Somehow, life never stops teaching us. If only we’d knew how to learn.
There’s no shortage of learning means. Yet our ability to see it, pay attention to it, and make the most of it stands in our way. It’s what’s stopping us from achieving pretty much everything we want in life.
Then, of course, it’s also how we learn whatever we get to see and pay attention to.
A timeless quote by Brian Herbert made an excellent point about learning.
“The capacity to learn is a gift; the willingness to learn is a choice; the ability to learn is a skill.”
So, I’ve wrapped my head around it and thought of:
Why learning how to learn makes all the difference;
Why there’s no way you’ll get the ropes of it from one place;
What learning involves, as a process;
And my favorites resources on learning how to learn (including a link to a movie roundup for parents who want to instill their kids the growth mindset!)
How do we cultivate the learning skill in a world where access to information has never been easier?
We’re fortunate enough to live in times where information is only one click away.
It’s not that we don’t have the resources to learn. It’s rather that we don’t know how to make the most of it.
Do you have a learning strategy?
Have you documented your learning method in any way?
Is the way you learn something you have deliberately come to?
Or is it something you grew up with, and you’re clueless about how you’ve come to it?
Why learning how to learn makes all the difference
Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere, says an old Chinese proverb.
Latins used to have this short, sweet proverb of “Omnia mea mecum porto”. It meant:
All that is mine I carry with me.
What if everything we own would be our ability to learn what we need and adjust to what life is giving us?
Truthfully, with everything you want or need to achieve, there’s a method that will get you there faster. A method taken from what life threw at billions of people who lived before you.
You could get to the same point with baby steps. Taking all the time in the world to make the mistakes you need to make. Learn from it the hard way.
Or you could take the wisdom of others. Learn from their mistakes. And make sure you don’t forget it.
But regardless of how you do it, your learning method will make the difference.
Some people won’t even learn from their past experiences and mistakes.
Is it a character flaw? What if it’s just that they don’t know how to learn?
Often, it’s the latter.
The problem with not knowing how to learn is that it kills your potential of being great before you even begin.
When you’re doing it wrong, your efforts don’t show the results you were hoping for. You give up easier. And every time you do it, you’re a bit more disappointed in yourself.
In the long run, it gives you the wrong idea that you’re not good at it. Whatever that “it” means.
A pretty dangerous mindset, wouldn’t you say so?
Already thinking about taking a step back? Would you rather get lost in a swirl of funny cat videos on YouTube? At least walk away with these words of wisdom:
If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you. (Zig Ziglar)
Are you still here?
Great. We have a long way to go.
I won’t teach you to learn how to learn in this article, BUT
I can remind you that it’s not rocket science either.
Before anything else, you need to be aware that you must change your attitude toward learning.
First, start seeing it as something you can learn and practice as a skill. Then, reap benefits you didn’t suspect you’re capable of.
Don’t take my word for it. Take it from one of the smartest people who ever pushed the American people forward, who used to say that
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. (Benjamin Franklin)
Still, knowledge doesn’t work that way. We, humans, are not made to soak in the knowledge and information we need by simply reading sentences.
In fact, learning comprises a series of six interactive components:
- Processing & organizing
- Writing (fancily called in scholar terms “graphomotor”)
- Higher-order thinking
These six processes interact with each other. But also, with your emotions. And the climate where you study. Your behavior. Your social skills. The teachers you look up to, and the family members surrounding you and supporting you (or not).
When you know what you want to study, you still have to decide an approach for yourself:
Narrow down or go to the full extent? Want to master everything to be learned or only some of it?
How long should you study? And when is it ok to move on to the next topic on your studying list?
When should you stop studying? And how do you test what you’ve learned?
This is the wordy theory. You can find a more digestible approach by looking elsewhere. Learn from books, courses, talks, videos, and everything else you find online.
Below is the alternative to the hard to digest, scholarly resources on how to study.
My favorite resources on learning how to learn
A free class on Coursera on learning how to learn. Over 70K people already took it. And 98% of them rated it with thumbs-ups.
Erika Andersen’s in-depth article on new skills & knowledge. Published in the Harvard Business Review, it takes about the quick & effective way .
This book collection from The CEO Library. Lots of promising titles on the topic of Learning How To Learn .
Yet another book collection from Book Authority. A list of the Best Learning Books for all ages, including kids.
A selection of TED talks about learning. Growth Engineering’s 10 favorite TED talks on the topic.
A roundup from Business Insider. A reminder of the best free online learning resources.
A top of inspirational movies. This time, on the broader topic of education and studying.
Bonus for parents! A list of 100 movies on growth mindset for children.
Learning how to learn is about the journey, not the destination. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
You’ll get skills and the ability to observe details that help you learn better in all the aspects of your life.
Come learning time, remember this famous quote on the topic:
The joy of learning is as indispensable in study as breathing is in running. (Simone Well)
If you have any favorite learning how to learn resource that you’d like to share with me, I’d be thrilled to hear from you!
If not, I hope you’ll take away a little something from the entire above.
Now, go out into the world and develop your method of learning how to learn. Cultivate your joy of learning. Have a ball if you can.