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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

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                Last Updated on July 16, 2019

                50+ Best Motivational Quotes To Overcome Life’s Challenges

                50+ Best Motivational Quotes To Overcome Life’s Challenges

                Life is filled with highs and lows —happiness and struggles that will test your resilience and integrity, push you to overcome challenges and leave you with lessons that will make you even stronger on your way up.

                It’s the way you feel and think about yourself, including your expectations and beliefs about what is possible to you, greatly determines everything that happens to you.

                It all starts with your thoughts. When you change your thoughts, you transform the quality of your life. (Nancy’s story is a typical example of this.)

                Below is a list of the best motivational quotes to inspire you to start your day with a blast:

                Quotes for Self-Assurance

                1. Don’t downgrade your dream just to fit your reality, upgrade your conviction to match your destiny.

                  2. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.

                    3. You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.

                      4. The man who has confidence in himself gains the confidence of others

                        5. You attract what you are, not what you want. If you want great, then be great.

                          6. It’s not who you are that holds you behind, it’s who you think your are not.

                            Quotes about Positivity

                            7. Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and think of what could go right.

                              8. You should never regret anything in life. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it is experience.

                                9. Falling down is an accident, staying down is a choice.

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                                  10. If you have the power to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that.

                                    11. Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.

                                      12. Don’t be afraid to give up the good and go for great.

                                        13. Remember that life’s greatest lessons are usually learned from worst times and from the worst mistakes.

                                          Quotes for Work and Success

                                          14. Don’t talk, just act. Don’t say, just show. Don’t promise, just prove.

                                            15. Never stop doing great just because someone doesn’t give you credit.

                                              16. Discipline is doing what needs to be done, even if you don’t want to.

                                                17. Work while they sleep. Learn while they party. Save while they spend. Live like they dream.

                                                  18. The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire, not things we fear.

                                                    19. Never apologize for having high standards, people who really want to be in your life will rise to meet them.

                                                      20. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.

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                                                        21. Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it, time will pass anyway.

                                                          22. Don’t fear failure. Fear being in the exact same place next year as you are today.

                                                            23. A hill is just another opportunity to leave your competition behind.

                                                              24. Don’t quit. You’re already in pain. You’re already hurt. Get a reward from it.

                                                                25. Hustle until you no longer need to introduce yourself.

                                                                  26. You didn’t come this far only to come this far.

                                                                    27. Be selective in your battles for sometimes peace is better than being right.

                                                                      28 If we keep doing what we are doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting.

                                                                        29. You will never know your limits until you push yourself to them.

                                                                          30. Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.

                                                                            31. The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.

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                                                                              32. If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.

                                                                                33. If you can’t handle stress, you won’t manage success.

                                                                                  34. Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams.

                                                                                    35. Don’t mistake silence for weakness. Smart people don’t plan big moves out loud.

                                                                                      36. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

                                                                                        37. Obsessed is the word the lazy use to describe dedicated.

                                                                                          38. You become who you spend your time with.

                                                                                            39. Be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods.

                                                                                              40. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

                                                                                                41. If you don’t build your dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs.

                                                                                                  42. Between stimulus and response is our greatest power –the freedom to choose.

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                                                                                                    43. What comes easy won’t last, what lasts won’t come easy.

                                                                                                      44. Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits.

                                                                                                        45. Work until your idols become your rivals.

                                                                                                          Quotes about Money

                                                                                                          46. Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.

                                                                                                            47. I create new enemies every day, it’s called business.

                                                                                                              48. When you have a Million Dollar vision, don’t surround yourself with 1 cent minds.

                                                                                                                49. You can’t get rich thinking poor.

                                                                                                                  50. Doing what is comfortable is rarely profitable.

                                                                                                                    51. If you can count your money, work harder.

                                                                                                                      If you find yourself feeling lost and frustrated, it’s never too late to change things up. Check out this guide:

                                                                                                                      How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

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