I love to learn. It's not always easy or painless. In fact, sometimes the process of learning makes me feel stupid and incompetent. Learning a new language or new technology can really make me feel that way.
However, I find the embarrassment and humility is well worth the benefits of getting smarter. Even at 50, I find there is no shortage of helpful things to learn. Some may be old like historical perspective, and some may be new like trend-spotting. Truthfully I am an information and process junkie who will continue learning until the day I die.
As a learning addict, I am always looking for tips and tricks to increase the volume of learning and more importantly my information retention. So here, along with my own insight, are some of the best teachers from Inc. sharing their wisdom on how best to boost your learning capabilities.
1. Plan the work, and work the plan.
Many assume that learning is a natural reactive process. While it's true that most people can learn some things without planning or effort, the truly valuable knowledge and skills take time, dedication, and practice to master. Set a plan for the key items you want to learn this year. Budget time and energy into your calendar so you can create habits of discipline for your learning. If you can't set and follow the structure yourself, find courses that will give you the knowledge or skills you desire. You are never too old to go back to school.
2. Teach what you want to know.
The best way for me to learn something is to pretend I'm explaining or demonstrating it. You quickly find you don't really know what you assume that you know when you have to articulate it -- and the process of making mistakes and then figuring out what went wrong is one of the best ways to learn. My favorite book on the subject is . It lays out a great process for not just learning but mastery. --Owner's Manual
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3. Listen and read.
I don't have a trick per se to learn better -- definitely no app or bit of technology. What I do to learn is listen to my clients -- I learn a ton from them. Also, I am a voracious reader of online news sources (Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times), and my favorite magazine, . Between all this, I am constantly learning new things. --The Leadership Guy
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4. Utilize new technology.
Since I get much of my new information from books and online articles, one of my favorite tools is the Kwik Learning program created by the charming and brilliant, Jim Kwik. I've learned tricks to speedier reading and I retain information much longer. I've tried a couple of apps to help me learn to play the piano, but I'm afraid I'm hopeless in the music arena. No app can cure that! --The Successful Soloist
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5. Try visualization.
One aspect of my job includes giving presentations to large crowds, but I stumble if I try to remember a speech word-for-word. A friend in my Toastmaster's Club taught me a trick to overcome this issue called the Roman Room System, also referred to as the Journey Method. I visualize my home and the various items in each room. Once I have a clear picture in my mind, I attach a part of my presentation to specific items. For example, I may attach my introduction mentally to the picture of my daughter in my front entrance. As I walk into the living room, I attach my first point to the fireplace. As I travel through my home in my mind's eye, my presentation flows and I don't forget any key points. --Lean Forward
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6. They don't take 'no' for an answer.
A very wise person once said that you can accomplish absolutely anything if you are willing to hear 'no' often enough. When I recently looked through biographies of billionaire entrepreneurs like Warren Buffett and Elon Musk, that theme -- the willingness to try to sell something seemingly outrageous to strangers and then do it again and again till it worked -- came through over and over. They sold things door-to-door, or called perfect strangers to pitch their ideas. I wish I were more like that because that trait definitely separates the super-successful from the merely successful. --The Laid Back Leader
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