Erika Andersen on Be Bad First, Part 6

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 6: Endless Curiosity: Not Just Kid Stuff

In this chapter, Erika Andersen discusses how being curious can help us take on new learning and mastery. She offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

Erika defines curiosity as “I’m so fascinated by how things work and what might be possible that I’m completely willing to do what it takes to find out more and become more skilled.” Erika thinks genuine curiosity is a deep and abiding need to understand and master.

Even though our society largely socializes our curiosity out of us by the time we reach adulthood, all functional human beings are born curious. Erika believes we should reengage the endless curiosity we all had as children and apply it to becoming world-class learners.

To become endlessly curious again, we need to:

  • Find our own curiosity “sparks”: We all have at least one thing in our lives about which we are truly curious. Those are the places to look for our unextinguished sparks of curiosity.
  • Fan the flames with self-talk and action: Recognize our self-talk that impedes our curiosity and replace them with self-talk that supports our interest.
  • Feed the fire of curiosity daily: We will need to focus on making curiosity a daily habit to survive and thrive in a world that is changing faster than we ever thought possible.

We can ask some questions that help to encourage our curiosity:

  • How does that work?
  • I wonder if I could do that?
  • Why does that happen?
  • How can I find out more?
  • Why isn’t that like this?
  • I wonder what would happen if I tried this?

When we are genuinely curious about something, the “How,” “Why,” and “I wonder” questions we are asking demand answers. We should use leverage curiosity as momentum to act and find those answers. Do this every day and form a habit that can feed our curiosity daily.

Erika Andersen on Be Bad First, Part 5

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 5: Neutral Self-Awareness: The American Idol Syndrome

In this chapter, Erika Andersen discusses how a lack of neutral self-awareness can inhibit our ability to be open to learning. She offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

Most of us have an inflated sense of our capabilities when assessing ourselves. We do not want to acknowledge our deficits because we secretly believe we cannot do anything about them.

There is a surprisingly simple way to become aware of how we see ourselves and shift our self-perception if it is inaccurate. We can become more neutrally self-aware by:

  • Managing our self-talk,
  • Becoming our fair witness, and
  • Inviting good “sources.”

People who see themselves objectively start by learning to manage how they talk about themselves. We all have a continuous mental monologue running at the back of our minds. But moreover, we change the content of that mental monologue.

Recognizing what we are saying inside our heads is the first step to having more control over it. Furthermore, having the ability to shift those inaccurate, unhelpful, unsupportive voices to be more accurate, neutral, and supportive is a powerful capability.

The steps involved in managing our self-talk include:

  • Recognize: The first step is to “hear” it.
  • Record: Write down our self-talk and narratives.
  • Rethink: Decide how to revise it to be more accurate and helpful.
  • Repeat: Managing our self-talk requires repetition.

Becoming a fair witness (FW) means being as objective and accurate as possible. When someone acts in the FW capacity, she speaks only from her direct experience. The FW role cannot indulge in speculation, cherry-pick the data, say what she hopes is true, or avoid looking at what she does not want to be true. The FW is proscribed from doing everything we generally do when thinking about ourselves.

The steps in becoming our own fair witness include:

  • Recognize and record our self-talk about our strengths and weaknesses in an area where we want to level up.
  • Ask ourselves, Is my self-talk accurate?
  • If we are unsure, ask, What facts do I have about myself in this area?
  • Rethink our self-talk to be more accurate and objective.

Incredibly self-aware people sometimes cannot see themselves entire clearly. For those occasions, we need feedback from external sources. A good “source” should include three equally essential elements:

  • See you clearly
  • Want the best for you
  • Are willing to be honest

Aspiration provides the fuel that will move us forward into new learning. Neutral self-awareness allows us to see where we are on the journey.

Erika Andersen on Be Bad First, Part 4

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 4: Aspiration: Ya Gotta Wanna

In this chapter, Erika Andersen discusses the false assumptions we often make about our aspirations and what we can do to change our level of aspiration. She offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

The first false assumption about aspiration is believing we want to do things we actually don’t want to do. We often confuse being interested in the possibility of something with actually wanting to achieve it.

The second way we confuse ourselves about the nature of aspiration is that we sometimes do things while believing and saying that we don’t want to do them. When we do something we don’t want to do very much, we see it as the best option available.

In summary, we only do those things that we want to do more than any other available options in a given situation. In situations where we can benefit from learning and new knowledge, we stay with the tried and true.

There are two techniques we can use to motivate ourselves to learn something or to ignite our own aspirations:

  • Imagine the personal benefits to us learning it
  • Envision a “possible world” where we are enjoying those benefits

A model of “imagining a possible world” can involve four steps:

  1. Pick a time frame for success.
  2. Imagine yourself in that future.
  3. Describe what success looks and feels like.
  4. Select the key elements.

Begin by deciding on a reasonable time frame for success, a point by which we could reasonably expect to be reaping the benefits of our new learning.

