Written by: John Glass
Every time we read something new, try something new, listen to something new, and do something new we are learning. As we learn our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors begin to change. Our brains physically change.
Interesting thing about learning is that it is not something that just happens spontaneously. The most basic formula for learning is a three step formula of becoming aware, gathering information, and applying to real life.
First, we need to become aware of something that we desire to learn. We need to be aware that we have an interest in learning about something first. A desire to gain knowledge and understanding about something new to us. It can be a new skill, habit, procedure, way to think, way to feel, and/or way to behave. Without the awareness that we want to learn something there would be a lack of motivation to learn. As well as a lack of conscious thought that we want to learn.
Second, we need to begin to gather as much information as we can about the thing we want to learn. We can gather through books, articles, TED talks, YouTube clips, and many other avenues. As we gather information we need to digest it. Take it all in. Read, listen, or watch are main ways of digesting material. You can also write notes, summarize what you have read, listen to, or watched. There are numerous ways to gather and digest information.
Third, we need to apply the information we have digested. There is a belief that one can learn just through digesting material about a desired topic. I tend to disagree with this. I believe that to complete the learning process one must apply what they have learned. Apply what has been digested ensures that the desired change is strong and long lasting.
In my master’s program, application of our knowledge was key to gaining a greater understanding of the material. In fact once I started my Marriage and Family Therapist internship is when all the material I had digested made the most sense. It felt like my mind could easily being forth concepts and ideas from years ago as I was confronted with a situation that I needed to use them.
As I applied these concepts, ideas, and theories my thoughts felt clear and crisp. As if I had known this information for all my life and it was finally being used.
Applying my knowledge and understanding solidified all that I had been studying for years at this point.
This is a great time to bring up the point that applying the knowledge that your mind has digested is the key part of this learning formula. It is at this time that you can test out all that you have learned. It is also a time to practice and train yourself in order to bring about the desired change in your thoughts, feelings, or behavior.
In truth, what good is it to have a bunch of knowledge, yet never apply it to your life. I believe knowledge holds no purpose if it is not being applied to create change in oneself or in society at large.
For many of us men, we love to learn new ideas, concepts, theories. We believe that if we can know it all then magically we will be able to be different. We will suddenly change into the person we want to be.
I have worked with a number of men who think this way. I am one of them. Constantly reading, studying, and digesting information. Yet, lacking the training or practice of this information.
Malcom Gladwell wrote a book titled Outliers. In his book he wrote that talent, genius, and success were not something someone was born with. Rather it is something that one can cultivate through practice. Gladwell goes on to state that those that train and practice for 10,000 hours begin to thrive in the arena they are practicing in. He lists off musical geniuses such as Jimi Hendrix and tycoons such as Bill Gates.
Each of these people did not wake up one day and become overnight successes. They read, watched, and listened as they gathered knowledge. Then, they practiced and trained in their chosen arenas of life.
To recap, to bring about desired change through learning it takes 3 steps to ensure the strongest change possible. The first step was to become aware of something that is of interest to learn. The next step is to read, watch, and listen to as much content as one can get their hands on. The third step, the most important step, is to engage in applying, practicing, and training all this new found knowledge.
I close with the concept that for every hour of content that is absorbed, there needs to be 2 hours of training or practicing.
Step out into the real world and begin practicing and applying your knowledge.