The learning curve weeds out all but the most resolute and determined learners. Whether it’s mastering a new language or reading more management books by the end of year, those who achieve what they set out to learn are, more often than not, growth-minded learners.
When it comes to skill mastery, starting with the right understanding of how growth relates to learning is crucial. Equally important, though, is knowing how to weather the inevitable challenges you’ll face over the course of your learning journey. As it turns out, this is a journey full of potential pitfalls; most people give up the fight here and decide that learning really won’t make much of a difference to their careers.
If you hope to eventually become a master of your craft instead of just a jack of all trades, you need to be able to face and triumph over the realities of embarking on the learning journey. To that end, here’s how growth-minded learners tackle the everyday challenges that come with setting out to upgrade yourself through learning new skills.
Most people expect that learning processes are linear. In this view, you might start off slow. Eventually, though, you will gradually pick up speed consistently until you ultimately reach mastery.
The reality, however, is a stark contrast from this. In his bestselling book, “The 4-Hour Chef”, Tim Ferris expounds on the intricacies of the learning curve. Perhaps most notably, he writes that once people master the initial basic concepts of a particular skill, the learning curve plummets. Moving to the intermediate stage makes everything harder, and it’s slowly sinking in that this is going to be harder than you thought.
Then, if you can get past this, you’ll start to plateau and feel like you’re not making much progress in your learning at all. After this, though, you hit an inflection point, where you’ll finally start to feel more confident that you’re learning and growing.
Learning is not for the faint-hearted. Growth-minded learners, though, are anything but faint-hearted. Since their ultimate objective in learning is to grow, they take challenges as indications that they’re doing something right.
After all, if everything were smooth sailing, they wouldn’t be learning as much. Conversely, someone who’s less resolute about learning is likelier to either get complacent prematurely in the learning process. They may even give up as soon as they stop “feeling” like they’re learning.
Growth-minded learners understand that it takes a substantial amount of time and effort to reach skill mastery. For that reason, they don’t treat time management lightly, making sure that they devote a given amount of time every day to the pursuit of learning.
Ultimately, how you spend your time is the true measure of how sincere and dedicated you are to the pursuit of learning.
This is the hardest part, for most people, because we so often think we don’t have time. When it comes down to it, though, time management is all about prioritising. If you consider learning a top priority, you’ll make time for it no matter what. Otherwise, there’ll always be something more worthy of your time.
We’ve all had that one co-worker who spoke and behaved as though he knew everything about anything, when in reality, he barely did. The phenomenon of the know-it-all is as old as time itself. Ironically, the reason why the know-it-all believes he knows everything is precisely because he doesn’t know anything.
There’s even scientific proof of it: the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Essentially, it holds that when people are first starting to get their feet wet in the process of learning, they reach an initial point of false confidence. It’s easy to understand this; say you’re trying to learn to code. After a few weeks or months, you’d probably have learnt quite a bit (at least to you.) You’re amazed at your progress, and consequently, you feel like you’re good.
If you delved deeper into it, though, you’d start to understand the sheer magnitude of what you’re dealing with. In other words, you go from a state of “not knowing that you don’t know” to realising that “I don’t know much.”
This false confidence thwarts so many attempts at skill mastery. Growth-minded learners, on the other hand, remain rooted in realistic optimism. They don’t allow themselves to be lulled into a false sense of complacency over thinking that they know so much when they don’t. As a result, when other people stop their learning, they push on.