Give our minds free rein to create a three-dimensional piece of a possible future where we are experiencing those benefits.

Think about the benefits we identified and imagine that they have come to pass. Then, describe what that looks, feels, and sounds like.

When we have a relatively robust picture of the future we want, we choose to implement the key elements. The elements are parts of the future that are the most enticing and motivating to us.

Erika Andersen on Be Bad First, Part 3

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 3: Cracking the Code: Michaelangelo and ANEW

In this chapter, Erika Andersen discusses the four vital mental skills for learning. She offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

Erika believed there are four critical cognitive skills for mastery of any subject. The elements in ANEW are:

  • Aspiration
  • Neutral Self-awareness
  • Endless curiosity
  • Willingness to be bad first

Aspiration is wanting something we don’t now have. Great learners unearth and then build their aspirations (or the desire to learn).

Aspiration is relevant because, as human beings, we only do those things we want to do. The good news is that aspiration is not given. Instead, we can make ourselves want to do something, including learning new things.

Neutral self-awareness is the ability to assess our strengths and weaknesses fairly and dispassionately. When masters of mastery embark on new learning, they are honest about where they are starting from and observe themselves.

Cultivating neutral self-awareness is essential because we need to see clearly what we need to learn or what learning those things will require from us. The obstacle to accurate self-perception is the “self-talk.” The good news is that we can manage our self-talk.

Curiosity is the impulse to explore, explain, understand, and master something. While aspiration supplies long-term motivation, curiosity is the moment to moment.

Aspiration may, at a high level, get us started in believing that we will master a subject. But curiosity is the burst of energy that keeps us plugging away on a granular level day in and day out.

The willingness to be bad first is the final skill in the toolkit that can help us overcome the obstacle of feeling like a novice.

It can be very tough to overcome our resistance to being a beginner – the state of feeling embarrassed, clueless, and incompetent. Master of mastery figured out how to be okay with their initial ineptitude.

Erika Andersen on Be Bad First, Part 2

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 2: The Drive to Mastery: We Want to Get Good

In this chapter, Erika Andersen discusses the opportunities and barriers on the road to mastery. She offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

We naturally gravitate toward mastering new skills because mastering new skills makes us feel good about ourselves.

The need to master new skills to stay alive has turned such drive into a survival instinct throughout history. Consequently, we value those things that are keys to our continued existence – no wonder mastery makes us feel good.

There is another positive element to our love of mastery. We are all capable of continuing to master new skills and knowledge throughout our lives. We can keep on learning and learning well if we choose to do so.

In addition to loving achieving mastery, we also love being competent. However, the feeling like an expert can seriously impede our ability to be open to new learning. In other words, we can be blinded by our own expertise and reject new learning opportunities.

With the world changing at an ever-faster pace, we each must be willing and able to pick up new skills as we go. We need to be comfortable enough with going back to being a novice, as often we need to achieve our goals.

Erika Andersen on Be Bad First, Part 1

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 1: The New Need to Learn – and Our Mixed Response

In this chapter, Erika Andersen discusses the rationale of why being bad first is so essential for today’s world. She offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

The amount of knowledge acquired by humans has been growing exponentially. This explosion of knowledge, and the technological, scientific, and cultural advances that have resulted, have also dramatically changed how we learn and work.

The advance in knowledge acquisition also hastens the pace of change, both societal and personal. The rate of change means that our career progression is much different from our parent’s. Conversely, our children’s career progression will look very different from ours.

The same shift – from stability to fluidity – has happened on an organizational level. In the early 20th century, the business landscape was dominated by big companies we all assumed would last forever. Instead, many of those companies have been replaced by successful enterprises that have arisen from new technologies spawned by new knowledge.

“The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage,” said Arie de Geus.

The proliferation of knowledge and options over the past centuries and supported by the most potent knowledge distribution mechanism to date, the Internet, means:

            More Knowledge = More Communication = More Knowledge

Given all this, it seems clear that those who can acquire and apply new knowledge and skills quickly and continuously will likely succeed in today’s world. We face a reality where knowledge is increasing exponentially, where work is changing daily, and where advancements in every area of discipline nearly our ability to communicate. The natural conclusion is that the ability to learn well and quickly is the essential skill we can have.

While we may realize intellectually that being successful these days requires being open to continuous, disruptive learning, that does not mean we like this way of life. Change is hard for most people to deal with, and we naturally often resist learning new things. Moreover, we dislike the feeling of being a newbie over and over.

We don’t like being thrown into that “be bad first” position when we need to learn new things. As adults, we don’t want to do what feels like going backward, to being novices all over again. So a key question we need to ask ourselves is: How can we overcome our hesitation and our resistance to new learning to become those “masters of mastery” who will best succeed in the 21st century?

The good news is that we have all got something inside us that will help. We may hate to be bad at things – but we love getting at things.