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How I Managed to Out-Learn the Competition

How I Managed to Out-Learn the Competition

How I managed to out-learn the competition

    In my family, people read a lot. While my mother reads fiction (mostly thrillers), my father reads business books (lots of them).

    Growing up, I was always fascinated by the effort and energy that my father put into underlining anything in books, reports or magazines that could be relevant to his work. It’s hard to imagine how much work that is but, to give a rough estimate, their basement is nothing but bookshelves, boxes and filing cabinets filled with knowledge.

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    While fascinated by the process, I was also very skeptical. Not only was it taking the fun out of reading, it was also taking him a good hour everytime he wanted to show you something…

    As my father kept underlining (and still does), I joined the workforce, had ups and downs for years until I decided to quit and start my own thing.

    Now, with starting your own business comes the opportunity to create your own rules and experiments. So, to address this problem, here’s what I did:

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    1. I realized that de-centralized nuggets of knowledge weren’t searchable or worth maintaining.
    2. I created a simple Word document (probably works with another text processor ;).
    3. I systematically took note of every new thing that I learned.
    4. I reviewed the list every month. Combining, improving and adding elements as I went through it.

    Simple no? Here’s what it did:

    • It created a repository of knowledge that freed me to learn, knowing that I’m building on something solid.
    • It created a list of objective insights that I could revisit, learning new things at every read.
    • It allowed me to monitor my evolution and find out when I’m learning and when I’m not (gotta keep learning!).
    • It allowed me to keep track of who taught me what at what time.

    Learning by Sharing

    I started this experiment 3 years ago. Over these 3 years, the list grew quite a bit with now close to 500 insights on topics as varied as business financing and relationships. It’s not only a who’s who list of famous insights; it also contains original thoughts and things everyday people have taught me.

    Sitting on so much information led me to start blogging again. Through blogging, I’ve come to realize that, not only can we learn through peoples’ interpretations of our writing but, the process of thinking through these simple insights generated many many new ideas.

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    Out-Learning the Competition

    It’s very easy to buy all the bestselling business books and read everything novel that comes up on Twitter or your favorite blogs but, your competitors probably do the same and… this will only lead to information overload.

    The real goal with knowledge – and where you can out-learn your competitors – is to internalize learnings and let things you learn change you. After all, you can know the name of all the tools in the shed but, if you’ve never learned to use any of them, your knowledge isn’t worth very much.

    By actively seeking opportunities to learn, absorb and reinterpret knowledge, you build the thinking that will allow you to out-learn and, eventually, out-teach your competitors.

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    Make sure you have the best learning process in your market. Reading is only half the battle.

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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