Learning is not some immediately life-changing magical happenstance. Learning is about capturing the lessons that are happening all around you.
That doesn’t happen automatically, or else we would all be learning the lessons that could make us extraordinary. It takes massive and relentless focus when becoming a learner, and that means going out of your way to make life your laboratory.
You don’t wait for answers to magically appear, you don’t learn only when you feel like it and you don’t learn only the lessons that you want to learn. You actively look for answers from everything around you.
Being willing to learn is different from hoping you will learn something.
Being a learner means taking what life serves you—fair or not—and turning it into either the best choice or some kind of understanding. It’s using the worst moments in life to plan your future best moments. And sometimes, you need to learn the same lesson a few different ways.
The key is to keep learning. Even if it means learning the same lesson over and over again.
We all like to think that when presented with the right facts, we learn the right lessons the first time around. Sadly, that’s usually not how it works. It’s OK (and perfectly normal) to be a little “thick” at times. The key is to keep learning, even if it means learning the same lesson over and over again.
Learning is also about curiosity, about purposefully putting yourself in the position to find answers to your questions. It’s about asking questions until you know, until you really have clarity, so that you can be the best you possible.
Here are a few questions to promote learning:
- “Tell me more….”
- “I’m not sure I understand….”
- “What makes you say that?”
- “Can you clarify what you mean?”
Regardless of the exact wording, you need to keep asking until you understand. Sure, at times you might feel like a fool with nonstop questions. But your feelings on the subject aren’t really that important if what you want is outrageous success.
You need to be learning. You probably already agree with that. But here’s the real question for you:
Are you learning? Are you obsessed with figuring it out?
The other option is to remain stuck, silent and scared. And that clearly sounds like the worse of the two options.
The way to win is to keep seeking knowledge. No one can stop you when you refuse to stop looking for answers. Here are 22 ways to become a relentless learner:
Be edgy. Make life your laboratory.
- 1. Keep a running list of books you want to read—and start reading.
- 2. Take notes while reading a book.
- 3. Read a breadth of newspapers and magazines.
- 4. Be a mentor.
- 5. Get a mentor and ask what you can do better.
- 6. Reach out for help when life gets tough.
- 7. Share key knowledge that you have acquired with others.
- 8. Be kind when you know something that someone else doesn’t know.
- 9. Take three new friends to coffee and learn from their talents.
- 10. Listen to contrarian points of view.
- 11. Be grateful for unexpected lessons.
- 12. Ask a risky question in a crowded room.
- 13. Keep asking “Why?”
- 14. Stop saying “uh-huh” and “yeah” when you don’t know.
- 15. Write down the last five reasons you failed and find solutions for the future.
- 16. Put together a list of lessons you’ve learned.
- 17. Stop watching so much television.
- 18. Stay off of social media.
- 19. Take a class on a subject you don’t know.
- 20. Adapt new vocabulary into everyday conversation.
- 21. Be involved in music, sports or a hobby.
- 22. Push your body to the limits with exercise and activity.
This article was published in March 2017 and has been updated. Photo by @Svetlana.Repnitskaya/Twenty20
Dan Waldschmidt’s spent his life attempting (and often achieving) the outrageous. He refuses to accept business as usual—making him an unconventional, yet highly effective, consultant to some of the world’s largest companies.
Having devoted years to studying thousands of the world’s most unlikely high performers, he’ll share stories of ordinary humans achieving outrageous success that will enliven you to launch an extraordinary life.