You can railroad train your brain to retain noesis and insight amend by understanding how you learn. In one case you empathize the keys to learning, everything changes—from the way you enquire questions to the style yous swallow data. People will recollect you take a superpower.

Learning is the act of incorporating new facts, concepts, and abilities into our brains. Nosotros outset learning in the womb and we never stop; we are e’er developing new competencies. Every new scrap of knowledge nosotros acquire builds on what nosotros already know and gives us a fuller, richer picture of the globe. And the more than adult our understanding of the world is, the easier information technology is for united states to arrange and pin when our circumstances change.

We know from biological science that organisms that can adapt to their constantly irresolute environment survive and thrive. Those that can’t eventually go extinct. The same is true for the states in our life and work. Nosotros all know the person at piece of work that hasn’t adapted to the changing times. Their unwillingness to stretch themselves and larn something new makes it seem like they are moving backwards.

People tin can end upwardly stuck with a static amount of cognition considering we don’t merely passively absorb new ideas and information. Learning something new requires active engagement. At FS, we meet learning equally function of our daily job. Nosotros get meliorate to aid you get better, and we requite you the tools to learn.

The greatest enemy of learning is what yous call up you know. When you think you know something, learning something new means yous might have to change your mind, and then it’s piece of cake to think there’s no room for new ideas. But not wanting to modify your mind will keep you stuck in the same place. Overcoming our egos can exist i of the large challenges of learning. Therefore, being willing to admit when you’re wrong and adjust your thinking is the thing that will assist yous learn the most. The first step to learning is recognizing your ignorance and deciding to do something about it.

At FS, we believe that thriving in life ways relentless lifelong learning. Things change speedily, and you can’t coast on what you lot already know. The best arroyo you can take towards learning is ane that helps you go to bed a lilliputian bit smarter each 24-hour interval.


I reason why we’re bad at learning is that we bring a lot of baggage to it—luggage we often choice up early in life and then struggle to permit go of later. If you can let become of assumptions about what yous
exercise, you can acquire much more effectively. One major slice of baggage we accumulate is the belief that if we’re non visibly active, we’re not learning. This is incorrect. Learning requires time to reflect. It requires discussing what you’ve learned and letting your listen wander. You demand to let go of trying to
smart, and focus instead on trying to

We sometimes struggle with learning because we wait it to be piece of cake. We’d all similar to find a silver bullet: a quick, piece of cake shortcut to picking upward whatever nosotros want and never forgetting it. The internet teems with weblog posts promising you can learn a linguistic communication in a calendar week or to code in a calendar month or how to play the violin overnight. This is all bull. Learning isn’t but knowing something for a day. It’s deep wisdom that allows you to create, introduce, and push boundaries.

Popular:   Learn Anything in 20 Hours Ted

Some other reason we’re bad at learning is that the modern world erodes our attention spans by training us to be in a abiding land of distraction. It might experience good in the moment to leap to the latest ping on your phone, just learning requires deep focus. When you’re in a distracted state, new information tin’t gear up itself in your heed, and y’all end upwards with gaps in your understanding. Focusing is an art—through experimentation and creativity, you can build systems that let you requite your full attention to whatever you’re learning.

When we talk about accelerated learning at FS, nosotros don’t mean you can overcome the demand for hard work. We mean it’s possible to find ways of learning that requite you tangible results, instead of using ones that waste time or become you nowhere. But no matter what, yous still need to do the work. Learning should be difficult, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.

In fact, you enhance your skills the most when you lot stretch yourself to the limits of your abilities. Pushing yourself to the point that feels challenging yet doable is the foundation of deliberate do, the technique elite people in every field use to grow their expertise.

Exterior of your intellectual comfort zone is where you experience the greatest learning. For this reason, having a lot of helpful guidance early tin can exist counterproductive if it eliminates the all-of import struggle to principal new material.

You might fail if y’all movement across what you find comfortable. Yous might apply new knowledge incorrectly or misunderstand the key points of an argument in a new field. This is painful. Information technology also offers the opportunity to learn from your failures. We all hate looking dumb, only you can’t let failure dissuade you lot from trying to aggrandize your circle of competence.


There are 2 principal places we can acquire from: our ain experience and history, or the experience of others. Exploring the distinction between the 2 can show united states the best ways to acquire from each of them.

Learning from history

You can learn from the experiences of others by studying history and applying its lessons to the nowadays. History tends to repeat itself, then the dilemmas and decisions you face today often have historical antecedents. Studying the past helps us know how to shape the time to come. History is i of our biggest sources of central knowledge.

Any time you acquire from the past, call back that cognition collapses over fourth dimension. Much of what you know today will ane mean solar day prove false, just like much of what people knew a century, l years, or even a decade agone has since proved fake. Facts have a half-life, one that can exist particularly brusque in fields similar medicine and the social sciences.

Popular:   Learn Digital With Google Digital Marketing

Information technology is a mistake to recollect we take reached the endpoint of human knowledge, or that anything y’all learn now will exist true forever. When you larn from history, you lot draw from lessons shaped past the perspective of the person who captured what happened. Thus, historical cognition is something to continuously update every bit you lot learn both from what happened and how y’all choose to expect at it.

