Children are forced to attend school because we are afraid to let them learn on their own, make their own choices, and do whatever they want.
High schoolers are forced to take standardized tests because we cannot trust a personal and individualized measurement of creativity.
People often find themselves trapped in rigid, organized systems that don’t trust the individual.
Many of the systems that exist today are built on feelings of mistrust. However, there are other systems that are beginning to operate from a place of trust.
Trust brings human connection and innovation. Much of the business world is beginning to understand trust. Wikipedia trusts any individual to edit their knowledge base, Quora is trusting individuals to answer questions, Craigslist is trusting individuals to exchange goods.
But while trust brings authenticity, creativity, and personality, it also means vulnerability and inconsistency.
It means that people will no longer have systems and programs to hide behind, and really expose themselves to the world. It means that people will have to take command of their own learning and creating, and building for themselves what they dream in their heart.
When we learn how to trust other people by default, creativity will create innovation at a much faster rate.
It is no longer enough to just be an employee who follows instructions, the world is looking for impresarios.
People used to be rewarded for their ability to follow instructions and do as they are told, but that type of worker is not what we lack in our modern day culture. The current economy rewards us for being artists, innovating and creating new things.
An impresario is someone who takes risks, ventures out into the unknown, and brings together resources to put on a show.
Art is what inspires people to think differently, go on wild adventures, and transform the world. It’s a manifestation of creativity to create something that has never existed before.
Art is an attitude.
What’s your art?
I recently got together with an high school friend to put together a short article on college.
Even though more people than ever are receiving a higher education, there still hasn’t been a true democratization of college. This is ironic, because we have all the tools to make such a change. The biggest difference between the past and the present is how drastically communication has improved.
At this point, there are two visions of the future. One would continue down the path of escalation and hyper-individualism, where human beings steadily become more machinelike, starting from taking college prep courses in elementary school and ending with being hooked up to an IV at work, continually ingesting a cocktail of Adderall and Ritalin and other cognitive enhancers just to be able to hold onto your job. When everyone is struggling to place themselves above the rest, every man is an island, with no opportunity for collaboration.
It’s only been a couple of weeks since I read this book, but many of the principles are becoming pretty evident.
Learning how to make and break habits is a very powerful thing. Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.
Habits are made up of a three step loop, the cue, the routine, and the reward.
The cue is what prompts the routine. Generally, cues are divided into five different categories: location, time, emotional state, other people, or an immediately preceding action. The routine then, is the set of actions that a person executes as a response to the cue. And finally, the reward is the feeling or result of performing the routine.
Understanding how to take control of the habit loop is they way to build new habits or change existing ones. Reading this book made me even more aware of habits I never thought of. Toothbrushing only became a regular practice when the minty, refreshing flavor was introduced, leveraging the reward of brushing your teeth. Many little habits form a person’s behavior, whether they realize it or not.
Reading this book made me realize how passion alone is not enough. While structure is something that can become dry or ineffective without passion, the most effective people use passion in order to intentionally create structure in the form of habits in order to achieve their passion. And when the habit is formed, people can use those habits to their advantage without even thinking about it.
In the Meta Learning section of The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss, he shows a graph which he calls the bipolar learning graph. Below is a quick replica of it.
This graph charts out the ups downs of each new thing that someone learns, allowing a person to anticipate how they are going to feel as they learn a new thing. Tim Ferriss uses it in his book to illustrate learning a new language, but the principles can be applied to practically anything.
Whenever someone first begins learning a new subject or skill, there will be a period of accelerated learning that brings a very satisfied feeling of learning in a very short amount of time. This part of the learning is related to the concept discussed in my previous post about the 80/20 rule, in which 80% of the material can be learned in 20% of the time, which explains why so much is learned so quickly in the beginning, making the learner feel very confident.
Shortly after learning the basics of a new language, skill, or subject, comes a point where a person begins to realize how difficult a new skill actually is, and has run out of the “beginner” material that is simple concepts and memorization. Additionally, at this point, the person realizes that they are no longer learning as quickly as they were before, dropping their confidence and morale a little bit. Regarding languages, this is the point where the person begins creating their own sentences and thoughts in the new language instead of using simple canned responses.
At some point later, the person’s learning confidence hits rock bottom, and the brain begins neurally adapting whatever it is they are learning, pulling it deeper than simple surface level memorization, working to allow the brain to do less thinking to accomplish the same tasks. It may be muscle memory or habit formation.
The graph then plateaus out to a place where the person is still using effort to learn, but it feels like they are not learning as quickly as they did in the beginning.
Then eventually, the person reaches the inflection point, which is casually referred to as the “click”, and the learning becomes easy and accelerates the person to fluency, or proficiency.
Using this bipolar learning graph, it is easy to predict various levels of confidence as a person learns a new subject, making it easier to prepare for what’s ahead and not get stuck or give up at a low point.