Advertising
Advertising

Published on January 28, 2020

10 Remarkable Traits of Successful Learners

10 Remarkable Traits of Successful Learners

If you look around, you’ll notice one key trait in all self-made people; they are successful learners who understand what they’re doing in life.

These people are masters at the art of learning. Before initiating a project, they make sure they understand what they’re getting themselves into and this trait alone helps them avoid dozens of hurdles in the way.

But in order to be a successful learner, there are a lot of other traits that you’ll need to develop.

You see, learning is a multi-factorial trait that’s influenced by a number of factors and habits.

In order to become a successful learner, here are a few traits that you need to inculcate in yourself.

1. Persistence

Successful learners understand that learning takes time. For them, persistence is the key to success because nothing worth learning is learned in a day or two.

As an individual, I believe that the lack of persistence is what holds most people from achieving greatness.

Almost everyone has grand ideas and ambitions in life. But only a handful of people manage to accomplish their set goals and targets because others usually don’t put in the amount of work needed to achieve their goal.

I say this a lot:

When it comes to dreams, most people are just in love with the final product and not the process.

Successful people, on the other hand, are in love with both.

Advertising

2. Patience

Persistence and patience often go hand-in-hand. And successful learners are masters of both.

With that said, there’s some difference between both these terms.

Persistence is usually for the known while patience comes in handy when the unknown strikes.

Allow me to explain:

When you plan ahead and work consistently on it, that’s persistence. In this case, you’re continuously working towards your goal and following the set plan or layout.

However, patience is tested when that plan unknowingly fails or experiences a hurdle. That’s when there’s a huge chance of people backing out.

But successful learners practice patience and take their time to work past problems.

A good way to build patience is to accept that your plan or projection is bound to show deviations and discrepancies.

People who can’t accept the fact that their plans could fail are the ones who fail the most. Successful learners avoid that problem by expecting their plan to not work out exactly the way it’s supposed to.

3. Conceptual Learning

Successful learners believe in understanding and grasping concepts instead of rote learning.

A lot of successful people are of the view that grades aren’t important. That’s because what matters is your understanding of the concept, not the final grade that you get.

Advertising

In real life, the concept is what helps you to apply your learning and get something out of it. That’s why successful learners spend more time building and strengthening their concepts than they do on rote learning.

4. Strong Memory

Sure, concepts are important. But there’s a lot of stuff that needs to be memorized after building a strong concept.

There are other things like language that require minimal concept and maximum memorization. That’s why successful learners have a strong memory and that’s something they spend a lot of time working on. In fact, you may find brain and memory games on their phone as they spend ample time working on their retaining ability.

5. Leading Abilities

Successful learners are often important people in social gatherings. That’s because people recognize them as learned individuals that need to be respected on the basis of their knowledge. Often, that knowledge results in an influx of wealth that further helps in improving the social status of these individuals.

All these factors add up to create a personality that’s a leader by nature. It’s like their aura has a magnetic effect that pulls others around it.

Now the thing about this trait is that it often isn’t acquired directly. It’s not like successful learners learn to lead. It happens at a subconscious level often as a secondary output of their learning ability.

6. Discerning Valuable from the Useless

When I went into college, I was right-out intimidated by the size of the books we had to study. And for a while, this used to bother me because I was under the impression that we had to study each and every word of those books.

But as time progressed, I realized that merely 40% of the book was enough to get me 80% of the grades. Essentially, that 40% was the valuable part of those books that I needed to focus on before I decided to work on anything else.

This is similar to the Pareto’s Principle, otherwise known as the 80-20 principle which suggests that 80% of the outcome comes from 20% of the effort.[1]

By focusing on the parts of books that mattered the most, I wasn’t just able to score good grades but it also allowed me to distribute my time to other activities. I would study, get good grades, maintain a social life and work on any side projects that I wanted.

Most people thought that I’m awfully lucky or gifted, but the secret behind all of this was simply the ability to discern valuable from the useless.

Advertising

If that’s something that you want to learn, I’d urge you to look around yourself and see what sort of learning activities or topics take most of your time but are of least importance for your goal, be it getting a good grade or succeeding at your business venture. If the task doesn’t contribute to your goal, it’s not worth spending your time on.

7. Bold Attitude

Successful learning requires a bold attitude.

I know it sounds absurd. But not everyone has the courage to learn everything.

A lot of people are intimidated by the time and effort required to learn a skill or a subject. And that intimidation holds them back from even taking that first step. They look at the mountain worth of input required and avoid the whole task in itself.

As I mentioned above, nothing worth learning is learned in a day or two; and successful learners understand that. To excel in their field, they take on a bold attitude that embraces hardship and uncertainty.

8. Questioning

The key to effective learning is to question the matter. In fact, a recent study showed that elaborative interrogation (or self-questioning) is a useful learning method.[2]

By questioning yourself and your logic, you’ll uncover aspects of the topic that you didn’t even know existed.

