Relearning

“We have learned how to do a lot of things. We must try to relearn why.”

Flora Lewis

One important aspect of learning is relearning. As you go about improving in a skill, it’s good to go back and refresh yourself on the fundamentals.

When you started, you were a different person than you are now. But as you improve, you gain clarity and strength in your skills. Things might have seemed new, challenging and perhaps even a little hard to fully grasp. You’ve changed. You’ve improved, however so slightly that may be. Relearning allows you to go deeper. Relearning the fundamentals allows you to solidify your foundational knowledge and go beyond your current level of skill.

By re-approaching the basics—or what you (think you) know—you can compare your more developed mind and skill to where you started with a different perspective.

Perspective is everything and will improve your skills even more. Of course, you don’t want to let your re-learning distract you from taking action.

The goal is to remind yourself —

  • where you started and how much you’ve learned.
  • see what gaps you’ve been overlooking.
  • why you decided to learn it in the first place.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #885

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Applying Multiple Intelligences

“Creativity begins with an affinity for something. It’s like falling in love.”

Howard Gardner

The first time I came across the idea of Multiple Intelligences (MI) was a Creative Live course I took by Vanessa Van Edwards called Master Your People Skills. Multiple Intelligences is essentially the idea to group intelligence (cognitive power/ability) into separate modalities (particular paths of doing something) instead of seeing intelligence as this generic blob of ‘dang pretty good at stuff’. In the book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner proposed this theory of multiple intelligences and gave eight examples (meaning there could be more) of unique types:

  1. Musical-rhythmic — sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, and music.
  2. Visual-Spatial — ability to visualize things with the mind’s eye.
  3. Verbal-linguistic — storytellers. People who are are great at reading, writing, memorizing.
  4. Logical-mathematical — ability to think logically and abstractly.
  5. Bodily-kinesthetic — dancers. Athletes. Actors. control over your body. Great sense of timing, response, and clear physical action
  6. Interpersonal — conversationalists. A sensitivity to other people’s feelings and moods. The ability to sway others in a particular way.
  7. Intrapersonal — self-aware. A strong understanding of yourself and what makes you, you.
  8. Naturalistic — in-tune with the natural world.

Don’t think of these as separate or fixed silos we fall into. Like the Enneagram, we might gravitate towards one or more intelligence over the others. For example, you might be better in tune with your body’s movement and what it needs, where as I might be able to pick up math class easily, or play songs by ear (but completely deaf to what my body is telling me). 

You could argue (and many have) that this a very subjective way of looking at intelligence and just another way to reframe ability. It doesn’t fit neatly into our educational system, as IQ does. But as a self-learner, I don’t really give a bleep about what my IQ is. I’m seeking new ways to become more knowledgeable and wiser and to fill in the gaps — and potential pitfalls — of my thinking. Can MI help make you and I a better creative? Potentially!

What’s exciting to me about the idea of multiple intelligences, is that it gives us a framework and a more focused definition we can use to learn how to get better in all the sub-modalities of intelligence. (That’s my crazy Renaissance mindset coming out.)

Each ability is highly valuable to not only learning and creativity but to all nooks and crannies of our lives. MI gives us a better vocabulary, or even a checklist to challenge ourselves with and questions to ask ourselves.

  • How can I add music practice into my life?
  • What if I started a visualization practice?
  • What makes a great story? How can I become better at communicating my ideas?
  • How can I approach my problems logically?
  • Where am I ignoring my body?
  • Who can I surround myself with to create the life I want to live?
  • Am I paying attention to myself and my needs? Do I have a good idea of who I am and what I want out of life?
  • Am I spending time in nature?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #869

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One Success

“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”

Henry Ford

The biggest hurdle to any habit or skill you are learning is an overloaded system. It’s often that we fail because we are trying too hard and too much at once, not because we aren’t trying enough.

Not trying enough is a pitfall that can keep you from starting.

