We all have heard the data that we use roughly 10% of our available brain power. It is not clear if it is actually possible to tap the other 90% or if that 90% is used in different ways to accomplish the tasks that we need to do.
However, we can all use our brains more efficiently than we currently do. We can learn faster and learn more by avoiding bad habits and processes and replacing them with these simple habits.
Ask for help and help others when they ask
It is easy to believe that successful people all got to where they are by themselves. It is an American habit to proclaim that we’ve accomplished everything without any help at all. However, we are not a country of rugged individualists. We all have stood on the shoulders of our parents and families, our teachers, our coaches, and the many people who came before us.
So why are we reluctant to ask for help?
Many people struggle with this question. However, when you turn the question around it becomes easy to see the right way forward.
Do you think less of people when they ask for your help? Do you hesitate to help other people when they need your coaching or mentoring? Would you turn someone down if they asked you to mentor them?
If you were like most people, you answered all of these questions “no.” So why do you think others look down at you for asking?
Ask for help and learn faster.
Set high expectations
You likely had a teacher at some point in your education who had a poster on the wall that said “Aim for the moon. If you miss you will still land among the stars.”
This saying, though trite, captures the truth about big goals. Even if you miss them you will accomplish more than you thought you had a chance to accomplish. The organization, the hard work, and the team you put together to accomplish a big goal can achieve a lot.
Further, big goals inspire people to work harder and more efficiently than ever. Excited people around you help make you excited.
Motivation helps everyone learn faster.
Expect to make mistakes
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new,” said Albert Einstein. He is one of many prominent scientists and thinkers who confess to thousands of mistakes along the way. With each one he learned something.
A good plan for accomplishing any task builds in time for setbacks and corrections. Some of the greatest inventions of our era came from looking closely at data from a failed effort.
In fact if everything goes smoothly, it is possible that you will learn very little at all. Your world view will not be challenged, your biases will not be contradicted, and thus your reality will remain the same as it was.
Mistakes help you learn faster.
Expect that even your best effort will be imperfect
The Mona Lisa is considered one of the greatest paintings of all time. You might not know that in fact Leonardo da Vinci spent years trying to perfect the face and specifically the smile on his signature painting. In entries in his notebooks he suggests that he was unable to get it the way he wanted.
In part he moved on because, although it was not perfect, it represented his best effort.
In every part of our life, we have the same kind of freedom as he did with painting. As long as we try our best, put our full effort in, treat everyone well, and use all that we have learned, our final product will still be imperfect.
And that’s okay.
Learning to live with imperfection helps us learn faster.
Know that information changes
Did you know that information changes? Do you really know it?
That means when somebody says something that challenges what you believe or know to be true, It is wise to pause a second and consider this new information.
This doesn’t mean that everything you read is true. This is especially not true about the internet. However, there are reputable sources and reputable people who work daily to present the best new information about the world around us.
Sometimes the information contradicts what we “know” to be true.
For instance, in his book Factfulness, Hans Rosling points out that the world has cut infant mortality by 50% in the last generation. Interestingly, the US has the 42nd lowest infant mortality rate, behind such countries as Cuba and Portugal.
We don’t often think of Cuba as having better health outcomes than the US, but there it is. The facts are different from our perception, and maybe even from facts that we knew in the past.
If we can remember that information changes, we can learn faster.
By implementing the changes above, you cannot guarantee that you will be a genius, or that you will achieve your wildest dreams. Adopting these habits will improve your life and speed up your learning.