Learning from feel and reflection

In addition to reading, direct feel is the other main way we learn.

Double loop learning is a fashion of updating your opinions and ideas in response to new evidence and experience. When y’all keep repeating the aforementioned mistakes, you’re using single loop learning. It doesn’t get you far. When you reflect on experiences, collect new data, and brand an active effort to seek out feedback, you’re using double loop learning.

Reflection allows you lot to distill experience into learning. Don’t only “do,” recollect nigh what you’re doing and what you’ve washed. High performers make adjustments based on both their successes and failures.


Nosotros recommend the following ii proven techniques for improving your learning.

The Feynman Technique

If you want to supercharge your learning, the single most effective technique we’ve uncovered for absorbing new concepts comes from the famed Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. The Feynman Technique ensures y’all empathize what you learn. Information technology includes the post-obit four steps:

  1. Choose a concept you wish to learn about.
  2. Pretend you lot are didactics it to a child—a sixth-grader, specifically. Write your explanation down or say it out loud.
  3. Place whatever gaps in your understanding that might show upward when you try to simplify the concept; go back to the source fabric to find the information you lot demand.
  4. Review and simplify your explanation again.

Information technology works considering writing out a concept in language a child would understand forces you to empathise it at a deeper level. Sometimes we use jargon and complicated linguistic communication to hide what we don’t empathise. The Feynman Technique lays bare the true extent of our noesis.

Similarly, asking better questions is a route to faster learning. The most mundane questions—the ones a sixth-grader might enquire—can sometimes teach us the near because they crave an explanation that digs into the details.

How do you know if y’all’ve truly learned a new concept? Feynman proposed a simple alternate test: try to rephrase it in your own language without using its actual name. For instance, draw what enables a dog to run without using the word “energy.”

Spaced repetition

Rote memorization doesn’t piece of work. Period. The primal to effective learning is spaced repetition, a technique that works
the way your brain naturally retains information, non against it.

Spaced repetition involves revising information at increasing intervals. This reflects and combats the fact that once you lot learn something yous gradually forget information technology, with the forgetting happening fast at first, and so leveling off. Using spaced repetition, you remind yourself of information often at first, then less often.

Memory mastery comes from repeated exposure to new cloth. In order to larn something, yous need to retrieve it from retentivity again and once more. Retrieval makes information stick even better than re-exposing yourself to the original material.

Popular:   Learn English British Council Present Continuous


  • The more we learn about the world, the more than nosotros tin learn about ourselves, according to Nietzsche.
  • “Cognition makes everything simpler”: advice for learning from executive and technologist John Maeda, including why y’all should teach yourself the basics and why metaphors are powerful for transferring information beyond contexts.
  • Charles Darwin may not have had an unusually high IQ, but he was able to outpace other thinkers by learning how to balance out his deficiencies.
  • Ken Iverson, the one-time CEO of Nucor Steel, believed MBAs should focus on teaching students how to understand and lead people above all else.
  • Harvard biologist/psychologist Steven Pinker’south career is a testament to the benefits of multidisciplinary thinking. Here’south what he believes students should larn as part of a thorough pedagogy.
  • In a charming letter to his son Hans, Albert Einstein said the best way to learn is to relish something to the point where you don’t even detect the time passing.
  • Even the well-nigh skilled teachers struggle to overcome the reality that nosotros forget nigh information before long subsequently being exposed to it. Constructive learning requires building your own agreement, with the guidance of an expert teacher.
  • Chess and martial arts genius Josh Waitzkin teaches united states that the art of learning requires showtime mastering the fundamentals past breaking a skill down into blocks.
  • “Mozart’s Encephalon and the Fighter Pilot” shows us that nosotros get smarter by exercising our cognitive powers in the same manner that nosotros get stronger by exercising our muscles.
  • Never learning to paint via the conventional route helped Vincent van Gogh approach his work in a unique way, noticing details a trained artist might not have.


  • The Art of Learning
    : An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance, Joshua Waitzkin
  • The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda
  • Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, Peter C. Chocolate-brown, Henry L. Roediger Iii, and Marking A. McDaniel
  • Mindshift
    : Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Observe Your Hidden Potential, Barbara Oakley
  • Ultralearning
    : Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career, Scott H. Young
  • Mastery, Robert Greene
  • Brain Rules
    : 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Piece of work, Habitation, and School, John Medina
  • Deep Piece of work
    : Rules for Focuses Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport
  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Due south. Dweck
  • The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle


Learning isn’t something yous exercise at the behest of someone else. You’re responsible for it. According to the prolific author Louis Fifty’Flirtation, all teaching is self-education. If you don’t take charge of your learning, no 1 else will. Maya Angelou and George Washington took the same view. It’s upward to you lot to build the habit of lifelong learning.

Explore Farnam
Street Articles

Are y’all new to Farnam Street? Get-go hither

Mental Models

The best manner to make intelligent decisions (~100 models explained).

Reading Better

Improve reading comprehension and recollect, and constructive note-taking.

Intellectual Giants

At that place is a long list of intellectual giants who profoundly impacted the world with their ideas, thinking, and leadership.