Over the past five years, I have taken more than a hundred online and offline courses and invested thousands of dollars, in addition to my college tuition, in online education.
However, I was a lousy learner. I would consume a bunch of content and save it in my Evernote. I followed Warren Buffett’s advice to read 500 pages a day and hoarded loads of content. I thought to myself, “When I am good enough, I can share them online.” I didn’t realize that I was already enough.
To realize the full learning potential, you need to turn the knowledge into actions:
- If you are an investor, use your knowledge to inform your investing strategy.
- If you are an engineer, use the knowledge to inform your system design.
After all, you are not remembered for what you know, but what you create.
As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly challenging myself and growing my circle of competence. If my growing stagnant, my venture will plateau and die.
To constantly create new content for LivingOS, I have to deconstruct my past experiences and turn them into an actionable knowledge database. This wealth of practical knowledge has enabled me to reinvent myself and design a life that reflects my values and desires.
Today I want to share my learning principles to help you do the same.
1/ Have a personal knowledge base
With my second brain, I can easily search and digest knowledge in one place. This enabled me to distill my learnings, 10x my throughput, and share my philosophy with thousands of people across the world.
Here are the four keys to building a personal knowledge base:
- Durable: Trust your system, so that you will use it often enough to make it useful.
- Universal: Be software-agnostic, so that you can reduce the friction switching between software.
- Centralized: Keep a body of knowledge to make the search easy.
- Visual: Create graphs for big ideas. A picture is worth a thousand words.
If you want to learn more about how I build my second brain, get started here.
2/ Have a project in mind
Now that you have a second brain that supports your learning, start to design a few meaningful projects for yourself.
In the early days of LivingOS, I was laser-focused on creating the best content for the world. I would first write down a few hypotheses I plan to test, build out the minimum viable product, and iterate on the launches. This incremental approach helped me filter the noise and focus on key feedback that drives my personal and business growth.
3/ Be a specialized generalist
I am a big fan of becoming an expert at the intersection of multiple fields. By doing so, I can cross-pollinate my ideas and create something greater collectively.
That’s why I had several majors in college. I wanted to apply computer science to analyze social issues and construct a holistic worldview. At work, I prioritized working in different industries because the cumulative knowledge gives me a competitive advantage in how businesses operate.
If you are interested in the detailed advantages of being a specialized generalist, check out this amazing post by Chris.
4/ Stop Consuming, Start Creating
The brain learns better through creation, not consumption. Learning is not about reading books and memorizing. Instead, ask yourself:
What are you doing with all this information?
This paradigm shift happens when you have a project in mind. Take a moment to reflect on your life and name the biggest challenge you are facing. Now turn this problem into a project. Once you identify a hard problem and work towards it, learning will happen as a by-product.
If you are not sure where to start, take a look at your work and try to integrate something you learned into it.