• Casper Yeow

4 Keys to Effective Learning

When we folded our last business quite a number of years ago, there was a moment where I thought, "You know what? Forget your dreams. You've run out of time." While in reality that wasn't the case, the fact was it wasn't like I had another lifetime to achieve them. Once I came to that realisation, the question in mind then was "How do I achieve what I want to achieve in a compressed timeframe?"

There isn't a 'silver bullet' answer to that question but if there were, the figurative 'gun powder' inside it would surely be accelerated learning. The next question then became "How?" given the way I learn is the way I learn, and based on historical performance, I wasn't (in my mind) what one would call a quick learner. As fortune favours those who actively search for answers to difficult questions, I came across Jim Kwik's podcast series. In the first episode, "Learn ANYTHING Faster" of that series, he taught the four keys to learn quicker, using the acronym F.A.S.T. Here's what each letter represents.

'F' is for "Forget"

For many of us, when we are interacting with others, instead of paying our undivided attention to absorbing information coming our way, we introduce static to the transaction with our knowledge on the subject, unimportant distractions and our negative self-talk. The point here is, we learn more effectively and quickly when we forget (be it only temporarily) what we already know on the subject, distractions and our limitations. So, for next time, check the ego, stuff that's irrelevant or unimportant, and negative self-talk at the door.

'A' is for "Active"

It's natural for us humans to conserve energy. It comes from once upon a time when uncertainty was the norm and 'go time' for activities like hunting and running away from bears could be anytime. While this uncertainty, scarcity and hungry bears are no longer there for most of us, the tendency to conserve energy remains. While it may be the path most taken, rocking up to a lecture or seminar, or reading a book without putting in effort into taking notes, looking to ask questions and actively participating in other ways is not going to cut it...unless your aim was to cure your insomnia in the first place.

'S' is for "State"

All learning is state dependent. Curiosity. Fascination. Kwik taught that Information X Emotion = Long Term Memory. Again, like being an active learner, it takes effort to conjure up emotion to learn. Otherwise, as per the formula, there will be very little that is taught or read that will be committed to long-term memory i.e. there will be no learning taking place on your part. If you had the choice, you'd always want to sell your cleverness for bewilderment.

'T' is for "Teach"

If you knew that you were going to teach something to someone else what you were learning, would your level of attention be different? If you read the introduction to this blog, you would you would know that one of the primary drivers for me starting the blog was to provide me with the platform to share and teach what I had learnt. When you teach something you get to learn twice.

Soapbox moment: The moment we think we know it all, we're done. Thinking this way, we put ourselves in a state of non-progression, not unlike a river that's been damned up and no longer flows. In a biblical context, when we read that someone is damned, we typically picture the typical Hollywood scene of someone with horror in their face, burning up in a pit of fire. Between the two scenarios, and when you consider that one lasts for eternity and the other may hurt a little temporarily, which would you rather be?

Until next time, learn well folks. Learn FAST!

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