Everything around us is changing at unbelievable speed, and us, by us I mean the ones that are not kids anymore, we need to adapt to it. These past lockdowns made us vulnerable in terms of communication, and now we learned about Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other few video-conference apps. But it is not only that. Learning is a life-long process, and we should never stop doing it.
But, as we do it, we may want to know that there are ways to do it faster, better, with optimal results. I was talking with someone yesterday, and I got all excited talking about learning, genetics, intelligence, genius and other related stuff. And I realized that, once more, after long long time, I was feeling different. I was feeling again that vibration, that uplifting sensation of happiness that one has when one is close to his life mission. Life mission, native skill, achieved potential, call it in whatever way you want. You know the story, that one saying that each of us is destined to greatness, that each of us can achieve virtuosity on one unique skill or domain, where our talent is immensurable.
Some people discover their innate ability earlier in life, they are called prodigies, some later in life, and some never. Now that last one is a sad story. Wouldn't you want to know that there is something there, God's know what forsake ability, and you can be the greatest of your generation, if you will discover it. Let's not forget:
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” (Einstein)
Just think about Jamaica Bobsled team or how somebody living close to Sahara desert can have a great swimming potential. Still this story is not about genetics. They are not that important. What, you may say? Yes, they are playing a role in learning, but, unless you are on some extreme side of the spectrum, this does not matter.
Ok, I will need to explain few terms, so you will not be confused. There are different steps in learning a skill, and I call it skill loosely, as it can be a micro-skill (jumping higher) or a entire domain (chemistry or music). I quantify them in this order:
Beginner - you know what you want to learn, but you have no experience (zero hours mark).
Average - you spend some time learning about, until you are efficient enough to do it the right way (100 hours mark).
Expert - you are doing that better than other people, you can even choose it as a profession and get paid for it, you have a marketable skill (1000 hours mark)
Master - in order to achieve mastery, as an ordinary person, the experts like Ericsson and Gladwell said that we will need on average 10.000 hours (read the following two books to find more, 'Peak' by Anders Ericsson and 'Outliers' by Malcolm Gladwell).
Virtuosity - yes, there is one more step above mastery, and it is called virtuosity, if mastery means that you are in the top 1% in the world, then this level means that you are one of the best, if not the best of all. To achieve virtuosity one needs decades, if not an entire life of dedication.
So, genetics and innate talent, this may shorten the hours needed for mastery, from 10.000 to 5-7.000, depending on who is measuring or researching. Then, there is also the environment, and how early you are exposed to other people who already mastered your innate talent skill. Think about, if you have two parents that are both musicians or actors, you will know much more about it than if your parents are farmers. There are exceptions, of course, but upbringing matters quite a lot. If you have kids and you notice they are talented at something, make an effort and make them meet the best teacher in that direction, even if it is for a short period of time. Who would you prefer to teach you about training in a gym, Arnold Schwarzenegger for a day, or a young PE graduate who finished university 5 month ago for a year? Choices, choices! Basically learning to the expert level will made you to know 80% of something, but then you reach a plateau, and you cannot go forward for some reason. There are two ways through, one is that you dedicate enough time, and you learn the fine tuning by yourself (10.000 hours), or you find somebody who already achieved mastery and he/she will point out what you need to learn, shorting the learning time dramatically. Try this book also But I derailed a bit with the story. Let me tell you about my journey. I was lucky enough to discover my skill earlier in life, and more than that, to train and improved over decades, using my own experience and other ones also. My only ability that matter is that I learn fast. Very fast. Not to boast, but I can learn in days what others can do in months, and reach expert level in few months. Languages, professions, all kind of skills. I can do them very quick once i study with what I call focused intent. Now this is one important bit, making all the difference between normal learning and faster learning. It has two parts, focus and intention. You know that moment when you studied a language in school for 5-10 years, and you still cannot speak it fluently. That is because you missed one of those two, either you did not focused enough in school, or you never had the intention to learn it. But what about back then when you need it to learn about and compare car performances, in order to decide which car to buy, as a teenager, combing through many car brands specifications database, and engine specs, mpg consumption, acceleration where soon all settled in your memory. What made the difference? You wanted to know, you had the intention, the motivation, and you read and compared them carefully. So you had the focus also. Can you see it now? There is a very easy way to explore this mysterious intention, as Tibetan monks teached us, and it is called being in the present. Right here, right now, set up your alarm and for the next 2 minutes be in the present, being aware of all the noises, feeling, smells and tastes around you. No thought about what happened in the past, no plans about future. Just be here, now. You see how hard it is. Learning with focused intent requires a similar skill. No distractions, no procrastinations, no delays. Carlos Castaneda wrote entire books related to the process of intention, exploring the way of life of the Yaqui Indians.
I learned how to read and read quite early, around age 4-5. Then, when I was 6, I found the Holy Grail, a book about fast reading techniques. Over the next few 10-15 years I kept doing the exercises and now, reaching some age, they become part of my reading, automatically. I am reading some 600 page books in one night at work (Hope my bosses do not read this, just kidding, I am reading the book and doing my job, right?). If you made an educated guess, learning how to read faster will save you a lot of time if you want to achieve speed learning. This is the first step. Find a good class or book about it and do the effort. If you need speed, you do not need Kabal (Mortal Kombat 2 reference for our young audience). You need to read faster to learn faster. This is a necessity.
But reading faster is not everything. We are humans and we tend to forget. So memory is as important as any other part. You can try to check this book ( Never Forget, by yours truly), in order to save me to explain everything in detail. Or you can just watch this Jim Kwik video as teaser:
Yes, you can learn to do what he is doing, and even more. If you do not have time even to watch the video, I am giving you a short resume of what I call 'Back to Basics' technique, a set of rules meant to keep your brain healthy for longer. I t is something that all of us know, but few are actively doing it. Let's start!
8-9 hours of sleep
Proper hydration - 1.5-2 liters of water (dehydration is reducing your brain effectiveness by 5-10%)
Avoid alcohol and drugs
Exercise regularly (physical -at least 3 times per week, mental - at least 10-15 minutes daily)
Use proper nootropics (not sub-optimal ones like energy drinks) (You can read more about nootropics using these series of articles - posted the first one, just scroll for the rest)
Eat good quality food, more than 75% vegetable and fruits, more than 75% alkaline, avoid to eat fast food, sugar, salt and fat in excess. Unless you are doing a keto-diet. Than it is different.
Also, the more you learn, the better it is. I do not expect everyone to be as obsessed as I am, but acquiring knowledge from different branches will make your life easier. What can I say, even now, I am working with people from both ends of the spectrum, some with autism and learning disabilities, some being called geniuses, multipotentialites, multipods, or if you prefer the Renaissance term, 'l'uomo universale', the polymath. Of course, I may be a bit too restless, with 4 specifically themed personal blogs (Economics and personal finance, poetry, intelligence study, health), 3 active blogs on Publish0x (Life extension, Cryptocurrency and Creative writing), a Medium one and some non-themed ones (5-6 active ones on Hive Blog such as Leofinance, Splintertalks, ProofofBrain, Stem, etcetera, then it is Read.cash and few other I will not mention today. I like games like Splinterlands and League of Legends. Combine this with 2 real jobs, writing books and dealing with crypto, and you have the definition of what real chaos is. Not to mention that right now I am planning my own wedding for this autumn.
Wow, time goes faster when you are talking about your passion. I will stop here for now, and maybe I will try to talk about peak and flow some other time.
All the best,
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Impressive dear. Thanks for this