Learn to be your own master


It’s and interesting thought, a difficult question and at the same time a step forward in ones evolution. The fact that you are drawn to this, this basic calling, a fractal reflection of our core, means that you are ready. You are ready to be your own teacher. This very desire or feeling will jump-start an entire unfolding process that will make you consciously responsible for your self development from this point on.

You’ve learned stuff before – no big deal – one may say. But this time is different. This time is better. It’s better because it comes from you. It should come from you. If I may start by sharing my personal experience, I can remember that as early as my junior years in school I developed a repulsive feeling about learning, it was mostly caused by our education system. Repetition, repetition, repetition. If you get it right, than the lesson is learned. Something didn’t feel right here. It wasn’t only until my late teens that I begun questioning things. I started believing that just because I did not have good grades in school, doesn’t mean that I didn’t learn anything valuable and it certainly didn’t reflect my true learning potential.

That empowered me to drop out of university, something that I picked for the color of it’s banner. OK, now what? I had to get a job so I could support my new life choices. Of course, because I dropped out of university, the best job I could get at the time was a crappy call center job. Shortly I started to want more from myself, not only more money and a better job, but more, something more important. Knowledge. Only after I had a good taste of how life is, things were put in perspective for me and I learned what was truly important in life. Of course, this is my own experience, and things happen different for everyone, but I am sure many of you can relate to my story.

OK, so I wanted to become knowledgeable or in other words, I had to become my own master. If you look at the (adjective and verb) definition of the word master you will learn that it can mean (adjective) “having or showing very great skill or proficiency”  or (verb“acquire complete knowledge or skill in (a subject, technique, or art)”. Shortly after having learned this comes ones realization, that being a master implied learning and, also very important, a good discipline.

Wikipedia defined learning as “the act of acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing, existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. (…) Progress over time tends to follow a learning curve. It does not happen all at once, but builds upon and is shaped by previous knowledge. To that end, learning may be viewed as a process, rather than a collection of factual and procedural knowledge. Learning produces changes in the organism and the changes produced are relatively permanent.”

“Learning may occur as a result of habituation or classical conditioning, seen in many animal species, or as a result of more complex activities such as play, seen only in relatively intelligent animals. Learning may occur consciously or without conscious awareness.

Play has been approached by several theorists as the first form of learning. Children experiment with the world, learn the rules, and learn to interact through play. Lev Vygotsky agrees that play is pivotal for children’s development, since they make meaning of their environment through playing educational games.”

My perception changed and soon enough I begun learning, not how I was initially educated to, but as a form of play. I begun by exploring only subjects that I liked at first, and then expanded ever growing curiosity to other subjects that were useful for my professional career, my life and my relationship with my lover, family, friends and society in general. For me, the discipline was simple – don’t give up when the going get’s tough – something that always used to get me stuck, became the trigger for my main motivator. After a few achievements I started to believe more and more in my own capabilities and was one of the early signs that proved that it works.

As mentioned earlier, I strongly believe that there is no one way that works for all. There is only the way that works for you, in other words the lesson begins with a test. A test that only the ones that truly want more for themselves – and in the bigger picture for all – are worthy to pass.

I want to continue by sharing with you an interesting TED talk I found on the web, that describes a method for learning to be relatively good at something in only 20 hours. So it seems that it takes 10,000 hours to master something but only 20 to hit the first milestone. The method is relatively simple and the results will surely surprise you.

The author, Josh Kaufman, describes his method in 4 simple steps:

  1. Deconstruct the skill: Break down the parts and find the most important things to practice first. If you were learning to play a musical instrument, for example, knowing just a few chords gives you access to tons of songs. If you want to learn a new language, learn the most common 2,000 words and you’ll have 80% text coverage.
  2. Self-correct: Use reference materials to learn enough that you know when you make a mistake so you can correct yourself.
  3. Remove barriers to learning: Identify and remove anything that distracts you from focusing on the skill you want to learn.
  4. Practice at least 20 hours.

I will leave you with this wonderful quote by Mahatma Gandhi:

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.



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