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The Faster You Learn, the Easier You’ll Fall Behind

The Faster You Learn, the Easier You’ll Fall Behind

Garry Kasparov is a chess grandmaster – and also a former world chess champion. Over the last few decades, he’s beaten hundreds of first-class chess players. It’s no surprise then, that many people consider Kasparov to be one of the greatest chess players of all time.

However, in 1997, Kasparov lost a game of chess to a computer. A year earlier, he had played against IBM’s Deep Blue chess computer and defeated it. But the computer was to have its revenge, as just one year later, when the rematch took place, Deep Blue defeated Kasparov.

    Over the next few years, humans and computers traded chess moves and blows. Fast-forward to 2017, and the picture is crystal clear: today’s best chess programs can easily beat the world’s best human chess players.[1]

    As the Kasparov story demonstrates, even the world’s top players – who practiced a lot – can end up losing.

    Now consider your friends, family and colleagues. How many of these people think they’re doing well in what they do? And how many think they are doing better than the average and have stopped looking for ways to improve themselves? The answer is, a lot.

    Why Learning Can Lead to Stagnation

    When people learn well – they pick up knowledge and quickly become skillful. And the smarter the people, the easier they pick up knowledge, and the easier and faster they become very good at something.

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    These types of individuals find learning effortless, and therefore, they pick up knowledge and skills much better than the average person.

    Take a look at the picture below. The tool in their hand represents the skill they have learned, and the cloud is the level they are currently on – in this case ground level.

      When these learners become knowers, they believe that they know what they’ve learned extremely well. This may be the case, but in reality, they’re already better than average. Because of this, they are unlikely to find anyone who can surpass them. It’s at this point that they may think to themselves, “I’m good enough” and “there’s no need for me learn anything more.”

        As I’ll show in the next few paragraphs, people’s egos can stop them from learning and improving themselves.

        For example, let’s take a look at an expert pianist. They can perform proficiently because of their hard work and practice that they’ve put in over the course of many years. To help them, they may have had a tutor who developed their skills and brought out their talent.

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        The consistent tutoring and practicing led them to become an accomplished pianist – one who regularly performs paid concerts in front of decent-sized audiences. However, their success has led them to believe that they don’t need to make any further changes or improvements to their musical skills.

          When experts stop learning – they start to fall behind. This is because others will keep improving, and eventually get ahead of them.

          The world is constantly changing, so sticking to the same way to practice (and failing to improve) will lead to people dropping the ball. A recent study predicted that one in five U.K. employees are under threat of losing their jobs to automation. A person who’s comfortable in their job today, may find themselves replaced by a computer or robot tomorrow. If this prediction comes true, millions of people will soon find themselves out of work.[2] This is a real life example of how people can fall behind when they stop learning and improving themselves.

          Clearly, any experts who stop learning and improving, will be replaced by those who keep learning – whether these are humans or machines.

            When You Think You’ve Learned Enough, You Fall Behind

            The cloud depicted in the visuals isn’t concrete, and it’s prone to fall and disappear any time when you stop paying attention to your own learning and development.

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            Everyone, no matter how good they believe themselves to be at something, should never stop learning. Reaching an ‘acceptable’ performance only means that you’re doing okay. It doesn’t mean that you’re doing it to the best of your ability or potential.

            As I stated earlier (but well worth repeating again)… When you stop learning, you’re falling behind.

              Push Yourself to Reach New Heights

              To keep ahead of your competitors, you need to keep learning and practicing. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean doing things in the same way. You may need to step outside of your comfort zone in order to improve.

                Do what you can’t

                When you think you’re doing something well enough, find what you can’t do – and then do it! Here are four key things to remember about pushing your boundaries:

                1. If you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you will never improve.
                2. Getting out of your comfort zone means trying to do something that you couldn’t do before.
                3. Sometimes you’ll run into something that stops you in your tracks. Find ways around these hurdles by focusing on improving your skills and knowledge, and then practicing them until you become proficient.
                4. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You may need to try different ways to make things happen.

                Set yourself specific goals as you practice

                People who achieve great things set themselves definite goals. And I highly recommend that you do the same.

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                One great way to do this is to follow the SMART and Stretch goal methods, which will help you set a big goal, while at the same time giving you baby steps on how to reach it. When SMART and Stretch goals are combined, your goal setting will have genuine purpose and power. You’ll be motivated by the giant goal, while having confidence in the small, incremental steps that will lead you there.

