Skip to content

Learning How To Learn

Generational Poverty

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions”― Oliver Wendell Holmes

 Learning is the superpower of superpowers, the one that grows the rest of them. If you really want to steepen your growth curve in life, it pays to learn about learning. This simply means that any kind of growth requires a fundamental skill called learning.

We’ve heard that the secret of success is clear goals, passion, purpose, hard work, commitment and confidence. The critical thing that most people miss out though is – learning how to learn which is accompanied by commitment to life-long learning. Commitment to life-long learning is to keep on learning new things on regular basis. This is so important to understand because life has shown that your learning ability decides your earning ability. If you learn faster, you’ll stand out from everybody else. This means that you can have an unfair advantage over others.

The question is how do you learn. Most people focus way too much on input – reading books, going to seminars and conferences, listening to podcast, watching videos and following blogs. There’s nothing wrong about learning but these are all about input. True and complete learning involves both input and output. There are two kinds of learning – shallow learning and deep learning.

Shallow learning – Input focused:

If you have too much input with no output, you gain shallow learning. If you only learn something and cannot learn from it and implement it, that’s just pure intellectual entertainment, nothing else. You’ll soon forget about it.

Deep learning – Output focused:

I’m sure you have heard of the saying that if you don’t use it, you lose it. So, deep learning is the second part of the learning process which is about using what you’ve learnt. This leads to mastering any skill to you set out to master.

From the above, we can see that learning consists of  two parts – input and output.

Input consists of learning from any source. For this input to be of high quality, avoid distraction and multitasking. To improve the quality of input, use single tasking instead of multitasking. Avoid any kind of distraction while learning new information because distraction kills the momentum of learning, avoid it.

Output consists of three parts – Reflect, Share and Implement.

  1. This is reflecting on what you’ve learnt. Don’t rush on learning new things. Make notes and summary of what you’ve learnt. Pause and ask yourself, “What is the take away from this thing I’ve just learnt?,”  “How can I use this information in my life?”
  2. When you’ve just learnt something, output it/share it or even discuss it with someone. By doing this, you’re helping your brain to pay more attention.
  3. This is truly where magic happens and most people miss out on this part. Most people learn new things and get excited and motivated by them and then carry on and learn more new things that’ll excite them and miss out on the opportunity to implement and allow magic to happen.

Here’s the sad truth, when you keep on learning new things without implementation, you get illusion of competence. This is when you feel you’ve learned and are competent, which is far from the truth.

Learning something by only engaging input and cutting out output is just an intellectual entertainment or amusement. You can learn forever but you’ll never master anything. Deep learning which leads to mastery is all about repetition.

My corporate talks are all about how to develop these critical skills – learning, thinking, goal-setting, mastery, peak-performance, etc. Learning how to learn is a critical skill that will surely set you apart from the crowd and help you develop your confidence to a highest level.

Veli Ndaba is a Professional and Motivational Speaker, Life-Coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, Author of three books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON!), Newspaper Columnist and Entrepreneur. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on , or +27 83 304 9773