Learn Faster, Better, Smarter with the Accelerated Learning Loop

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“In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer

Accelerated Learning,  is the ability to learn faster, better, smarter. It is a critical skill which will help you succeed in todays accelerated times. 

Think of something you tried to learn but failed. Perhaps a new language, a musical instrument or cooking. For many the guitar is now gathering dust in the corner of the room alongside many other broken dreams.

I believe a primary reason for failure is limited awareness of how to learn.

Learning, how to learn, has been proven to increase your performance not just moderately but as Tim Ferris has demonstrated, enable you to enter the top 5% of performers in a field. 

To deepen my own learning process i immersed myself into the worlds of five master learners:

  1. Tim Ferris – Author of 4 hour work week. Tim has applied Accelerated Learning to almost all part of his life. For example, he can master a new language in 3 months.
  2. Josh Kaufman – Author of “The First 20 Hours”. He shows how, you can go from knowing absolutely nothing to performing noticeably well in under 20hrs.
  3. Sharon Bowman – Author of Training from the Back of the room highlights the importance of neuroscience in the learning process
  4. Chris Argyris – Created the concept of Double loop learning. Applied it can create deeper breakthroughs in learning for individuals and organisations.
  5. Cal Newport – Author of Deep Work, explains the principles which can enable you to do your best thinking.

Using this method I have accelerated learning in many areas of my life. This includes guitar playing, skateboarding and software development. As I applied these I noticed patterns emerge which has evolved in the Accelerated Learning Loop, a process to help you learning faster, better, smarter.

Accelerated Learning Loop

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Connection

The desire to learn – that is, to connect in meaningful ways to the physical environment and everything in it – is innate to the brain. For you personally, this means that, in order to learn effectively, you’ll want to connect your own past experiences and prior knowledge to the topic you’re learning about. – Sharon Bowman

Connection has three parts: 

  1. Connection to place
  2. Connection to future
  3. Connection to present

 Connection to place is about creating the right environment for learning. Applying the following Deep Work principles: 

  • Remove distractions
  • Schedule focused time
  • Make yourself difficult to get hold of
  • Use background music to maximise effect
  • Sleep well to integrate your learning

Connection to future is about creating a picture of the future once you have obtained the new skill. What will have changed as a result of learning? What will be the first signs of success? I often use a Clean Setup, taken from Clean Language, to pay attention to my learning metaphors: 

  • What would you like to have happen?
  • And for that to happen, i need to be like what?
  • What do I need to learn for that to happen?

Connecting to present allows you to identify the focus area for your learning. Connection to present is about connecting to the present moment. It is understanding based upon the vision for the future where are you today. What aspect of the future is already present, what is missing. It is exploring what you may already know about the skill/topic/focus area for your learning. Even on topics alien to us there are connections we can make to current knowledge. I typical focus attention on the following: 

  1. List 5 facts i know about this topic already
  2. List 5 riddles, questions or puzzles i would like the answer to

With this deeper connection we can craft a clearer picture of our learning goals.  Now we have set foundations it is time to plan the learning. If you have a tendency to dive in, taking a little bit of time to plan your learning does enable you to learn efficiency. Remember, the power is learning how to learn so this step is important. The approach I use is DiSSS, an Accelerated Learning approach created by Tim Ferris. It breaks the planning into 4 stages: 

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 Learning from Tim Ferris I have used this approach for many topics. By crunching down and focusing on the most important elements accelerates your learning . Once you form a habit around this technique you can continue to apply it for all learning. 

Deliberate Practice

While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance. – James Clear

This step is all about practicing with focused attention. Putting in place the mechanisms to receive feedback. As a coach, I know the power a coaching relationship can have on maximising your potential. A core concept of deliberate practice is real-time feedback. This could be from a formal coaching relationship or a supportive colleague. The key thing is someone to track, critique and observe your learning in action. This will make all the difference. A common pitfall at this point is too much focus on theory not enough on practice. I have often fallen into the habit of reading a book but not applying into practice.  Deliberate practice requires you to do that. Put into practice what you learn. 

Reflect

Reflection underpins deliberate practice. But, there is a different focus on the reflection at this stage. 

  • Reflecting on the task and result created (Single Loop Learning)
  • Reflecting on the assumptions and beliefs that underpin your learning (Double Loop Learning)

Most of us will be familiar with the first type. We assess the results of our learning against some goals we have set. Did we achieve what we wanted? What stopped us getting there? The second type of reflection might be less familiar. We reflect more on the assumptions and beliefs that influenced our learning. Did I assume a certain aspect of the skill is less important? Did i avoid certain aspects due to a limiting belief.

This is double loop learning. These assumptions are hard to identify yourself. They are often hidden in plain sight but invisible to ourselves. A coach can help increase our awareness of these assumptions and beliefs. This double loop learning is what can accelerate future learning. Remember – It’s a loop.

 Once you have completed, remember this is a loop. 

Summary 

Applying this Accelerated Learning Loop will enable you to learn anything faster, better and smarter. Mastering each step on the learning loop itself is incredibly difficult never mind applying all of these together. However, there is a secret. You can apply these principles to learn Accelerated Learning. Meta-meta. 

What will you learn next? 

Please do share any success you have with applying the Accelerated Learning Loop

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