Learning itself is a skill. A skill can be developed and improved. What better of a skill to improve then the ability to learn. In this article I have written out the key elements to maximize your learning efficiency. For my age I have learned to do quite a lot and a lot has been self-taught. From Acrobatics to playing the Guitar I have taught myself many things by following these basic steps.
Before we can take a look at what it takes to learn first we need to look at what hinders people from learning.
-No Interest/Loss of interest/Boredom
-Ability to grasp concept
-The delivery of subject difficult to understand
Keeping all these things in mind let’s look at the keys to learning anything.
-Know your learning style
-Break down into small steps
-Look for Concept & Principles (what makes this work)
-Put the time in – 10,000 hours to become an expert – Keep the quality
First before anything else you must have interest. Over everything else if you are not interested or have the desire to learn you will not learn. Albert Einstein did terrible in school but was one of the world’s greatest minds. Do you think it was because he was stupid or do think it was because he didn’t have any interest or desire to do the schoolwork? So unless you have a desire to learn whatever the subject matter is you will not learn it.
Before you can begin learning anything you must understand your learning style. There are four learning styles neither one way is necessarily better then the other but rather better for the person. Each person may have one or multiple learning styles but generally each person specializes in one over all the rest.
The 4 Learning Styles
-Read & Write
Kinesthetic is for those that like to be more hands on. Kinesthetic learners often learn best through trial and error with hands on experience.
Visual learners learn best with their sight. Seeing something gives them the ability to comprehend.
Auditory Learners understand best from sound. Often Auditory learners are great musicians.
Read & Write learners learn best through words written out in essay format. These types of learners prefer the use of the direction manual.
Now that you know the 4 Learning styles you can determine which learning style suits you best. You may find that you fall under more then one category. Keeping in mind what you are learning if you apply what works best for you. For example, I am a visual and kinesthetic learner; most people that play instruments are auditory learners. Knowing this I have learned many songs by playing to my strengths by watching other musicians hand patterns in videos rather then listening to the song. I also discovered that you could tune a guitar by sight as well. Did you know when two strings are in the same frequency they can vibrate one another? When I figured that out I started tuning my guitar by sight.
Become A Student of Everything
Become a student of yourself. What I mean by that is learn for yourself. If you aren’t interested or you are being forced to learn, it can make it difficult. Learn for yourself, learn because you want to know more. If you have general interest you will be able to teach yourself.
Relax & Remain Calm
I have found that the average person is very tense and often stressed out. Relax, what’s the rush. When you are tense you only hinder yourself and your learning. It will only lead to anger and frustration, which will prevent you from learning all together. Relax, take things slow, and enjoy studying something new!
Everyone has heard this term before. Most would say that they have an open mind but are often still stuck in the past. What does it really mean to have an open mind? It means not being stuck in your old ways, being open to advice from anyone, any age, any sex, any race, it doesn’t matter. Learn from everything, successes, failures, experiences, stories, whether they are your own or someone else’s. Understand that there is a lesson from everything if you can open your mind and see it.
When learning something new it is important to keep focus on what you are doing. You must amerce yourself completely in whatever it is. Shut off anything from the outside world and don’t try and do other things and multitask while learning something new. It does require time and undivided attention to learning the finer details of any subject.
Understanding the finer details of the fundamentals allows you to combine them in a multitude of ways that creates what we would call advanced in any subject. An advanced technique is really just a bunch of simple things done at once. But if you don’t know the fundamentals with any subject well it makes it difficult to do anything more advanced or complicated efficiently.
It is important to break down anything you are trying to learn into smaller steps. You don’t want to ‘bite off more then you can chew’. Breaking things down into smaller steps allows you to see those finer details that create the bigger picture. Don’t be afraid to slow things down, it is actually really important to do so. One of my favorite sayings, ‘Slow is smooth, Smooth is fast’. If you can do something slowly and efficiently then you can speed it up but you can’t the other way around.
This one is no secret but it is often neglected. Practice makes perfect. You have heard it all your life. Most think “I will do it until I get it right.” But the mentality you should have is “I will do it until I can’t do it wrong”. When I learn something new I practice each individual segment over and over until it flows smoothly. “I fear not the man who has practiced 1,000 kicks 1 time, but rather the man how has practiced 1 kick 1,000 times.” – Bruce Lee
Time – 10,000 hours to become an expert
They say that if you spend 10,000 hours on one subject you are an expert at it. With that amount of time on one subject you should have great knowledge and understanding of that one subject. Although time alone on a subject will allow you to understand it more to speed up the time it is important to think quality of quantity. It is important that when you are spending time learning a subject that you are focused for that duration of time. Your brain can only retain so much information at a time so it important to not overload it every time you study.
Concept & Principles
With any subject manor there are concept and principles behind what you are studying. For instance if you are studying a song for an instrument there are certain scales of patterns that they follow. Or how the each language follows certain structure. If you can find these concept & principles in whatever subject manor you will be able to not only advance faster but also combine and create your own within the subject matter.
F.A.I.L. – First Attempt In Learning
Do not be afraid to fail. From failure success is created. It is from our failure we learn so much on what we should not do we learn what we should do. We always learn more from our failures then we do from our successes. It is important to try and fail so we can pick ourselves back up and learn to become stronger from it. There is a saying in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that the Black belt has tapped out (lost) more then anyone else in the room and that is why he doesn’t get beat anymore. Remember, “Success is never final and Failure is never fatal. It is courage and effort that counts.”
The Art to learning anything is nothing new but it is often forgotten or not thought of. I wrote this out for others to better understand the learning process. Every time I am learning something new I keep these things in mind and it speeds up the learning curve every time. I hope anyone who reads this has the same successes that I have when learning something new.