It is a common trait for geeks to catch up with new stuff fast. A new programming language, a new technology, a social skill (!)… Whatever that maybe as long as they are interested in it, they get pretty good pretty quick, within months if not weeks. Observing this cool feature on myself i realized there are some principles that are common during this process.
That is as core as it gets. If you are not really interested in that new thing then don’t even try. It’ll be a waste of your time and your teacher’s if you have one. However, you may have to learn that new expertise, to serve your business, personal or startup needs. Understanding how these new skills will help you in your mission is key on flipping your original reluctance.
So your first check is to eagerly want to learn, to can’t see the time when you will be able to wield the power of your new knowledge. Only then you will be ready for the next steps…
1. Wander And Discover The Bounds
When starting the self-teaching process, the natural tendency is to study everything that lands in front of you from your research. While that is required it is not advisable at the beginning. The best thing you should do is wander, roam through the available shared knowledge that exists out there and start bookmarking and keeping notes of whatever you find interesting.
Read only the titles of the articles or books you discover, at most the intros available but no more. Your main goal should be to cover as much ‘real estate’ as possible on the land of the new knowledge field you are diving into. What is required in this stage is to connect the dots and discover the bounds.
Find out who are the top gurus, who have ‘written the book’ and are generally the most respected by the experts and general community in the area you are studying. ‘Prominent experts’, ‘celebrities’ or ‘recognizable figures’ are not your targets, you should aim to discover the A+++ players thus understanding the bounds of the knowledge field you are studying. Discover who are the lone voices in the sidelines, border-lining with trolling, they will help you form a better understanding of the who-is-who and what goes. Apply this to both people and achievements and don’t always believe the hype. Many-a-times what is commonly considered the best option is not always the actual best option. Trust your instincts.
Right after you feel confident that you have charted the majority of the available resources, is the time to start studying. Reading the whole articles, books, how-to’s and diving deep into the knowledge you are seeking to learn. This is the main operation of the learning procedure so be picky and focused.
By now you know who is who and what are the bounds of the knowledge field you are interested in. Start from the most abstract layers down to the most detailed and deep. Try to create a solid outer shell first and then build the deep core of your discipline. This way, whatever falls in your way, any bit of information, will create a structured, solid knowledge of what you are focused on.
3. Practice Practice Practice
No art can be gained without practicing it first. This is the most important step in your learning process and the one that hard-wires the knowledge to your brain. So apart from being the third and last step, this is also a requirement. If you don’t have an immediate use case for the new knowledge you are about to accumulate, you have to create one. Set a goal and don’t give up until you have accomplished it.
These steps can be applied to anything you are interested in life. It is a practice that will help you create solid and rounded knowledge about anything that you need to learn about. The more you observe your learning process the better it gets each time. So on each time, you will be able to say “i know Kung Fu” even faster!