Sunday, 7 September 2014

How Should We Learn?

by: Kelvin Ho

Have you ever wondered how we learn? Why are some people able to achieve tremendous success while others receive mediocre results although both groups receive the same learning materials? Was it because these successful people are smarter or more talented than the rest of us?

Well, the answer to the last question is NO! Some of us lamented that the lucky ones just have better brains than the rest of us. But do you know that all of us basically have the same type of brain? Our brain is made of billions of neurons or brain cells. Although very small, each neuron has the processing power equivalent to a personal computer. The storage capacity of one neuron is unbelievable. Each one contains the entire genetic blueprint necessary to recreate another human being like us. A bee that can build a beehive, collect nectar, communicate with others, attract mates and reproduce has only seven thousand neurons. This shows that we have tremendous brain power in comparison. So it is not our inherent ability that prevented us from achieving success. Rather, it is the Learning Strategies that are used by each and every one of us that set us apart.

So what are these Learning Strategies that can help us achieve the success enjoyed by the top 5-10% of our population? Well, below are the 7 basic steps that you should apply every time you plan to learn something.

Step 1: Get Into The Right Mindset And Beliefs

To succeed in your learning, you must have the right mindset and beliefs. Without the right mindset, you will never succeed no matter what strategies you use.

What is the right mindset? Well, it is the frame of mind that makes you WANT to succeed. In fact, it is a MUST for you to succeed and you are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. Unfortunately, this is not true for most people. They simply would like to succeed or think they should succeed. Having this incorrect frame of mind makes these people willing to accept mediocre results in their lives again and again.

Step 2: Set Out Your Goals

Make sure you know the purpose of why you learning this stuff. Set very specific and clear goals on the results you want to achieve. This is crucial as the goals you set will determine the action you choose to take. Goals direct our choices and actions.

Without goals, you will have nothing to focus on and you will just be swept by the waves of life. You will move in all directions and go nowhere. Is this what you want?

Step 3: Come Up With Your Plan

Set up a schedule so that you will know what to do and when to do. This serves as a checklist to ensure that you stay on your path to success. It also helps to plan and manage your time better so stick with it.

I will talk more about time management in another article.

Step 4: Take Consistent Action

Having all the wonderful plans will amount to nothing if no action is taken. Make it a point to take consistent action everyday and follow through diligently.

A way to help you get started with your plan is to have a 48 or 72 hour action plan. This is a plan to be carried out within the next 2-3 days. If you execute this simple action plan, it will give you the push in the right direction and help you to get started (a very important part of your plan).

Step 5: Speed Reading

Most likely to learn something new, you need to read relevant reading materials for information. Speed reading does not mean reading fast without comprehension. In fact, it is meant to help you get as much information while retaining or improving your understanding of the topic on hand.

Speed reading is a skill on its own and I will go into details in my future articles. What you need to note is that not all the words in your reading materials are important. Look out for key words (usually about 20% of the whole material) that will aid your understanding of the topic. This will help you gain your knowledge and improve your understanding within a short span of time.

Step 6: Note Taking and Memory

To help you internalize the information you have learnt, you may find it useful to re-organize the information in a way that makes sense to you. Using graphic organizers such as Mind Maps and such help to save time and unleash your mind power.

You will also probably need to absorb some of this information into your memory. This can help you to use this new information on a higher level of thinking. Simple ways to do this include association and linking of information.

If anyone is keen, let me know and I will write articles on them in the future.

Step 7: Application

Unless you can apply your new knowledge to your area of interest, you will probably not do very well. As such you need to master the art of application.

This requires you to develop a core of thinking skills such as creative, analytical and critical thinking. You have to be aware of your thoughts and be able to ask good questions about what you learn. Understand the assumptions that are made and where the evidences are collected from are some examples of such questions.


Put these 7 steps together in your learning and I am sure that your learning will be more fruitful and relevant. I wish you all the best in your journey and hope to hear your success story soon.


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