If you ever find yourself never quite being able to get started or find yourself consuming a ton of books, courses, and videos but never putting them in practice, then you have a problem starting. Maybe it’s fear of failure or repeating past mistakes or not living up to your own exceptions of yourself. Whatever the case, put all your strength into taking a step forward, however small. Starting is a physics problem. Things at rest tend to stay at rest. What we need is something that pushes us forward, even just a tiny bit, that gets the ball rolling. Start and build momentum.

It’s often that we fail because we are trying too hard and too much at once, not because we aren’t trying enough.

But if you’re trying but making no headway at all, then you’re likely trying too hard or trying too many things at once. Getting results requires focused energy. You can’t reliably half-*ss success (unreliable success is called luck). We need a strategy that gets us to the end goal 90% of the time and on the right track (or at least somewhere interesting) the other 10%. That starts with limiting your focus.

I can’t tell you how many times I unintentionally derailed myself because I attempted too many things at once. There are only so many things we can do at once (…I’m mostly in permanent denial about this). Even if I had all the energy and money in the world, I’d still run out of time at the end of the day. Focus and priority are our best friends here.

The thing we need to remember is success and opportunity stacks. Neither is assured, but both success and opportunity tend to build upon one another. One success leads to more opportunity leads to more (potential) success etc.

So where do you want to succeed?

What’s a problem you are struggling with that would wipe out most of your other problems if you were to solve it?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #826

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Preparation: Rules of the Game

Preparation brings up many emotions for me.

Not Good Enough: Sometimes preparation stops you from starting.

The first thing to note about preparation is to ask yourself, “does this preparation get me where I️ want to go effectively and help me avoid common pitfalls or is this just excuses and laziness in disguise?” Often times, preparation is really just excuses you have to delay yourself from doing something that scares your butts off.

I’ve felt, and I’m sure most of us have, that I️ was unable to take on something new because I️ didn’t know enough yet. “As soon as I️ take this second online course, I’ll start executing my idea.” “As soon as I️ finish school” “As soon as I️ have the right equipment” “As soon as have more $….”

Excuses excuses. 98% of this is BS. A disempowering belief of “I’m not good enough yet” that’s wrapped in a shiny gold ‘someday’ that never comes. I­t­ took me a while to understand, but here’s honest truth: You will never know enough. You will always think you’re not good enough. Even if you know more about music than anyone else you know, you’ll still feel inadequate. Unless you try I­t­ and go after I­t­.

Too Much Info For Your Own Good: Something I­t­ hinders you and muddles your ability to see and think clearly 

The second thing to note about preparation is too much preparation can actually be a bad thing depending on your goal. Ask yourself, “Is this preparation a requirement?”
If you’re studying to be a doctor — you need to prepare. No one in their right mind would let you be their surgeon on your first day of medical school. You can cover a bad tattoo or haircut, but you can’t recover from a bad surgery.

But if you are trying to do something new by piecing together commodity types of thinking, you’re shooting yourself in the foot before you even leave the starting point. No about of reading is going to make you a better public speaker. I­t­ can inform you on certain arts like how to tell a great story, but becoming a great speaker requires you to speak, and get up there and fail.

There have also been people I’ve known who just know too much for their own good. You probably know someone that is so smart and wise, yet they never do anything that they want to do. They know too much about the negative side of what might happen if they try, so they never try at all.

They learn and understand so much — usually narrowly focus in one area — that they’ve completely thrown out everything else about how to live. 

Some of the best programmers in the world would become even better if they also actually knew how to talk to other human beings. Some of the most outgoing and connected people can’t even stand to be by themselves and alone with their thoughts for more than 5 minutes. They’ve learned to be great about connecting. They suck at connecting with themselves. We need both to make a real impact in the world.

Being too narrowly focused makes you top heavy. And one thing leads to another and you find yourself unable to reach higher levels of performance.
Unless you start working on counterbalancing your knowledge.

Life’s emergency kit / Batman’s toolbelt: Sometimes I­t­ takes you higher than you thought was possible.

The third note about preparation I️ want to close with is just the right amount of preparation might be exactly what you need to become great in your endeavors. What’s the right amount? I️ have no idea.

