Principles of Acquisition & Learning


The Personal MBA: Getting Results


Lesson Info

Principles of Acquisition & Learning

The first one we're going tio look at is ten principles of rapid skill acquisition, so some of the tips and tricks and things that really help in the process not all of the same strategies or techniques apply at the same time. Okay, so learning a language is very different from learning. Programming is very different from learning windsurfing, right? So there are things that could make the process easier, but using a checklist helps you think through what it is you're trying to d'oh in a way that actually helps you to figure out what what your particular strategy should be. Now, the first thing that I talk about in the principles of rapid skill acquisition is choose a lovable project, and this is the idea that there are things that we are really, really interested in learning for lots of different reasons and some things that we kind of sort of have to learn. But we're not really just about that thing right in general, the research indicates that you are going to learn fastest the thin...

gs that you are most interested in at any given point in time. So if you have a choice choose the thing that you're most just about right now sometimes that being excited about something is an intrinsic thing like I've always wanted to learn how to play the piano, and I'm finally going to sit down and learn it, and you're really excited about that whole process because it's cool sometimes, and particularly in the case of business stuff it's something that you feel you need to learn to get a particular result. I don't know very many people in the world that are super jazzed about learning accounting I just don't write doesn't mean it's not important, doesn't mean it's, not valuable doesn't mean you should shouldn't learn about it. It just means that your motivation, what makes that particular project lovable is different, and what makes that particular project livable is a result that you get from it, right? So you can get jazzed about learning programming if you understand that that can help you make more money can help you serve more customers there's a result to that that's really exciting, right? But you need to find something lovable about that particular project where it's going to be really hard to get started in the first place now going to what we were talking about earlier, focus your energy on one skill at a time, and this is really just reduces to to a math principle. Right if if you spend five minutes learning this over here in five minutes learning this over here in ten minutes over here you keep jumping, jumping, jumping, jumping you never get to the point where you have enough experience doing the thing to actually get a result like way more efficient twenty hours here twenty hours here twenty hours here you get that critical mass of practice that actually helps you get to the end result okay now define your target performance level this is the whole idea the specific term behind decide what you want and target performance level is a very specific statement saying I want to be able to do x and you should be able to look at that statement and look at the world around you and say have I actually done this thing or not right it's an achievement type of statement so when I was learning how to program in ruby my target performance level was I wanted to write a web application that was on a production server that was live to the world that people could actually use it very specific if that program existed I met the target performance level if it didn't I still had work to do all right so very clear very concrete very specific ok as we talked about earlier deconstruct the skill into sub skills what do you have to be able to do to reach that target performance level so in the case of the web application I need to figure out how to install the programming language on my computer right kind of important how to set up a database how to push the code on onto ah live web server all of those things were necessary sub components of getting the result break him down understand what are the things that you need to practice first to get to that result as quickly as possible and obtain critical tools you would be amazed the number of people who say I want to learn how to play the piano you asked them if they have a piano and they say no right they're so sometimes you need the stuff right can't play tennis without a tennis racket it's it's not going to go well so part of what the value of doing some research at the beginning is figuring out ok what's the stuff what do you need to have in order to get started and the more quickly you can get that stuff the more quickly you confined tools the best the better the tools you can get the easier it's going to be tow learn what it what it is actually I didn't tell the story in the book because it was uh I was I was going over over my word count but I actually when I started windsurfing uh used a used bored so I inherited aboard from from a ah family member really old one uh I'm still not sure whether it had all of the pieces and I tried to set it up it's like ok, you know, use board is save me a couple thousand dollars great the first time I took it onto the water uh, I was raising sail on the whole thing like two senate let the whole thing just fell apart in the water, right? So the quality of the tools that you use is really in important make sure your tools are reliable, make sure they do what you need them to do right now eliminate barriers to practice and these are all of the