step-by-step along the same straight path – you switch paths when the one you’re on is not working – or you switch based on your previous success to get something better.

      In his acclaimed book, Shane tells the story of how he ‘hacked’ his career ladder.

      He had a goal of becoming a writer for WIRED magazine, but knew that without relevant experience, this could take years to achieve. So, he put his creativity to work, and came up with the following process:

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      1. He put together a list of sites and magazines that if he wrote for, would impress the editor of WIRED.
      2. His list looked like this: The Next Web > Gizmodo > Mashable > Fast Company.
      3. He then applied to write for The Next Web (which is certainly not a simple feat – but definitely easier than trying to become a writer for WIRED).
      4. Once he was established as a writer for The Next Web (and had articles under his name as proof), he then applied to write for Gizmodo.
      5. I’m sure you can guess the next steps, which eventually led to him securing work as a writer for WIRED.

      Now, here’s the amazing part. From starting on the path to achieving his goal of writing for WIRED, Shane took just six months![2]

        It worked for him, and it can work for you too. Let’s see how.

        How This Method Fast-Tracks Your Success

        I’ll say it again, traditional career paths are slow. Mostly, this is caused by the conventional waiting periods needed to move up the ladder to higher positions.

        If you don’t mind spending years in the same role before moving up – then the traditional route may be the way for you. However, if you want to be competitive and innovative, forget the traditional way. It will frustrate you – and your career ambitions!

          So, what to do?

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          Well, firstly, think laterally rather than just vertically. By thinking laterally, you’ll immediately step outside of the career path that most people are trying to move along. This will give you an advantage over them.

          Just to be clear, by moving from time-to-time in a sideways direction doesn’t mean you’re changing your end goal. In reality, you’re just making your route to the top more flexible and adaptable.

          Now, here’s the key thing to remember. Once colleagues and managers see you as a success in one role, they’ll automatically assume that you’ll be successful in any other role that you’re placed in. In other words, success breeds success!

          Let’s dig a little deeper into how this method works.

          Every time you move to a new role or company, you’ll meet and attract new and varied people. And if you’re doing a good job, then these people will become your allies and partners. Think of it this way: you’ll be rapidly building your own personal network of individuals who can help support your goals and dreams.

          On the other hand, if you choose to stick to the traditional career ladder, it’s likely that you’ll have a limited network of contacts, as you’re only growing within a small department – or within the same organization.

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            The method is really just common sense. But it’s not something that we’re taught at school or college.

            So, are you ready to fast-track your career? Here are my recommended steps:

            • Know exactly what your end goal is.
            • Meet a minimum standard of credibility for any required tasks (either show years of experience, or show that you’ve ‘made it’ somewhere comparable).
            • Once you start off at the ground level, think of ways of how you can get to the next level (don’t limit yourself to the same ladder).
            • Keep going upwards by using new ladders and with the help of your ever-increasing network of contacts.

            Don’t Leave You Career to Chance

            Climbing the traditional career ladder is often a slow, laborious and frustrating experience. You may wait years for a promotion, only to find that a younger, less-experienced colleague has been given the job.

            So, decide on the big goal that you want to achieve, and then implement the methods suggested in this article to help you reach it. By following these little-known methods, you can enjoy a fun, adventurous and rewarding career.

            Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

            Reference

            More by this author

            Leon Ho

            Founder & CEO of Lifehack

            A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success How to Get Motivated Every Day When You Wake Up Can’t Focus? The Mistake You’re Making and How to Focus Better 17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

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            Last Updated on June 1, 2021

            10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

            10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner
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            The importance of learning cannot be underestimated. Learning empowers us to fulfill our ideas and realize our full potential. The speed of gaining new knowledge is practically as important as its volume. Who wouldn’t love to remember tons of information as quickly as possible?

            If you want to start learning faster, you need a new approach towards the process which would enable you to comprehend the essence of the matter and relate it with new concepts you encounter.

            The following 10 tips will help you become a fast learner:

            1. Analyze Your Learning Style

            Before you can start experimenting with different studying methods, you need to understand what type of learner you are:

            Is your memory associated to sound?

            Maybe you can remember what you were reading when a particular song was playing? If this is your case, then you fall into the category of auditory learners.

            If you want to start studying more efficiently, then it would be wise to record the lectures and listen to them instead of reading textbooks.

            Do you relate information to visual content?