What’s more, you’ll notice that by questioning while you learn, you’ll be able to look at the concept from a variety of angles and point-of-views which will help you attain perspective.

In order to use this technique, set aside some extra time to ponder and question yourself about what you’re trying to learn.

When you do that, go into specifics and ask yourself questions that you probably don’t know the answer to. You’ll be surprised to notice that most answers just pop into your head once you actually question yourself.

9. Following Routines

In a world full of distractions, managing one’s time is one of the most useful techniques to learn.

Advertising

And when it comes to time management, there’s nothing better than the good’ol daily routine.

Almost all of us have a mental to-do list in our heads as we go about our day. However, what a lot of us lack is a routine and a priority order for that list.

Successful learners, however, are great at creating and following routines that help them maximize their learning and implement it in daily life.

Another aspect to consider here is that this ability of following routines stems from high self-discipline. A lot of people are great at creating routines, just not so much at following them. And that’s all that matters.

Take a look at these Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You.

10. Sticking to Their Learning Style

There are many different types of learners in society. Some people learn best by listening while others write things down. Then there are individuals that like to have a hands-on learning experience.

The thing about successful learners is that they know what sort of learning style works best for them. This allows them to focus their learning methodology according to their preferred style so they can maximize their learning.

If you’re unaware of the major learning styles, here are a few:

  1. Visual Learners
  2. Auditory Learners
  3. Reading/Writing Learners
  4. Kinesthetic (hands-on) Learners

As soon as you know how you learn and the best way to learn, you can better retain information more effectively.

So here you are, 10 things you can learn from the successful learners in order to become a faster and smarter learner.

More on Learning Fast

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

35 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2020 Updated) 7 Tips for Overcoming Challenges in Life Like a Pro What Should Be Your End Goal In Life Above All Else? Fail Forward: How Setbacks Can Fuel Future Success 25 Best Audiobooks to Make the Most of Your Commute

Trending in Learning

1 A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process 2 12 Learning Strategies to Help You Retain Information Fast 3 How to Become an Intentional Learner for Never-Ending Growth 4 7 Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner 5 How Do Memory Vitamins Work? (And the Best Brain Supplements)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 24, 2020

A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

One of the most crucial aspects of our lives is the ability to learn. We often take this skill for granted since not many of us pause and think about our learning process. In fact, if we did, we would probably uncover that we engage in ineffective learning mechanisms.

Think about it. Has your learning helped you recall things you learned last month? Go back a year and ponder.

A lot of how we learn was tucked away in school. Our exposure to school learning is the basis of how we learn moving forward. However, over the past few decades, learning has evolved into different stages of learning, and that becomes the main issue.

No longer are we looking at examinations of people’s characteristics about understanding and learning. Instead, scholars have created learning processes that use materials that support our interactions with others and our goals.

As a result, we can learn new things more smartly and effectively – which will be covered as we proceed further in understanding the learning process.

The Essential Steps of the Learning Process

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell states that the key to success is for us to practice 10,000 hours on a specific skill. It’s also worth noting that the skill needs the correct learning direction. If you’re learning how to do something the wrong way, you’ll continue to use it the wrong way.

But before understanding the learning process, we must understand the stages of learning. Written in the 1970s, Noel Burch created a model called the Four Stages of Learning. [1]

From there, we can use the stages of learning as a basis for how to learn effectively.

1. Unconscious Incompetence

Think of a skill that you are good at and that you use every single day.

Now think back to when you first developed that skill. Were you good at it? Probably not.

Advertising

You never heard of the skill or had a desire to learn of it until that point. This is the first stage: You know nothing about it.

2. Conscious Incompetence

Once you have heard of the skill, you begin to delve into it.

Driving a car is a perfect example. Before this stage, you never felt the need to learn how to drive. Nevertheless, once you became of legal age, you had to study to get your license. You likely made several mistakes on the driving test as well as during the written test.

This is the stage where you feel learning is slow, and you’re also aware of your mistakes.

3. Conscious Competence

By this stage, you know pretty much everything you need to know. At the same time, though, you are also aware that you need to focus and concentrate on what you are doing.

This stage can be that you know the rules of the road and can drive well. However, you feel you can’t talk to anyone, play any music, or look away from the road. You feel like you need total silence to focus and concentrate on driving.

At this stage, learning can be even slower than the previous stages. The learning isn’t consistent, nor is it a habit yet.

4. Unconscious Competence

By this stage, you’ve made it. You know everything in and out about the skill. It’s become a habit, and you don’t need to concentrate. You can relax and let your unconscious mind take over.

Exceeding the 4 Stages: Flow/Mastery

While Burch only covered four stages, there is another stage that exceeds it. This is the flow or mastery stage.

