The Key to Accelerated Learning
“Ray Kurzweil [the American inventor] did the math and found that we’re going to experience twenty thousand years of technological change over the next one hundred years. Essentially, we’re going from the birth of agriculture to the birth of the internet twice in the next century,” writes Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler in last year’s best-selling “The Future is Faster Than You Think.”
That speed of paradigm-shifting change will require accelerated learning for the people who don’t want to fall behind.
Accelerated learning is the ability to absorb and retain information quickly. It requires many different parts of the brain to work together in a multisensory way.
If that sounds complex, the good news is that there are proven ways to accelerate learning.
Continue reading to learn how to accelerate your learning process.
The Foundation for Accelerated Learning
There’s a sequence to learning and it starts with mindset.
If you have a fixed mindset, you think that talent is innate (people are born with it.) This mindset is problematic for learning because no amount of hard work will get you further. Brain scans of people with a fixed mindset show almost no activity in the brain when fixed mindset people are faced with a problem to solve.
If you’ve convinced yourself you cannot learn, the brain isn’t going to burn any energy to try. Steven Kotler says, “you cannot learn if you believe you cannot learn.”
A growth mindset, on the other hand, understands that talent is just a starting point and that you can grow through learning to get better.
Growth mindsets are trainable. You also don’t have a fixed or growth mindset for everything in your life.
The first step is identifying the areas where you have allowed a fixed mindset to hold you back.
Maybe you convinced yourself as a kid that you’re not a good athlete. Maybe a sibling was the one always recognized for their athletic ability; because you weren’t, you figured that you just didn’t inherit those traits.
However, after spending time training and enjoying a specific sport later in life, your mindset suddenly shifted to realize that maybe you do have the capacity to become better at sports.
This shift from a fixed to a growth mindset happens all the time. It starts with a person first realizing that it’s possible.
Examine the things in your life that you’ve never questioned. These are the habits and activities that you’ve never had a fixed mindset about because you’ve been doing them for so long. You’ve never taken the time to have a fixed mindset in those areas.
Everyone has a fixed mindset about some things and a growth mindset for others. Identify the parts of your life that need to be fixed by changing a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
The Sequence to Learning
Before you can accelerate the learning process, you have to get the brain ready to learn.
Mindset and optimism are the starting points. The next step is evaluation.
You have to use a proven way (like the scientific method) of evaluating information.
Investigative journalists have their own specific method for this.
Ancient Greek philosophers evaluating information using first principles thinking.
There are many proven evaluation methods. Investigate them and find the one that seems the most simple and straightforward.
The goal is to be able to assess information for:
- Is it accurate?
- Is it truthful?
- Can I act on it?
Accelerated Learning through Rapid Experimentation
Once you’ve engaged your truth filters, you are ready to put your data to the test with experimentation.
Jeff Bezos has confessed that the continued rise and success of Amazon is largely due to how many experiments the company runs per month, week or even day.
One of the all-time greatest examples of learning by rapid experimentation is the Skunk Works phenomenon, which we covered in detail here.
Think of rapid experimentation as little tests of truth.
If you start with a growth mindset, adopt a proven evaluation method (like first principles thinking) and commit to rapid experimentation—there is nothing you can’t learn quickly.
To dive deeper into why accelerated learning is at the core of peak performance, listen to this podcast episode with Steven Kotler.