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            If you are a visual learner, you should implement images, graphs, charts, infographics, colorful lists, flashcards, and other types of visual content when you study.

            Are you a physical learner?

            If your learning style is not auditory or visual, then you might be a physical learner. Some students have too much energy; they tap their feet or play with a pen during lectures.

            A walk before a lecture will calm your nerves down. You can try studying or listening to audio lectures during a walk. That will help you remember the information more quickly.

            2. Use the Right EdTech Tools

            Technology has the power of making everything easier. There are plenty of websites, online tools, and smartphone/tablet apps that will boost your skills of planning, writing, time management and brainstorming, etc.

            One way of improving your productivity is using flashcards. You can make your own cards, but you can also download pre-made kits online:

            • StudyBlue is one of the best online destinations when it comes to creating and discovering flashcards from all areas of study.
            • If you are looking for a tool that makes the process of brainstorming more effective, then you should try PapersGear.
            • You also need the SelfControl app, which will eliminate all distractions when you need to stay focused.
            • Quizlet is another website you should bookmark; it offers study tools that will transform the learning process into a fun activity.
            • Notella is an app that will help you take quick notes at any time.
            • Brainscape is an educational platform that makes complex subjects easy by relying on cognitive science.
            • You can also try Dragon Dictation, especially if you are an audio learner.

            3. Train Your Brain to Accept New Information

            Efficient studying is a habit. Your brain needs constant training if you want to improve your focus and complete complex tasks without taking breaks.

            One way to achieve this goal is to create a private learning space in your home. You’ll also need a specific time of day that you’ll devote to studying. That will make your brain ready to accept the information it gets, so you’ll notice you’re starting to learn much faster by the day.

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            4. Get Some Exercise

            You are aware of the fact that physical activity is good for your body, but your brain needs it too!

            Light exercise, such as yoga, can help you learn much faster. If you are inactive throughout the day, your body will want to move, so it will be difficult for you to stay focused.

            If, on the other hand, you canalize your energy through light training sessions, you will be ready to study productively.

            5. Work on the Ambiance

            If you have a noisy neighborhood or a working environment full of distractions, you won’t be able to learn or study no matter how hard you try.

            If you want to learn quickly, you need a quiet, distraction-free environment that won’t disturb the mind in any way. Such a peaceful place will set you in learning mode as soon as you find yourself in it.

            6. Take a Lot of Notes

            Only few people are capable of remembering information as they read it. If you don’t belong to this category of privileged learners, then you absolutely need to start taking notes.

            This simple learning method will force you to think about the essence of the material. It will also give you a nice framework that will help you review the things you’ve learned.

            Write down only the most important information. That will help you remember all the other things you’ve learned.

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            Here’re some tips to take notes effectively: Why Successful People Take Notes And How to Make It Your Habit

            7. Make Mind Maps

            Mind maps are among the best tools to speed up the learning process. Your mind will process information effectively if you create a visual representation of the things you’re about to learn.

            You can create a nice mind map in the old-school way: take a large sheet of paper and organize all facts and explanations. Use pictures, note-cards, and other symbols you can think of. Group similar items together and connect them with colorful pens.

            Some tips mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

            Of course, you can also use an online mind mapping tool if you want to save yourself some time.

            8. Experiment with Memorization Methods

            Memorizing is often misused in the process of studying. Some people memorize whole sentences, paragraphs and lectures without grasping their essence.

            However, memorization can be useful when you need to learn definitions and classifications really quickly. Don’t avoid this technique if you want to fill your brain with information without wasting any time.

            Try this if you want to memorize more and faster: How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

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            9. Find the Right Context

            Memorization works solely in times of urgency. If you want to learn in the most effective manner, then you need to have context for information.

            Find an aspect that’s interesting for you; try to research for related information, and you’ll discover the joy of learning.

            The first step? Jot down as much information and as many ideas as possible: How Simply Jotting Down Ideas Can Make You Smarter

            With time, this practice will make you a faster learner.

            10. Study Every Day

            It will take some time before you get used to a daily studying routine, but your mind will eventually grasp the habit.

            The more frequently you study, the less time it will take for you to remember the things you read.

            If you start studying as soon as possible after you have learned some new concepts, it won’t take long at all for you to get ready for an exam. Now that sounds really good, doesn’t it?

            More to Help You Learn Quicker

            Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

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