things that get in the way anybody have ah, good story or example of something that made practicing way harder than it actually needed to be. So what? I'm trying to learn something, I'll be on my, like, luscious day language and I'm on one website to learn that language. I'll have twenty different tabs open all the different, like internet explorer most everything will be open and then I'll be getting e mails and facebook is there and who knows what else is going on and the phones on? And so I'm not able to focus on that destructions I'm really glad you brought that up because, you know, so sometimes the like we talked about earlier sometimes the barriers air, physical like we don't have the tools close at hand you know, we we want to practice swimming in the pools not open like you know there's some physical stuff but a lot of times the barriers are personal right? We have kids, we have pets we have the internet which is the biggest distraction machine on the face of the earth we have friends stopping by we have things that infringe upon this this focused attention that we need to put it so anything that you can do to eliminate those before you start practicing turn off the internet in my case when I'm writing I block it right? I can't even have an internet connection on my computer because it's such a big distraction that I don't get anything done right close the door, turn off the phone, eliminate all of those things that really take your time and energy away from what it is that you want to do so we're getting some reaction in the chat room alaia williams I think for me the fact that I'm actively running my business makes it hard you always tell myself I need to work, work, work and then I push off the learning, huh? And this is actually really dovetails into what I'm going to talk about next which is make dedicated time right perfect coating phoenix we tend to think that we can do multiple things at one go yes and we can this is really you need to focus you need to concentrate and you need to make dedicated time so you know there's there's this persistent you know called a myth or a misconception that oh, I'm yeah I'm totally going to learn how to program when I find the time right? And finding the time never comes because your work will just expand into all of that you know, we never you don't find time in the sense of like, finding a twenty dollar bill that you forgot that you left in your coat pocket he's never happens and so if you're going to ever have the time you have to make it and the uncomfortable part about making the time is you have to decide the thing that you're not going to do in order to spend time doing this thing. So what I found is personally what worked for me because my wife also runs a business so she's doing her own thing uh my daughter leela is two and a half and is a very, very cute distraction machine uh I had to make time and it was usually half hour forty five minutes right before bed to the house was quiet, leela was asleep I could set aside my work for a while and focus on doing something that was really effective to me uh most people have their own little pocket of time it may be in the morning for you, right after you get up maybe on your lunch break where instead of, you know, going out to a restaurant from work, you decide to go someplace and focus on practicing or learning something you could be right before you go to bed. I would do whatever works for you, but you have to look taken honest look at your schedule and ask yourself, when are you actually going to have time to do this? What you're gonna make time to do it. Okay now, principal number eight it is what I call creating fast feedback loops and fast feedback loops are things that tell you as you're practicing something whether or not what you're doing is working right. So you take a photo on the camera, you look at the view finder and you can see whether or not the photo actually looks good right? That's a fast feedback loop you're practicing a sport and your coach tells you to do something in a different way that's a fast feedback loop you're writing a program and you try to run it in the computer blows up and you know what's with kind of some error message that's a fast feedback loop, there are lots of different ways that you can try something and get immediate or close to immediate feedback on whether or not it worked the more fast feedback loops you have, the faster it is to learn because you know very quickly what works and what doesn't you khun just doesn't so for what it is that you want to learn how to do find some way find some method of getting that feedback as quickly as possible if you're learning a language learning by speaking it with someone are trying to communicate with somebody else they are your fast feedback loop right whether or not they understand and you can adjust your approach to doing that um there are fast feedback loops and pretty much everything you just need to look okay, but find it as quickly as possible. Can you give some examples of fast feedback loops church well let's let's ah let's take a look it's a specific skill that somebody is uh I'm going to ask is this three eighteen media that asked for the examples so three eighteen media what examples or what sort of skills were trying to learn that you need the feedback groups for went out I think they said that they were actually learning earlier they said they were think they were learning to code ruby actually, it was something something somewhere they were learning coding of some kind yeah ok, so so programming languages um have depending on the