Congratulations! By reading this article, you are in a growth mindset and you are on the path of continuous improvement. If you feel that you have already arrived and no longer need practice, however, then it’s time to hit the reset button and get back in the game. I will teach you how to learn in such a way that you thrive in your craft and pay it forward to others.
In believing that you are capable of learning something new, and being open to the opportunity to do so, you enter a state of perpetual self-improvement. Knowledge + Skill = Mastery, so let’s consider how to obtain and develop both knowledge and skill.
Google and YouTube are resources that we often use to find quick answers to questions. They tell us, or show us, what we want to know, when we want to know it. Micro-learning like this provides temporary insight but is rarely retained, and as G.I. Joe told us, “Knowing is half the battle.” So according to the NeuroLeadership Institute (NLI), there are four key components to the neuroscience of learning known as the AGES model: Attention, Generation, Emotion, and Spacing.
- Attention - Learning happens in the hippocampus of the brain, which has singular focus. Your desire to learn (like those of you who are still reading), paired with an environment conducive to holding your attention, helps eliminate distractions that may deactivate the hippocampus.
- Generation refers to the way the brain stores memory, and that is in the form of a web developed by multiple connections. When the content relates to something you already know, a web of connection is generated in your brain and the knowledge is more likely to stick.
- Emotions activate the amygdala, which tells the hippocampus, “Hey, this is probably something you want to remember.” When you feel joy, sadness, anger, excitement, and other emotions, you are connecting with content in a personal and more memorable way.
- Spacing means that learning is not a one and done event. Training occurs in many ways, over time, and ideas/concepts/techniques stick as you encounter the content in various ways.
So why does this matter? Training is happening all around you, through a myriad of sources, formats, and media. Understanding the AGES model helps you to retain knowledge more substantially and to deliver training more effectively. But it gets better.
Transformation of knowledge and skill into mastery is heightened when you teach others. Be a mentor. Share with, train, and coach others. You will expedite your own development by lifting those around you. To become a medical surgeon, there is a training rule that is followed and it applies to us as well:
See One, Do One, Teach One
See One by observing that which you want to learn, like watching a video or shadowing someone you wish to learn from. Do One and apply the knowledge to develop the skill. Then, Teach One by sharing what you have learned with another person. You see, by understanding a concept well enough to perform it and teach it to someone else, you strengthen the AGES model of learning in your own mind.
You have achieved substantial development milestones in life and you are still learning. By using the AGES model when learning from and training others, and employing the See One, Do One, Teach One approach, you will thrive and develop mastery in your respective discipline. Understanding how to learn, and paying it forward to others, is a proven recipe for continuous growth.