How the World's Smartest People Learn Things Faster
The surest sign of a genuine mastery of a topic is the ability to explain it simply to someone who knows nothing about it.
As a hard working entrepreneur you’re faced with a variety of challenges, each of which needs to be resolved to grow your business further.
But to find these solutions, you have to apply your mind to learning new, sometimes complicated, concepts. This learning process can take hours -- sometimes even longer depending on the nature of the challenge you’re faced with. Unfortunately, you often don’t have the luxury of this extra time to spare.
Worse still? It’s difficult to remember information when you’re overworked and feeling stressed, but if you can’t remember what you’ve learned, you’ll never gain the knowledge needed to solve unfamiliar problems.
Luckily, there’s an easy fix.
Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, came up with an elegant solution to learn anything quickly, and retain it in your memory for longer. Here’s the technique he invented and how you can use it in your own life and business.
The Feynman Technique
The foundation of Feynman’s learning technique is this: Before you can explain something clearly, you have to understand it fully.
For Feynman, learning didn’t involve memorizing complicated concepts. It focused on making these concepts easier to understand. After all, the easier something is to grasp, the easier it is to remember it.
The Feynman technique can help you learn anything. But you’re here to solve business problems, not win a game of Trivial Pursuit. To get the most value out of this exercise focus on learning concepts that are relevant to the specific challenges in your business.
Step 1. Pick a topic.
Write the name of your topic on a blank piece of paper. Find a variety of reading material on the subject (blogs, books, podcasts). Add to your page every time you learn something new about your topic.
Step 2. Teach it to a child.
Create an explanation for your topic, making sure to keep it as simple and clear as possible. Pretend that you’re teaching your topic to a classroom full of children -- people with limited vocabularies who don’t understand complicated jargon.
People tend to complicate explanations to hide shortcomings in their own understanding. By keeping things simple, only plotting essential concepts and the relationships between them, you’ll quickly identify where the gaps in your knowledge are.
Step 3. Simplify
They’ll be times when you forget important concepts, or you struggle to explain things clearly. That means it’s time to go back and hit the books!
Review your learning material more closely and fill in your knowledge gaps. To create simple explanations you need to interpret and understand what you’re reading, not just superficially skim through a text. So keep studying your notes until you can confidently explain your topic in the most basic terms.
Naturally, some concepts will be more abstract and complex than others. In this case it may be necessary to break a topic down into a number of smaller, interlinked explanations -- rather than a single explanation that becomes too unruly or difficult to communicate.
Step 4: Repeat
Even good explanations can be simplified further. Keep revisiting your source material, adding to your notes and revising your explanations. Before you know it you’ll have fully grasped the topic at hand.
That’s it! The Feynman technique is remarkably simple, which is why it’s so effective.
Focusing on creating clear, simple explanations – you’ll quickly understand and remember new concepts. So identify your business challenges, pick your topics, hit the books, and keep simplifying your explanations until this new knowledge is firmly cemented in your mind. You'll be solving a variety of new business challenges before you even know it.