language and type of program that you're running uh wonderful error messages so you know you change something in the code he tried to run the program and instead of seeing what you're supposed to see, you see this big nasty error message with a lot of information that you don't understand uh the computer processor is the fastest of all feedback loops it'll tell you in milliseconds whether or not it worked uh and usually doesn't and so what you do with that fast feedback loop is ok, I made a change broke the program can I fix it? And then that goes into doing something else that I that fixes it or not and it's just a cycle it keeps on going if it takes you away from one day to be funny when you're saying it's ok, but how do we work by this true creative field? But it was in your case you put a book, I have the same problem with film and with books you don't have that fast food back and in fact sometimes you have to keep pushing one thing because you never know when it's going to go fire and never know how do we how do you apply better so the question might be so let's let's turn that into a question of what types of fast feedback loops can you install? So for example very very simple for video aa field monitor is a fast feedback loop right so you can see what's coming through the camera and you can see that before is captured on film so you make a change to the cameras adjustments you see it on the field monitor and you know whether that's a good good improvement or something that you should move away from right something's in focus or not you can do the same thing in things like grading and color correction of you know you have a piece of software that's displaying the footage and you're making a change and you're seeing that update on the screen that's a fast feedback loop um all the types of fast feedback are making sure that you are showing whatever it is that you're doing to other people who can provide you feedback on a coaching or a mentorship kind of basis there are lots of different ways to do it depending on what it is what part of the process you're trying to improve doesn't make sense so doesn't matter the feedback loop is more subjective on environmental for example programming right compiler will always tell you like if it's right or wrong yep anyone that doesn't matter who you are or what it is right photography if you have a mentor it depends on his taste right that's more subjective does that matter or um I understand what that depends very much on your target performance level right? What aspect of the process are you trying to improve automatic types of feedback are great because they could be automated instant, so you're getting that feedback systematically, but sometimes you can't do that, and so getting feedback from a person eyes is super valuable. Ok, now to more ideas here as your practicing practice by the clock in short burst ok, this is going to the timing issue that we're talking about earlier as well as the the idea that our perception of time is fluid, so when it's, when we're not getting the thing that we want to get, we get frustrated, it feels like it's taking a long time practicing by the clock makes sure that you are actually spending the time that you want to spend and I really highly recommend I actually brought it with me. This is the timer that I use whenever I'm learning something this is ah timer an interval time recalled the end so the nso think this is the pearl model, something like that? Um, the wonderful thing about this is you can set it so you can use like a random kitchen timer or whatever. What I like about this is that time is kind of nice instead of, like, strident bp, which if you're using a lot of really important but you can also pre set it to do intervals so what I usually do, so, for example when I was practicing learning how to touch type on a new keyboard or learning how to play the ukulele, I would set the timer for twenty minutes, set another enough interval for something like five minutes, so I would give my hands a break and get up and get a cup of water or or have a snack or whatever, and then one that wants that five minute timer went off. I did another twenty minutes and so pre defining that as a system made it much, much easier to actually go through this practice routine that that I had set up for myself highly, highly recommend getting a timer on practicing by the clock, and then the short bursts is for what we were talking about earlier. You get tired, right, particularly early in the process when it's frustrating, and so the short bursts allows you to be as productive as possible during that period of practice and then take a break and then come back when you're fresh. Okay, number ten in practice, particularly the early phases, you want to emphasize to things, quantity of practice and speed of practice. So this is there's actually really wonderful story in a book called art and fear, I think it was published two thousand one, uh, where there was an art teacher who ran an experiment. And the experiment was this he split the class in half and one half of the class was going to be graded on only one thing which was the quality of the pot there they're making pots or bowls or something the quality of the piece that they were able t produce so they only had to do one thing but that one thing had to be perfect in order to get a good grade the second half of the class was responsible they were going to be graded on the total weight off all of the pottery that they made during that class right? So if you made one hundred pounds of pottery you got a name like ninety