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10 Things To Learn From History’s Best Learners

10 Things To Learn From History’s Best Learners

Throughout history, and even in the modern era, there are individuals who have “cracked the learning code” and made breakthroughs by understanding (and acting on) things that others could not.

Here are 10 things we can learn from them:

1. They are permanently curious: Neil deGrasse Tyson

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    “No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.”
    ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

    In science, curiosity is what leads to breakthroughs. And in everyday life, curiosity is a key ingredient to inspire learning, when it might be easier to just get on with your day. deGrasse Tyson’s curiosity was activated early in life, initiating a life-long study of astronomy after visiting the Hayden Planetarium at age 9, and now spreads that curiosity to millions of followers on one of the most interesting Twitter feeds around.

    What can you get curious about?

    2. They invest in themselves: Ben Franklin

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      “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
      ~ Ben Franklin

      Though his actual schooling ended at age 10, Franklin went on to be known as one of the most prolific polymaths of his era, constantly feeding his appetite for new knowledge through voracious reading in a wide array of different areas. This led to innovation and breakthroughs in printing, politics, science, engineering, activism, and of course the whole founding of the United States thing.

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      While you might not have time to become an expert in artificial intelligence, regenerative medicine, and renewable energy, just remember to keep investing in yourself by adding something to your knowledge bank each day.

      3. They transcend traditional education: Albert Einstein

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        “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”
        ~ Albert Einstein

        Einstein was famous for being a poor student. Even after his schooling, he took a menial job at the Swiss Patent Office because no one would consider him for a teaching position at a university. What he showed, more than anything else, is that brilliant discoveries transcend the bounds of what we typically consider “learning” and “education.”

        The key is this: if you want to learn about something, say physics, you don’t have to pick up a physics textbook. Instead go outside and observe nature, watch a documentary, read about the life of famous physicists – inspiration and true knowledge don’t come from the classroom.

        4. They teach themselves: Elon Musk

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          Everyone knows the famed billionaire founder of Zip2, Paypal, Tesla, and Space X. But how did he get there?

          One of the keys to Elon’s success has been the consistent ability to teach himself whatever he needed to know to build useful stuff. In fact, he started way back when he was 12 years old, and taught himself computer programming, building a computer game called Blastar, which sold for $500. That trend has continued, starting both Tesla and Space X with virtually no previous experience in automotive or aerospace engineering.

          So think about something you’d love to achieve. What skills and knowledge would you need to get there? Could you teach yourself?

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          5. They consider alternative viewpoints: Aristotle

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            “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
            ~ Aristotle

            How many people do you know who are staunch conservatives or bleeding-heart liberals? According to Aristotle, the father of modern science and political thought strongly-held beliefs like these are the enemy of productive discourse and progress. His philosophy: the answer to most problems lies in the synthesis of two opposing thoughts.

            So the next time you’re sure you know something, whether it be about diet, climate change, or politics, research the opposing viewpoint and consider it objectively. Then, and only then, make your decision on what’s correct.

            6. They get obsessed: Bill Gates

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              When Gates went to high school, he was already deep into programming computers, going so far as to study the source code for programs like Fortran, Lisp, and machine language. Soon after, he was hired by Information Sciences, Inc. to write a payroll program, and was commissioned by his school to write a computer program to schedule students in classes.

              “It was hard to tear myself away from a machine at which I could so unambiguously demonstrate success.”
              ~ Bill Gates

              Bottom line: Gates got obsessed, and kept taking that obsession deeper and deeper. And soon he found himself creating an industry. Get obsessed with something.

              7. They learn for the sake of learning: Stephen Hawking

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                “No one undertakes research in physics with the intention of winning a prize. It is the joy of discovering something no one knew before.”
                ~ Stephen Hawking

                Much of our learning life is consumed with building a skill set or earning this or that certification. But whatever happened to learning for the sake of learning. Famed physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking contends that truly meaningful discovery in science comes not out of a specific objective, but out of genuine enjoyment for discovering something novel.

                Think about this the next time you pursue learning something: are you doing it just for the credential, or do you truly enjoy the learning process?

                8. They attach enjoyment and wonder to new knowledge: Carl Sagan

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                  “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
                  ~ Carl Sagan

                  Sagan was one of the first to truly introduce the public to the wonders of science with his Cosmos series back in 1980. And in addition to his hundreds of publications, he was an unrelenting advocate of advancement in the exploration of space. It’s inspiring to just listen to him speak about the wonders of the universe. His drive to discover came from a sense of wonder about the beauty and magnificence of nature.

                  If you find enjoyment in something, you can uncover a boundless source of energy for learning more and more about it. What inspires you to learn?

                  9. They commit to learning for life: Mahatma Gandhi

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                    “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
                    ~ Mahatma Gandhi

                    Gandhi was the utmost example of living in consistency with his beliefs. Part of that was an unyielding commitment to considering all alternatives, and keeping an open mind – continuously testing different approaches to religion, politics, activism, and even diet.

                    What we can all learn from him, is that keeping an open mind and participating in continuous, life-long learning is a practice worth adhering to.

                    10. They work tirelessly at building new knowledge: Thomas Edison

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                      “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
                      ~ Thomas Edison

                      Edison is famous for his devotion to hard work. Everyone knows about his 10,000 failed lightbulb experiments, but it wasn’t simply an obsession with one invention – he applied the same principles to everything he did. And in the end built a laundry list of inventions, and an entire power distribution industry.

                      Edison reminds us that it’s not enough to be clever and it’s not enough to be correct. You have to put in the hard work, day after day. But in the end, the results always come.

                      Featured photo credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via flickr.com

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                      7 Reasons You Won’t Start Studying Until It’s Too Late, And What To Do About It The 3 Things Elon Musk Knows About School That All Students Should Copy 10 Ways for Students to Crush It Next Semester 20 Funny Things Everyone Can Do Every Day to Get Smarter 10 counterintuitive quotes on learning that will make you a better student

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                      Last Updated on September 20, 2018

                      8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                      8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                      You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

                      Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

                      When you train your brain, you will:

                      • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
                      • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
                      • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

                      So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

                      1. Work your memory

                      Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

                      When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

                      If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

                      The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

                      Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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                      Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

                      What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

                      For example, say you just met someone new:

                      “Hi, my name is George”

                      Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

                      Got it? Good.

                      2. Do something different repeatedly

                      By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

                      Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

                      It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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                      And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

                      But how does this apply to your life right now?

                      Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

                      Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

                      Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

                      So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

                      You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

                      That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

                      3. Learn something new

                      It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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                      For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

                      Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

                      You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

                      4. Follow a brain training program

                      The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

                      5. Work your body

                      You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

                      Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

                      Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

                      Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

                      6. Spend time with your loved ones

                      If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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                      If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

                      I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

                      7. Avoid crossword puzzles

                      Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

                      Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

                      Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

                      8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

                      Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

                      When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

                      So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

                      The bottom line

                      Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

                      Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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