What I️ do know is adopting and creating systems and principles will put you in the right margin of having the right amount of information.

Take applying for a new job, for instance. If you send your resume to a company that you know nothing about, whose employees or values you haven’t gotten around to yet, with a resume you haven’t updated in 2 years, you’re not gonna get that job. Even just 20 minutes of preparation might have shown you that a friend of yours actually knows someone who works there. And reaching out through that channel would have dramatically improved your odds of getting a job, even with an outdated resume. 

Another example is learning. Do you really need to learn the entire worlds knowledge archive about photography, before you even purchase a camera? No! You just need to read a Wirecutter article on which camera to buy. And after you buy a camera, you need to learn how to turn I­t­ on. Then you can learn how to shoot I­t­ automatic mode. Then you can play around with lens. And so on and so on, chipping away at a skill on curious step at a time.

Takeaways:

If it’s an excuse, start immediately.

If you know too much for your own good, start immediately if you’re holding yourself back, while learning other life skills you’ve been neglecting in your thirst for knowledge.

If it’s not an excuse, and you’re looking for ways to avoid common pitfalls and to have the clearest path to your destination, then start seeking systems and principles to keep in your toolbelt. What is a toolbelt, after all, but a set of instruments you curate, for just the right types of needs or emergencies.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

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1%

Think of something big you want to accomplish in life.

Create a successful business, write a well acclaimed book, go to mars, learn 5 languages… 

Whatever I­t­ is you’ve set your mind on,  there’s you, your goals, and a bunch of unknown, terrifying, exhilarating, rock bottom, uncomfortable things standing in between of where you are and where you want to go.

Big picture goals are like a large realistic painting you view at a distance. When you get closer, you realize the picture was made from dabs of different colors and strokes of movement. Mistakes, creative epiphanies, techniques and layer and layers of work and expression are what turns stretched canvas and some tubes of paste into a masterpiece that resonates through time.

It’s the same with our big goals in life. It’s hard to see how a BIG goal is made when you’re starting at ground zero looking up at this looming mountain, lacking a Sherpa to guide the way. You want to get to the top, but how?

1%.

Doing even just a tiny amount of consistent and deliberate work dedicated to accomplishing your goal will accumulate up over time.

1% doesn’t just add up, it multiplies. The more consistent and good you get at something you love, the more you’ll want to do it.

What’s one small thing you can do today — right now — to get you one step closer to your goal?

Start with 1%, Stick with at least 1%, and one day you’ll be in the top 1%.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

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Shortcuts to Life’s Biggest Problems.

Books are my go-to when I’m facing difficult problems.

(Well… and books are my go-to for fun too.)

(Heck, they’re just my go-to.)

Learning and reading are shortcuts to life’s biggest problems.

What would you rather do: lose all your money, or read a book about someone losing all their money and how to NOT do that. Sure there’s nothing like learning from your own practical experiences, but there’s also nothing like learning to avoid pitfalls we all can make when we’re stumbling towards a dream.

Starting a business is great. But what about starting a business testing a personal MBA you’ve developed by learning from the books of the greatest entrepreneurs in history?  Better.

Books teach you how to think well.

Books won’t necessarily give you the answers to the test (aka life), but they will give you a more capable understanding of the questions. When you read a book, you’re not just learning the content, your learning how the writer thinks. And if a book resonates with you, you’re absorbing ways to think about the world the way the author does.

When I’m facing a career change or a health issue, money anxiety, happiness, and fulfillment problem, I seek books or lessons from people who have been there done that and come out thriving and better than they were.

We are as only as capable as we think we are. 

Having a more meaningful, inspirational, financial free life will be ours when we adopt a more capable way of thinking and taking actions.