pounds of ian and kind of greater that that way and the weird thing that happened was the group the half of the class that was grated on quantity raw production ofthe pots regardless of how good they were the actual quality of the pieces that they turned in at the end of the class was way better than the folks who were told to make it perfect right because they didn't more they worked more they made experiments and some of those experiments worked in some of the failed miserably but they learned from it right so well in those early hours of practice you're not focused on making it perfect you're focused on doing it and doing experiments and getting experience by doing the process right and speed so do it fast don't do it slow now there are some things where a certain minimum level of quality is what you're looking for, like programming right doesn't help tio type a whole bunch of things real fast if it doesn't actually do anything right. So sometimes, you know you basically want a certain amount of quality call it seventy, eighty percent and then focus on speed doing it a lot. Okay, now we have ten principles of this is actually the second worksheet. Ten principles of effective learning and learning is very, very different from skill acquisition. Most people tend to use them interchangeably a synonyms they're not. They're very different. Learning is acquiring collecting knowledge about something, right information skill acquisition is learning how to do something in the real world when performance matters so learning can support skill acquisition not the same thing. Very different. Okay, so but learning is great because that research can actually help you deconstruct the skill could help me figure out what to practice first. Learning is valuable. We just need to learn how to do it. Well, ok, so the first thing is learns research the skull, unrelated topics. This is the idea of picking up three to five books about the resource pretty much anything that you want to learn how to do I can guarantee you that there are hundreds of people who have done it before they're experienced in it they've written guides about it were created courses about it and that's all available to you if you look so your best friends in this area are google, amazon, dot com and your local public library like it's really simple just go out and search for some information now as you're doing that jump in over your head, right? So maybe as you're going through and doing some research, you find a couple of introductory books and that's great try to find a book about something specific that you want to be able to do that's a little bit more advanced where you open up the book and you maybe don't understand half of what's in it, right that's when you're exposed to things that maybe a really fundamental part of the skill, so jump in over your head tried it try to pick up things that aren't immediately comfortable to you that's when you learn the most okay now identify mental models and mental hooks and you can think of these as analogies or concepts or things that you're already kind of sort of familiar with that you can use to understand this new thing that you're doing all right, so the example that I used when I was learning how to program is ah web server it's like what's a web surfer how does it work? What does it do? I don't know what that means whatever ah concept you can use to kind of understand that is, uh certain types of webs web servers are like librarians, right? You ask them, hey, I would like this resource they say ok, let me go search for that and they go back into the stacks they find this thing and if it exists that come back and they say, here it is and if it does, if it's not there, they come back and say it doesn't exist. It's what a web server does it's just a computer library in right? Those types of things may you know when when you don't have any idea what you're doing, those types of things make it way easier to understand okay, so find those analogies find those things to relate what you already know to what it is you're trying to do now. One thing in the research process that's really valuable to do is imagined the opposite of what you want. Okay, so we're spending a lot of time thinking how do I get this thing that I want but take just a few moments to figure, ok, what about this process? Do we not want to happen? So when I was learning how to windsurf I did not want to drown, right? And when you don't want to drown you think about okay, what are all the things that I can do to avoid dying? You get some really valuable information out of that, right? So things like, uh, wearing a wet suit to avoid hypothermia wearing a p f d to make sure that I could float if I was in the water. One thing that I really seriously undervalued my first time out and learned very quickly where helmet when the windsurfing board kicks you off and you have this big sale with a big mass, like flying right towards your head, you want the helmet on your head, right? All those things I would not have thought of if I didn't take a moment to imagine the office, what what's, the worst thing that could happen here and preparing for those things to prevent the things that don't want now. It's, also valued to talk to practitioners, set expectations about what's going to happen, right? I probably would have had a helmet on my head at the beginning. It had I talked to a wind surfing instructor before I went out on the water, right, uh, practitioners can help you really understand what's involved in it, sometimes you could hire them as a coach or a consultant. Sometimes