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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 November 18, 2019

                      How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

                      How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

                      Everyone of my team members has a bucketload of tasks that they need to deal with every working day. On top of that, most of their tasks are either creativity tasks or problem solving tasks.

                      Despite having loads of tasks to handle, our team is able to stay creative and work towards our goals consistently.

                      How do we manage that?

                      I’m going to reveal to you how I helped my team get more things done in less time through the power of correct prioritization. A few minutes spent reading this article could literally save you thousands of hours over the long term. So, let’s get started with my method on how to prioritize:

                      The Scales Method – a productivity method I created several years ago.

                      How to Prioritize with the Scales Method

                        One of our new editors came to me the other day and told me how she was struggling to keep up with the many tasks she needed to handle and the deadlines she constantly needed to stick to.

                        At the end of each day, she felt like she had done a lot of things but often failed to come up with creative ideas and to get articles successfully published. From what she told me, it was obvious that she felt overwhelmed and was growing increasingly frustrated about failing to achieve her targets despite putting in extra hours most days.

                        After she listened to my advice – and I introduced her to the Scales Method – she immediately experienced a dramatic rise in productivity, which looked like this:

                        • She could produce three times more creative ideas for blog articles
                        • She could publish all her articles on time
                        • And she could finish all her work on time every day (no more overtime!)

                        Curious to find out how she did it? Read on for the step-by-step guide:

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                        1. Set Aside 10 Minutes for Planning

                        When it comes to tackling productivity issues, it makes sense to plan before taking action. However, don’t become so involved in planning that you become trapped in it and never move beyond first base.

                        My recommendation is to give yourself a specific time period for planning – but keep it short. Ideally, 10 or 15 minutes. This should be adequate to think about your plan.

                        Use this time to:

                        • Look at the big picture.
                        • Think about the current goal and target that you need/want to achieve.
                        • Lay out all the tasks you need to do.

                        2. Align Your Tasks with Your Goal

                        This is the core component that makes the Scales Method effective.

                        It works like this:

                        Take a look at all the tasks you’re doing, and review the importance of each of them. Specifically, measure a task’s importance by its cost and benefit.

                        By cost, I am referring to the effort needed per task (including time, money and other resources). The benefit is how closely the task can contribute to your goal.

                          To make this easier for you, I’ve listed below four combinations that will enable you to quickly and easily determine the priority of each of your tasks:

                          Low Cost + High Benefit

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                          Do these tasks first because they’re the simple ones to complete, yet help you get closer to your goal.

                          Approving artwork created for a sales brochure would likely fit this category. You could easily decide on whether you liked the artwork/layout, but your decision to approve would trigger the production of the leaflet and the subsequent sales benefits of sending it out to potential customers.

                          High Cost + High Benefit

                          Break the high cost task down into smaller ones. In other words, break the big task into mini ones that take less than an hour to complete. And then re-evaluate these small tasks and set their correct priority level.

                          Imagine if you were asked to write a product launch plan for a new diary-free protein powder supplement. Instead of trying to write the plan in one sitting – aim to write the different sections at different times (e.g., spend 30 minutes writing the introduction, one hour writing the body text, and 30 minutes writing the conclusion).

                          Low Cost + Low Benefit

                          This combination should be your lowest priority. Either give yourself 10-15 minutes to handle this task, or put these kind of tasks in between valuable tasks as a useful break.

                          These are probably necessary tasks (e.g., routine tasks like checking emails) but they don’t contribute much towards reaching your desired goal. Keep them way down your priority list.

                          High Cost + Low Benefit

                          Review if these tasks are really necessary. Think of ways to reduce the cost if you decide that the completion of the task is required.

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                          For instance, can any tools or systems help to speed up doing the task? In this category, you’re likely to find things like checking and updating sales contacts spreadsheets. This can be a fiddly and time-consuming thing to do without making mistakes. However, there are plenty of apps out there they can make this process instant and seamless.

                          Now, coming back to the editor who I referred to earlier, let’s take a look at her typical daily task list:

                            After listening to my advice, she broke down the High cost+ High benefit task into smaller ones. Her tasks then looked like this (in order of priority):

                              And for the task about promoting articles to different platforms, after reviewing its benefits, we decided to focus on the most effective platform only – thereby significantly lowering the associated time cost.

                              Bonus Tip: Tackling Tasks with Deadlines

                              Once you’ve evaluated your tasks, you’ll know the importance of each of them. This will immediately give you a crystal-clear picture on which tasks would help you to achieve more (in terms of achieving your goals). Sometimes, however, you won’t be able to decide every task’s priority because there’ll be deadlines set by external parties such as managers and agencies.

                              What to do in these cases?

                              Well, I suggest that after considering the importance and values of your current tasks, align the list with the deadlines and adjust the priorities accordingly.

                              For example, let’s dip into the editor’s world again.

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                              Some of the articles she edited needed to be published by specific dates. The Scales Method allows for this, and in this case, her amended task list would look something like this:

                                Hopefully, you can now see how easy it is to evaluate the importance of tasks and how to order them in lists of priority.

                                The Scales Method Is Different from Anything Else You’ve Tried

                                By adopting the Scales Method, you’ll begin to correctly prioritize your work, and most importantly – boost your productivity by up to 10 times!

                                And unlike other methods that don’t really explain how to decide the importance of a task, my method will help you break down each of your tasks into two parts: cost and benefits. My method will also help you to take follow-up action based on different cost and benefits combinations.

                                Start right now by spending 10 minutes to evaluate your common daily tasks and how they align with your goal(s). Once you have this information, it’ll be super-easy to put your tasks into a priority list. All that remains, is that you kick off your next working day by following your new list.

                                Trust me, once you begin using the Scales Method – you’ll never want to go back to your old ways of working.

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                                Featured photo credit: Vector Stock via vectorstock.com

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