Learn from the best. Absorb lessons from their wins and loses.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“Change is the end result of all true learning.” Leo Buscaglia

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” — Anthony J. D’Angelo

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Who are Master Learners? (Learning Playbook) — Part 2

My goal of becoming a master learner (the micro skill of learning) isn’t about being a know it all. As much as I would love to dominate the next time I play trivia night at a local bar, that’s not the end goal for me. I want to become effective at learning so that I can use those principles and tools to teach myself other things I care about (such as music, writing, and design). Learning is a fundamental skill that can improve every aspect of our lives. What do you do when as soon as you graduate college everything you learned is outdated? What do you do when you want to build a product but don’t know how to even start? What do you do when you’re industry changes on a dime and you have to either learn the new ways or fizzle out? Becoming a master learner means you can *learn anything.*

By knowing the principles of learning, we’re building a playbook or foundation of always stay current in our careers and the areas we care about. (More creativity and abundance, less friction, and anxiety)

So the question is who are masters of learning that we can learn from? Who makes learning look easy?

What resources do they recommend?
What questions do they ask?
What habits do they have?
Who do they learn from?

The first three that come to mind in today’s age are Elon Musk, Tim Ferriss and James Altucher.

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, Tesla, X.com (PayPal) and a plethora of other innovative (rock ’n roll) companies leading the charge to change the world, had this to say about learning on a Reddit AMA a couple years ago had this to say:

“I think most people can learn a lot more than they think they can. They sell themselves short without trying,” he insists. One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

In other words, Elon has mastered the art of learning.

Tim Ferriss writes (The Four Hour Workweek, Body, Chef, Tools of Titans and his most recent Tribe of Mentors) and podcasts about deconstructing “world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc).” On his podcast, he pinpoints the habits, tools and tricks of experts and experiments by applying what they know to his own life. What’s interesting about what Tim does is he doesn’t look for just the talented, he looks for world-class performs who on the surface shouldn’t be good at what they do.

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James Altucher, writer of Choose Yourself, Reinvent Yourself (and million other great books) and podcaster (The James Altucher Show) is another avid learner who is a huge fan of uncovering the micro-skills of a skill. What are the 50 to 100 micro-skills that make up a skill? James also does something I’m a huge proponent of, which is stepping out of your comfort zone and doing what scares you.

The question is are there any patterns in the way they learn?

I can see 5 actions they all do:

  1. They study and apply the art of learning.
  2. They are avid readers.
  3. They absorb knowledge faster by connecting and befriending world-class experts.
  4. They learn from top-level performers in various fields and from historical titans.
  5. They make bold moves — they challenge themselves, take calculated risks, and do what others don’t.

I’m positive there are a ton other people who are great examples of master learners (and I’ll kick myself for not thinking about them later)

Other Master Learners from History:

Leonardo Da Vinci
George Bernard Shaw
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Benjamin Franklin
Bruce Lee
The Wright Brothers
Nicola Tesla
Malcolm X

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Learning Playbook: Resources on How to Master Learning — Part 1

Yesterday I made a list of the micro-skills of mastery, skills that if mastered will create massive improvements in all areas of our lives.

Tonight I want to talk about learning. My aim here is to start building a master learning playbook to teach myself (and anyone like me) how to master the art of learning. Why learn how to learn? Because learning is a universal skill that affects all aspects of our lives. By becoming a more effective learner, you will be able to develop any skill, trait or habit you desire.

Questions I have:

Q: How can we teach ourselves to learn? (Learning how to learn — or meta-learning if you want to get fancy pants-y)

Q: What are the books, blogs, courses, tools and other resources we can add to our learning playbook?

Q: Who are Masters of Learning that we can learn from? How makes learning look easy?
    What resources do they recommend?
    What questions do they ask?
    What habits do they have?
    Who do they learn from?

Here’s what I’ve found so far:

Books baby, booooooks:

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin 

Learning How to Learn by Joseph D. Novak and D. Bob Gowin

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown and Henry L. Roediger II

The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast! by Josh Kaufman

The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life by Timothy Ferriss (A learning book disguised as a cookbook)

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer

A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) by Barbara Oakley

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch

Teaching Smart People How to Learn (Harvard Business Review Classics by Chris Argyris

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle

Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys To Transforming the Way We Work and Live by Tony Schwartz

The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge

Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows and Diana Wright

 Learning, Creating, and Using Knowledge: Concept Maps as Facilitative Tools in Schools and Corporations by Joseph D. Novak

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport

Mind Mapping: Improve Memory, Concentration, Communication, Organization, Creativity, and Time Management by Kam Knight

15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

 

I’ve started reading Be Excellent at Anything, and have read The Art of Learning and I’ll be diving into these in the coming months so expect full reviews here on the Renaissance Life.

