The first superhuman ability in the Superhuman Framework is Learning
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. -Carl Sagan
Learning is a fundamental building block of life. Whether you want to walk, run, or scale the side of a mountain, you’ll first need to learn how.
Before we go too deep down this rabbit hole, I want to be clear that I am not suggesting, as some might, that any particular style of learning leads to better outcomes than another. There are ample studies to suggest that while each of us will encounter various methods for acquiring new skills and information, and each person will have unique preferences for particular approaches, theories that assert that learning styles have a substantive impact on outcomes are questionable, at best.
So, let’s reframe this conversation.
Regardless of the particular method, a commitment to learning, paired with a commitment to the other superhuman abilities, represent the sum total of controllable factors that enable an individual to reach their full potential.
Learning how to learn, and being flexible in the adoption of new methods is the first step in your journey.
“Real education is about genuine understanding and the ability to figure things out on your own; not about making sure every 7th grader has memorized all the facts some bureaucrats have put in the 7th grade curriculum.” –Aaron Swartz
The following are a handful of useful tips and resources to make constant and aggressive learning a central ability in your arsenal of superhuman life skills.
The Methods of Learning
First, we should (very quickly) cover some of the various popular methods and theories of learning.
One popular model of understanding how we learn was proposed by Walter Burke Barbe and his colleagues, who suggested that there are three learning modalities:
- Kinesthetic (Action)
Neil Fleming built upon this model and added social learning. Beyond that, there are numerous other schools of thought and theories of learning styles, including a recent addition, explain in detail by author Scott Young in his book Ultralearning (highly recommended reading).
What it all means
When approaching the disciplined pursuit and practice of learning, it’s important to be open to various ways of learning while also being aware of how you feel you learn most effectively and efficiently. The central idea here is not that anyone method is inherently more effective but that simply by choosing the methods you enjoy most, it will help you to build a sustainable habit.
Don’t overcomplicate and overanalyze things by trying to determine all of the different ways in which you can learn something, instead, start with the most readily available and introduce new methods as they become known to you. Over time, you should incorporate as many different methods as you can.
Where to start
I’m a fan of simplicity. Combine the following 6 methods and you’ll be off to a good start.
1. Observe and Study Greatness
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the sholders of Giants.“ – Isaac Newton
One of the most important shortcuts for learning is to start by studying those who have already mastered the skill you wish to acquire. This can include watching masters at work, listening to interviews, or reading the journals, books, and notes of the best. When you are speaking with an expert, or have the opportunity to hear one speak, practice your active listening skills. Stay attentive, alert, and focused.
Listen to what they did that worked and then work backward to understand why it worked, what problems it helped them to avoid, and consider how to build upon it. Implement these learnings immediately as it can often help you to avoid common pitfalls that stand in your way when taking the longer route.
Be careful not to simply copy the masters but seek to deeply understand the reasons why their approach was so successful. This will help you avoid making the mistake of neglecting the importance of factors like timing or circumstance.
2. Read Books. Lots of them.
One of the best ways to learn is, and always has been, to read books. I cannot think of a single extraordinary smart person that I know who doesn’t read a substantial number of books each year. If you do not like to read, read slowly, or lack comprehension, I sympathize with you. My recommendation to you is to consider investing the time and money in a Speed Reading Course. My business coach insisted that I take it, and while I was resistant at first, it has been among the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Thanks, Bruce!
A speed reading course will help you to unlearn some of the negative associations you likely picked up in high school and/or college, while also helping you to break bad habits you probably developed around the same time. A speed reading course will give you an advantage over those who read slowly and a considerable advantage over those who do not read at all. The average human reads between 200-250 words per minute, about the same number of words you can speak over the same time. Imagine what would happen if you could read 3-5x faster than that. You could take in3-5x the amount of information over the same time period as a normal human. Why not be superhuman?
Aside from picking up a copy of Ultralearning, please consider bookmarking my Essential Book List for a constantly growing library of book recommendations categorized by topic.
3. Listen to Audiobooks & Podcasts
I used to exclusively listen to music while I was driving or walking around. Now I split my listening time 60% Podcasts and Audiobooks: 40% Music. So, if you’re the type of person who can’t find the time to read or who has trouble maintaining focus while reading, try audiobooks and increase the speed until it’s 1.5x – 3x faster. Look around for some podcasts where you can learn something. It’s amazing how much more I’ve learned with that tiny change.
Aside from Shareable and Rogue, check out my list of: Recommended Podcasts
If you’re on iOS, I recommend using the Overcast podcasting app.
4. Watch Videos & Online Courses
If you haven’t yet tried to learn something on Youtube, it’s time to give it a try. From changing a tire to developing a brand strategy, Youtube is full of useful information. Recently, I’ve fallen head-over-heels for a variety of video essayists. Many of these videos focus on film analysis and philosophy. Here are a few interesting examples:
- Kintsugi: The Art of Embracing Damage | Nerdwriter
- Kevin Hart’s 3 Secrets To Hilarious Storytelling | Charisma on Command
- Brexit: What Is Democracy? | Philosophy Tube
- What Is The Speed of Dark? | VSauce
TEDTalks are also an outstanding way to expand your horizons. Here are a few of my favorites:
- The Power of Vulnerability | Brene Brown
- Why good leaders make you feel safe | Simon Sinek
- How To Hack Networking | David Burkus
Beyond Youtube, there’s also plenty to learn and expand your perspective online. Check out this list of recommended online learning.
Chris Voss teaching negotiation, Martin Scorcese teaching filmmaking, and Malcolm Gladwell teaching writing are just a few of the available masterclasses on masterclass.com.
You can get a MasterClass Annual Membership for only $180. It's exceptionally worth it.
I love Skillshare. They've got hundreds of classes on just about anything and the membership is dirt cheap when you think about what you get for your money. Learn anything from essay writing and video editing to sales, marketing, and anything else you can think of.
The Blueprint Training
Ryan Stewart is smart...REALLY smart!
The Blueprint Training is some of the finest SEO and Digital Marketing training you can find. I have worked with Ryan and can personally attest that the man knows what he is doing.
Just look at his Youtube channel and see the sort of stuff he's willing to give away for FREE and then consider what he charges for. =
5. Attend Live Workshops & Meetups
Whenever you have the chance to learn in person, take it. Not only will you get the valuable hands-on, live, experience, but you’ll also have opportunities to meet new people, which can lead to entirely new learning possibilities.
Want to get started? Look on Meetup.com and subscribe to the newsletter for your local chamber of commerce or business associations.
6. Think, Synthesize, Process…Then Teach
I’ve found that among the most effective ways to solidify your learning is to teach. This can include public speaking, making content like blogs, videos, or podcasts, or developing an online course (even if only as an exercise).
If you commit to making sure that your audience learns what you know, in-depth, you’ll find that the act of creating content and teaching others will help you to see where your blind spots are in your knowledge.
The BIG Rule: Get Started, Now
I hope this has given you the inspiration to get started today. Don’t just stop with what I’ve listed above. Keep looking for new ways to continually grow.
Ready For The Next Lesson?
:: Thinking ::