                Find out more about goals setting in my other article: How to Get Bigger Things Done in the Coming Year

                Along the way, you need to get feedback to help you improve

                It goes without saying that to make progress, you’ll need feedback to identify exactly where and how you are falling short. This feedback can be from yourself or from outside observers (e.g., your audience, your mentor, your peers).

                Do you know why computers can beat humans at chess after those times they’ve lost against them? The answer is, that people who program the computers have learned through all the steps humans have performed. They also gathered valuable feedback through their computers losing against some competitors. The programmers pick up the clues and change the way the computers perform in their next matches.

                Learning Should Never Come to an End

                When we’re young we naturally crave learning. We constantly seek out new knowledge, skills and experiences. However, as we mature, there’s a tendency for us to stop learning new things.

                If this happens, you can be sure that stagnation is just around the corner. And as nature shows, nothing (even stagnation) stays the same for long. Things are either building up – or breaking down.

                To avoid the latter, you must maintain a positive outlook that embraces big goals and constant learning. By doing these things, you’ll stay fresh, lively and ahead of the pack of hyenas snapping at your heels!

                Reference

                More by this author

                Leon Ho

                Founder & CEO of Lifehack

                How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter How to Stop Bad Habits: 9 Scientifically Proven Methods 13 Ways to Be More Eager to Learn and Succeed in Life

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                Last Updated on November 5, 2019

                7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now

                7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now

                Have you ever heard the question, “what would you do if money was not a factor?” It is one of those questions that people often brush aside, because quite frankly, money is a factor. The doubters will mock you as naive or foolish, but deep down you know it is possible to start living your dream life. You know there is more to life than working and paying bills.

                It seems as though most people are just trying to get by. They work because they need to make an income to support their life.

                People not only settle in the workplace, but also in their relationships with their friends and family. You may even know people who settle by compromising their integrity and core values.

                That is why it is not naive or foolish to start living your dream life, it is essential.

                Living your dream life is more than being rich, it is the belief that you are living a life aligned with your purpose. If you are ready to free yourself of the fears that cause you to live your life according to the expectations of others, then follow the below 7 steps found in the book – Champion of Change, the 7 Instrumental Laws of Change:

                1. Construct a Plan of Action

                The foundation for you to create your dream life is for you to take the time and visualize what that life will look like.

                This is more than the normal vision board you may have heard before. This form of visualization requires you to use all your senses. Olympians are well-known for their visualization practices as they prepare for competition. The reason they do this is because everyone is very talented by the mere accomplishment of qualifying for the Olympics.

                To gain an edge, Olympians will visualize themselves competing in their actual event. Emily Cook, of the United States free style ski team is quoted as saying she engaged all her senses in her visualization. She moves her body as if she is skiing down the slopes, she feels the air as it blows through her hair, and she hears the roar of the crowd as she crosses the finish line.[1]

                Olympians visualize in such detail because they understand they only have one opportunity every four years to compete. The best way they can be ready for the moment is by continually competing in their mind. Studies support this belief as they show you can literally gain muscle by visualizing yourself working out [2]

                2. Focus Your Attention

                If you want to start living your dream life right now, you are going to need to adjust the way you see the world. Your beliefs create your consciousness, and your consciousness creates your reality, and your reality is maintained by the way your mind filters information.

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                Everyday, you receive millions of sensory inputs and your mind filters out most of them to keep you from going crazy. The ones you receive are the ones that your mind believes matter to you based on past experiences.

                One of the most popular examples is when you purchase a new car. As soon as you purchase that car, suddenly you notice that car everywhere. Now you probably know that everyone did not purchase the car the same day as you, but what happened?

                Well, when you purchased your new car, you told your mind ,”this car matters to me”. As a result, your mind is now showing you the car that has always been there.

                Your mind blocks out most of the stuff that is going on while you are driving to help you stay sane. Imagine if you were consciously aware of every line, tree, car, deer, squirrel, reflector and sign while driving.

                The same way your mind can adjust your filters based on the action of purchasing a new car, you can take actions to create your dream life. As you take action, your mind will show you new opportunities that were always there (just outside of your previous filters).

                  Learn more about how to focus here: How to Improve Focus: 7 Ways to Train Your Brain

                  3. Put the Systems and Processes in Place

                  Once you have the proper mindset to start living your dream life, you are ready to shift your focus to maintaining your early wins.

