In the book, Be Bad First: Get Good at Things Fast to Stay Ready for the Future, Erika Andersen shares her mindset and techniques for learning new things well and quickly.
These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.
Chapter 8: Slaying Your Personal Dragons: One the Road to Mastery
In this chapter, Erika Andersen discusses some of the personal challenges we will face when we try to become high-payoff, Michelangelo-style learners. She offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:
For questions on Aspiration:
Q: But what if I just really don’t want to learn something?
A: Try to look at the situation through our “Fair witness” lens. Focus on how important it is for us to have this capability. If we decide we need to learn it, start to work on ramping up our aspirations. If it is something we do not need to learn, do not burn up our mental and emotional energy trying to find and build our aspirations.
Q: Sometimes, I’m clear on the benefits of learning something, but I still can’t get myself to do it. Like exercise. Or Twitter. What do I do then?
A: Be clear on something that will be personally beneficial to us instead of thinking about the theoretical benefit of something. Look for personal benefits that resonate with us – and perhaps for no one else.
Q: Trying to get myself to want to do something seems fake. Shouldn’t I just go for what I’m passionate about?
A: Most of us discover that to thrive in this modern world and create the success we want for ourselves, we need to cultivate new passions. Sometimes those are things in which we have not previously been interested. Be aware of the difference between real versus fake passion because there can be a very subtle resistance to new learning embedded in that distinction.
Q: Learning something complex often requires learning lots of subskills. Do I have to aspire to learn each of those?
A: It is only necessary to focus on the “sub-aspiration” if we run into a roadblock as we are learning the whole set of skills. Look to see if we have run into not wanting to learn some new subskill that is a critical part of the overall learning.
One good thing about aspiration is that it is pretty easy to tell whether or not we have it. If we are not taking steps to do something, we do not really want to do it, no matter what we tell ourselves. Our aspiration is insufficient. Period.