they're a friend who knows what they're doing or a person who wrote a great tutorial on the internet that is kind of helping you in the research phase I I had a wonderful guy his name is jim hey lives in florida he's merging biologist and wrote wonderful windsurfing tutorials on here's the equipment he needs he it here's here's how to go through the process here's this terminology he was a super helpful resource I just sent him an email saying thank you for all of this it meant a lot to me I have a couple questions can help and so talking with him made the whole process way easier because he knew things that I did not know right talk to practitioners you can use research to eliminate distractions as we're talking about earlier and the key here and the research process is understanding what types of distractions you are probably going to come across right so for example, if you're learning how to play the guitar if a string snaps well you can no longer practice get the guitar if you don't have extra strings it may be a couple days before you can pick it up again right that's a preventable problem and so just taking a minute to get a couple of sets of strings so you can replace one if it snaps to really efficient use of time okay eliminate those distractions some types of skills uh benefit from a certain level of memorization language is a great example for february words things like that and so if memorization is a big part of learning this thing that you want to do there's a specific technique called spaced repetition and reinforcement it's basically a modified flash card type of thing where the general idea is you go through the flash cards the flash cards that are easy you don't review very often the flash cards that are difficult you review more often you review the things that you have the most difficulty with and you learn and you memorize okay, so a couple of programs that really help here on qi and k I think dot com or if you google donkey you'll find it smarter super memo there are a lot of software flash card type applications that can really help here and really the classic case it's for this type of thing is language because there's a lot of memorization involved right? If you don't need to memorize a ton of stuff, you don't need space repetition but if you do it's an invaluable tool okay scaffolds and checklists so if whatever it is, whatever it is that you're doing if there's a process that's involved to get started it's a really, really valuable to write yourself a check list right? I had to do this for winter break because you have to set up the board and set up the sale before you can go out on the water there are a lot of steps involved if you miss one of those steps you're sail board disintegrates in the water and so you know, just putting together a very simple did I do this? Did I do this today do this okay, I can get started those very simple checklists and scaffolds can make it way easier this this is removing a berry to practice right making sure you have all the things you need setting up a checklist cannot can't make sure you do that now one of the fun things that you get to do as you're practicing is making test predictions what if I did it this way? What if I try it tried that or what if I you know what if I tried to approach a versus approach be there's a lot of latitude that you have when you actually get to the point of sitting down and practicing the thing that you want to be able to do you can figure out more efficient ways to do it that maybe aren't in the books but just by paying attention to what is working and what is not and coming up with an idea and testing it in the moment you can speed up your rate of learning extremely extremely quickly sometimes some experience you know, it's experimentation sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't ah, but every time you run an experiment, as you are in the process of learning something, uh, you will get a lot more information about what's really important and what's, not okay. And last principle of learning honor your biology. This is the part and kind of going back to that whole feeling of we all have too much to do, and we're overwhelmed, and, you know, we're human beings. We're not computers, right? This is not a process of automatically uploading software into your brain. I wish it wass would be the first person to sign up for that, right matrix. Awesome. Straight into the back of my skull, you know, let's, do it. We don't work that way, right? We get tired, we're frustrated, we're people. And, you know, there are certain parts of the process that you have to take care of your body and your mind as you're doing this or kind of missing the point, right? So understand that there's a certain amount of rest that's involved in this there's, a certain amount of making sure you're honoring your body's limitations. So one of the things I had to be really careful about when I was learning how to windsurf, I was getting too tired in the water, because if it's you holding a sale upright floating on a piece of styrofoam in the middle of the lake with very few other people around you and you get tired you can't get back in it's a bad thing, right? Very bad and so honoring your biology understand that you have limitations here and that's okay, just take care of you. Make sure you arrested uh, make sure that you're well fed. Um all the things they need to take care of your body will also speed up your skill acquisition process. Make sure that's part of your research that's wrapping skill acquisition it really is it's a process you can use to learn