                  The mistake most people make is they are excited in the early going, but they are working solely off discipline and willpower. Your willpower and discipline are exhaustible resources that will fade over time. That is why most people quit their New Year’s Resolution 30-days after starting. That is also why people who are on a diet will make nutritious decisions throughout the day, and fail miserably late at night.

                  Each time you withstood the tempting call of sweets, the likelihood of you withstanding another call decreased.

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                  This is why it is so important that you put systems and processes in place that limit the need for you to use discipline and willpower. In the case of our dieter, it would be better for them to trash all the candy they no longer want to eat.

                  The reason is simple:

                  Whatever food that is in your house, you are going to eat at some time or another. The only way to truly ensure you will not eat the candy is to throw it away.

                  This is also true when it comes to you and your dream life. If you want to ensure that you follow through on your vision, you have to be willing to limit the ability for you to revert back to your previous life.

                  If you want to stop relying on your willpower and start making things happen, these tips will help: How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop

                  4. Accountability Is a Must

                  When you are accountable to someone or a group, you will find yourself more motivated to continue. Deep down, we all want to be accepted by others. Even though this can work against you sometimes, this particular occasion is not one of them.

                  When you proclaim your goal to other people, it improves the likelihood of you following through.

                  You may be surprised to know, but you experience accountability on a regular basis.

                  • If the CEO asks you to provide a report, you are going to make the best report of your life. You understand the opportunity and value of making a good impression with the CEO.
                  • Now imagine if your coworker asked for the report. Will there be a difference in quality?
                  • How about if you were going to a class reunion? Would that improve your commitment to get in shape?
                  • Even when you know you are going to have company over at your house, you are going to clean better than if you knew no one was coming.

                  Accountability works because you want to keep your word and make a good impression of yourself in front of others.

                  5. Catalyst for Change

                  There are things you can control and things that you cannot control in life. Do not allow the fear of failure or fear of uncertainty keep you from living your dream life. Everything is not going to go smoothly on your journey. You are going to face challenges and setbacks.

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                  The good news is failure is a part of success. They are two halves of the same coin. What tends to happen is people spend so much time trying to avoid failure, that they never realize they are undermining their ability to find success.

                  By understanding that failure is a part of success, you understand your goal is not to avoid failure, but to build on it: 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

                  Your dream life does not necessarily need a positive event to start. Oftentimes, it is the negative events (or perceived negative) and a sense of desperation that drives people to reach further than they ever have before.

                  Your catalyst for change may be exactly what you wanted or it may be the worst thing that could have happened. Either way, your focus is on what to do next. You want to build on that event by stacking positive events on top of it.

                  Positive events are anything that move you closer to your goal. In your case, anything that moves you closer to your dream life. Whether you quit your job or your boss fired you, it is all about what you are going to do next.

                  Choose to respond to each situation by taking another step towards your dream life.

                  6. Character Matters

                  In a study between two schools on opposite ends of the economic spectrum, positive psychology experts created a list of character strengths they believed essential to success.

                  Their list included grit, self-control, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, and curiosity.

                  Some of the character traits were common with how most people view success; such as grit, curiosity or self-control. However, gratitude, zest, optimism, and social intelligence (compassion) were on the list, but their relation to success is often overlooked.[3]

                  It is important to remember that change comes from the inside-out. Your core values are the prism through which you accomplish your goals.

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                  7. Muster up the Courage

                  Once you have completed the first six steps, you have everything you need to start living your dream life.

                  Do not allow yourself to procrastinate on your transformation. The fear of change may disguise itself as a thoughtful plan to wait for more information or better timing.

                  Keep in mind that you are not looking for the perfect situation, you are only looking to start. One you get started, you are going to be better equipped to make any changes.

                  I often compare starting your journey like walking through a fog. If you stand on the outside of the fog trying to see to the other side, you are going to find it very difficult. But if you are willing take the first few steps, you are going to realize that you can see a few more steps into the fog.

                  If you are willing to continue walking, before you know it, you can see clearly because the fog is behind you.

                  You have an idea of what your dream life looks like and you have an idea of the effort it is going to take to make it happen. However, you do not really know how realistic your expectations are until you experience it.

                  Final Thoughts

                  There is a lot of work that goes into living your dream life, but you will find it well worth your time.

                  Most people regret the things they did not do more than anything they have ever done. Therefore, do not settle for a life that is less than your dream life. Pursue your dream life with effort and resolve.

                  More About Living Your Dream Life

                  Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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