Did I miss any books? Let me know.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Fundamental Skills of Mastery

Q: What are the foundational skills that affect all areas of our lives? What are the micro skills that other skills/pursuits are built upon? (design, entrepreneurship, writing, public speaking, etc)

Or perhaps a better question: If I learned how to ________ would it completely change my life?

The ones I can think of at the moment are:

  • Learning: Going from A to Z on a topic.
  • Understanding: Absorbing what you learn for use.
  • Reading: Reading to learn; Learning to read.
  • Thinking: Connecting ideas, analyzing, memorization, remembering, applying and questioning everything.
  • Health & Wellness: Understanding how your body, mind, emotions, and spirit works. Knowing what foods work for you and how to use them well.
  • Moving / Exercising: Knowing how the body moves. Knowing how to move your body.
  • Teaching: Restructuring what you understand and have learned for others to understand.
  • Psychology: Knowing how humans think. Knowing how you think.
  • Mindset: Positivity, affirmations, belief. Vision, power, confidence determination, resilence.
  • Talking: communicating your thoughts and ideas eloquently. witty, thoughtful, clever, agreeable.
  • Connecting: relating with others. Building community.
  • Hearing: Listening, feeling music and soul. Intuition.
  • Dancing: Expression through music and moving. 
  • Seeing: Observing others and yourself. Seeing what others don’t. Making interesting connection.
  • Acting: Charisma. Facial and Body Expression.
  • Playing: Letting lose. Having fun. Knowing what you like. Washing away anxiety and friction.
  • Applying: Taking action, executing, taking calculated risks, minimizing fear.
  • Creativity: Imagination. Expressing your ideas and mind. Seeing, making connections and applying them in new and interesting ways.
  • Ideation: Creating, brainstorming, making connections with other ideas, or from observations yet to be seen.
  • Pattern Recognition: Seeing and connecting ideas that make up larger themes about how the system/world works.
  • Numbers: talking and seeing with mathematics. Understanding probabilities. 

I’m sure I’ve missed some. What’s interesting is the interconnection between these skills. By improving and mastering the fundamentals, we can apply it anything we want to learn going forward.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”Bruce Lee

“I can’t say it enough that learning how to learn is one of the greatest skills anyone can have. It’s why I advocate that everyone go to college.”Mark Cuban

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”Ernest Hemingway

Beginner’s Body

Beginner’s body is the disconnection between what you’re mind says you can do and what your body is capable of doing.

Drawing is a great example. If you don’t know how to draw and you sit down and try to draw a landscape or from your imagination, most of the time you’ll be disappointed because you can only manage to draw stick figures.ww

When we think, ‘I can run a triathlon’ and then go do it — without a day of training (unless you count MarioKart) — but our bodies say ‘what the h🌋ll you think you’re doing?

At this stage, our skills aren’t aligned with our mind. Beginners bod can be really discouraging especially when we are trying to learn something new. We think we should be great immediately (like the movies) and when we’re not we tend to give up before we get going.

However, the beginner’s body is just a part of the learning process. In fact, I think successful people are envious of you. To see the world with a fresh set of eyes without the weight of success. Of course, you’re going to suck at the beginning. That’s why they call it the beginning. 

Fear not: Keep going — despite the suckitude — you will grow out of your beginner’s bod. If you really want to master a skill you have to learn to be okay with failing at the start. What could possibly stop someone who decides to never give up?

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.”Jack Ma, Alibaba

“Don’t quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can’t see it. Listen to your drum and your drum only. It’s the one that makes the sweetest sound.” Simon Sinek, Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, Find Your Why

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”  — Winston Churchill