anything, anything for business, anything for your personal life, hobbies, whatever. So one thing for for, uh, everyone in the audience there's actually a third worksheet, which is basically a checklist in question format. And so when you want to learn how to do something new it's really simple use these principles as a checklist ask yourself the question and get started do a little bit of research research just enough to jump in put in about twenty hours you'll be way, way better at the end of that process than you are at the beginning I love it that is also do we want to take a question or two and so are we doing on time we got time for a question to drink. Um, let's, go ahead and a falcon has good question. Do you record your progress? Yes. Yeah. So what? I usually do not necessarily recorded in the case of video. Um, but I keep a notebook on all this stuff and so usually and it's it's, relatively simple. It's it's I write down my target performance level what I might wanna my trying to do deconstruction as I'm doing research goes into a notebook, and then I usually log what works and what doesn't, or when I find a critical sub component that I want to start practicing that's where I'll log it. But, yeah, you don't really need any other tools aside from a notebook, tio take notes and a timer so you make sure you're practicing by the clock. Um, I usually do the twenty hour pre commitment as a countdown, and so I'll put twenty hours, and then we'll practice for a certain amount of time and I'll scratch it off and see how much time I have left. That's, that's really the simplest way to do it instead of you know, it sounds kind of silly, but if you log each individual day with the amount of time and you have to add it up you just you never do it so yeah well I think it might be you know a little bit of psychology if you're counting down toward a goal you're going towards something instead of just moving nebulous lee into that later fox is a great question that I think relates to most of us out there we either have a roommate family somebody that we need to get cooperation with tio in order to practice thes details do you have any suggestions for that anything that you know you use is a way to do better in that additionally he's asking about using a buddy practicing oh yeah saluting friend practicing with a buddy is awesome amazing um you know in in terms ofthe friends family members roommates you know the biggest thing is making sure that they understand what it is that you're trying to do and that distractions are the number one way of making sure that thing doesn't happen right so you know it is interesting my my wife and I both worked from home and are often in the process of learning how to do something new and so you know it is just a process of communicating you know I'm focusing right now please don't interrupt during this certain amount of time so I can make sure this thing this thing gets done you know as I found that the vast majority of people if you don't count on them to read your mind which nobody can do anyway right they can't read your mind and so if you need to focus then just communicating that upfront and making sure they understand what's going on makes just the whole thing weighs here thanks uh seth mongers I know that you have talked a little bit about meeting to break these down as into manageable chunks out our marketing and finance skills that you can acquire and if so how do you define that exactly his skills to practice it's kind of a more nebulous you know it it's funny uh the personal mba in terms of teaching business is treating business as a skill that you can learn and deconstruct and practice intentionally away to get better so so I would say if you haven't seen part one of this course or if you haven't picked up the personal mba book look it was designed to deconstruct the parts of business marketing sales in a way that you can actually practice so I I would start there so when you're really just excited to learn new things do you take a significant break between skill acquisitions do you need a mental break from such concentrated effort usually yes yeah this is if you do it right this is a super intense process s so you know what what kind of helps if you won t do this consistently um switch from one topic to another so you know go through a burst on you know, some type of cognitive skill, and then do a physical one to kind of balance and exercise a different part of your brain and kind of move that back and forth. But it is it's, it's, a really intense process. And so, yeah, breaks or good, perfect. So we're going to jump straight into principles of behavioral and cognitive psychology. So learning all about how we work and how we can use that knowledge to do cool stuff.

Class Description

Part of The Personal MBA Bundle

In part 1 of the Personal MBA course, Foundations (link), Josh Kaufman teaches the fundamentals of running a successful business. In this workshop, Getting Results, he will take you to the next level, revealing powerful techniques and strategies for becoming more productive, creative, and successful no matter what your business is. From learning new skills quickly and efficiently, to getting more done in less time and with less stress, to creating and optimizing the systems that will drive your business forward, The Personal MBA: Getting Results offers freelancers, entrepreneurs, and managers the tools they need to thrive in highly competitive, rapidly changing environments.

Don't have Adobe Acrobat Pro DC yet? Save 13% off here and get everything you need for your business.