You may have heard of something called a flow state. [2] It’s the mental state where someone is performing an activity and is fully immersed in it. They feel energized, focused, and get a sense of joy from doing this activity.

Advertising

Flow or mastery can stem from all kinds of activities like Writing, reading, jogging, biking, figure skating, and more. It’s also characterized as complete absorption in what you’re doing, making you unaware of space and time.

Different Types of Learning Process

Another aspect of the learning process is the types of learning. While every person goes through those stages of learning, how we learn is different.

Having covered four learning styles in 4 Learning Styles to Help You Learn Faster and Smarter, I’m recapping the different types of learning in psychology.

Psychiatrists have narrowed how we learn down to seven learning styles as below:

  • Visual (spatial): Learning through pictures, graphs, charts, etc.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): Learning through sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): Learning through spoken or written words.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): Learning through the body, hands, and a sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): Learning through logic, systems, and reasons.
  • Social (interpersonal): Learning through groups or talking to people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): Learning individually through self-study or individual assignments.

You may be asking why all of this matters and actually how we learn plays a significant role. How we internally represent experiences stems from how we learn. What we learn not only establishes how we recall information but also impacts our own word choice.

It also influences which part of our brain we use for learning. Researchers uncovered this through various experiments.[3]

For example, say you’re driving to a place you’ve never gone before. How you learn will determine which method of learning you’ll use. Some will ask people for directions, while others will pull up Google maps. Some will write the directions out, while some won’t and merely follow street signs.

Knowing how to learn to this depth is vital because once you know what style you use, you can then develop a learning process to be a more effective learner.

How To Become an Effective Learner?

The learning process varies from person to person. Generally speaking, though, consider the following steps and considerations:

1. Improve Your Memory

Learning doesn’t only require that we learn information, but to retain it. If we are to learn something, we will have to learn and relearn. This means recalling and having a sharp memory to keep that information.

Advertising

Improving our memory can range from a variety of things. From memory palaces to practicing other memory improvement tactics.

2. Keep Learning and Practicing New Things

Learning a new skill takes time, but there is nothing wrong with learning a few other things. International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training[4] reported that those who juggled between learning different topics increase their gray matter which is associated with visual memory

3. Learn in Many Ways

While we have our own go-to style, delving into other types and stages of learning can be useful. If you learn by listening to podcasts, why not try rehearsing information verbally or visually?

It will not start great, but by improving your skill to describe what you learned orally, you are further cementing the knowledge in your mind.

Judy Willis MD, M.Ed in her publication on Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success[5] states how the more regions we keep data stored, the more interconnection there is in the collection information that we later process.

4. Teaching What You Learned to Others

It doesn’t have to be in a tutoring situation, but this method is still a reliable way for two people to grow.

Regardless of learning styles, we retain the information we tell others more effectively than if we keep it to ourselves. Was there a random fact you told someone a few months ago? You are more likely to remember that information because you brought it up to someone.

5. Use Relational Learning

Relational learning is relating new information to things you already know.

A typical example of this is remembering someone’s name. You can better recall that person’s name if you associate that name to something or someone familiar.

6. Gaining Practical Experience

Nothing beats learning than trying it for yourself. Sure, seeing information does have its strong points -and most learning styles benefit from exposed information – there is something to be said about getting your “hands dirty.”

Advertising

7. Refer Back to past Info If Need Be

The learning process is not perfect. We’ll forget at certain points. If you ever struggle to remember something, make a point of going back to your notes.

This is key because if we try recalling, we risk ourselves learning or relearning the wrong answer. And again, there is a difference between learning the right way and the wrong way.

8. Test Yourself

While this step may seem odd, there are benefits to testing yourself. Even if you think you know everything about the topic, going back and testing yourself can always help.

Not only does testing improve our recall, but we may realize that we learned a concept or task incorrectly. That knowledge can enhance our effectiveness in the future.

9. Stop Multitasking

While we should be learning new things all the time, we shouldn’t be trying to do several tasks at once. We ought to focus on one activity at a time before moving onto other tasks.

By trying to multitask, we are learning less effectively and are only hindering ourselves. Check out how multitasking is merely another way of distracting ourselves.

Bottom Line

Psychologists define learning as the process of a permanent change in a person’s behavior resulting from experience. The understanding of the learning process is up to us, but do consider the bigger picture. Be aware of what style works best for you, and work to improve it while enhancing other learning styles. The only way we can advance a skill is to learn continuously. Even in the skills you have mastered, there are always new developments.

You can learn more about how you can cultivate lifelong learning and attain an edge in every niche that you get associated with today!

Featured photo credit: Aliis Sinisalu via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Gordon Training International: The Four Stages of Competence
[2] Habits for Wellbeing: Flow: the Secret to Happiness: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
[3] Training Industry: How the Brain Learns
[4] International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training
[5] Judy Willis MD, M.Ed: Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success

Read Next