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UltraLearning: Gaining mastery over difficult skills🤌🏽

Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

UltraLearning: Gaining mastery over difficult skills🤌🏽

A tweetstorm styles quick notes from the book 🙂.

Day Cyberwox's photo
Day Cyberwox
·Mar 29, 2022·

7 min read

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. The opinions expressed in this blog are mine.

Hey there! I've recently found an interest in reading books about self-development and this is one I picked up. UltraLearning by Scott Young teaches you how to learn new skills, stay relevant and adapt to whatever the workplace throws your way.

1 - The Basics

  • Knowledge and Skill are different. Knowledge is the raw material but skill comes from refining knowledge through practice.
  • Passive learning creates knowledge, active practice creates skill.
  • Most people who perform Ultra-learning fall under the spectrum of idiosyncrasy
    • Some people who perform Ultra-learning are polymaths.

2 - Why UltraLearning Matters

  • What is Ultra-learning? Ultra-learning is…
    • A strategy
      • A strategy is usually not the only solution to a problem but may be a good one.
      • Strategies also tend to not apply to every given situation.
      • Basically, using a strategy is a choice not a commandment.
    • Self Directed
      • It’s about how you make decisions about what to learn and why.
      • It’s very possible to be a self directed learner but still decide that a particular school is where you choose to learn something. Same thing applies to teaching yourself something using a particular resource e.g a book
      • Self direction is about who’s in the driver’s seat of the project and not really about where it takes place.
    • Intense
      • Unusual steps are usually taken to maximize your effectiveness in learning something
      • The opposite of this learning optimized for fun or convenience.
      • Dabbling in something instead of serious practice.
      • Intensity usually brings a positive & pleasurable state of flow where learning challenging things absorb your focus and you lose track of time.
  • Ultra-learning is focused on deeply and effectively learning things as a priority.
  • Why it matters
    • For your work
      • Ultra-learning is a small investment even if you eventually temporarily scale it to a full time commitment.
      • Rapidly learning hard skills can yield more than years of mediocre striving on the job.
    • For your personal life
      • Your deepest moments of happiness don’t come from doing easy things. They come from realizing your potential and overcoming your own limiting beliefs about yourself.
      • Ultra-learning offers a path to mastering those things that’ll give you satisfaction and improve your confidence.
  • What could you learn if you took the right approach to be successful?
    • Who could you become?
  • How do you find time for Ultra-learning. Managing Work, school, family?
    • Part time projects
      • Pursue Ultra-learning part time.
      • Prioritize intensity and effectiveness over long hours.
      • Spread out schedules may even be more effective for long term memory retention.
    • Learning sabbaticals
      • Pursue Ultra-learning during gaps in work/school
    • Reimagining existing learning efforts
      • Integrate Ultra-learning principles into the time and energy you already devote into learning
      • Ultra-learning doesn’t have to be an additional activity if you align it with what you already have going on.

3 - How to Become an Ultra-learner

  • It’s important to understand that as long as you stick with the process, you’re bound to learn something new
    • Obsessive work ethic
    • The goal might not always be to reach a predetermined extreme of something but to see how far you can go
      • Even in failure, you’d have learned the skill fairly well
      • You might not be the world champion of your ultra-learning project long as you stick with the process you’re bound to learn something new.
  • Principle of Becoming an Ultra-learner

    • Principles allow you to solve problems; even those you may have never encountered before. They provide guidance.

      • There are 9 universal principles of Ultra-learning

        • 🗺 Metalearning
          • First draw a map
          • Start by learning how to learn the skill or subject you want to tackle
          • Learn how to do good research and how to draw on your past competencies to learn new skills more easily
        • 🎯 Focus
          • Sharpen you knife
          • Cultivate the ability to concentrate
          • Carve out chunks of time when you can focus on learning and make it easy to just do it
        • 👉🏽 Directness
          • Go Straight ahead
          • Learn by doing the thing you want to be good at; don’t trade it up for other tasks because those are more convenient or comfortable
        • 🪖 Drill
          • Attack your weakest points
          • Be ruthless in improving your weakest points
          • Break down complex skills into small parts then master those parts and build them back together
        • Retrieval
          • Test to learn
          • Testing is isn’t simply a way of assessing knowledge but a way of creating it
          • Test yourself before you feel confident and push yourself to actively recall information rather than passively review it
        • 🥊 Feedback
          • Don’t dodge the punches
          • Feedback is harsh and uncomfortable; no how to use it without letting your ego get in the way
          • Extract the signal from the noise so you know what to pay attention to and what to ignore
        • Retention
          • Understand what you forget and why
          • Learn to remember things, not just for now but forever
        • 💭 Intuition
          • Dig deep before building up
          • Develop your intuition to play an exploration of concepts and skills
          • Understand how understanding works
          • Avoid having recourse to cheap tricks and memorization to avoid deeply knowing things
        • 👨🏽‍🔬 Experimentation
          • Explore outside your comfort zone

        All the above principle are just starting points. True mastery comes from not just following the paths laid by others but also from exploring possibilities that you haven’t yet imagined. These principles should be flexible guidelines not rigid rules.

    • Take responsibility for your own learning

      • Decide what you want to learn
      • How you want to learn it
      • Craft your own plan to learn it
    • You’re the one in charge and you’re the one who’s ultimately responsible for the results you generate

4 - Principle I - Metalearning

  • Metalearning simply means learning about learning
    • Learning how knowledge is structured and acquired within a particular subject
    • Over the long term, the more ultralearning projects you do the larger your set of general metalearning skills will be
    • Ultralearning is a skill, the more practice you get, the more skills and knowledge you’ll gain on how to do it well.
  • Break down your metalearnig research into - Why, What & How?
    • WHY?
      • Understand your motivation to learn
      • Focus on what matters to you
      • Types of learning projects
        • Instrumental Projects: These are for the purpose of achieving a non-learning result like advancing your career
          • Always do in-depth research on these to be sure that they’ll have the effect you want them to before you. get started
            • Talk to people who have achieved the end goal you’re seeking to attain
        • Intrinsic Projects: These are for just the sake of the project like learning a language you’re not sure you might end up using
    • WHAT?
      • Knowledge and abilities you’ll need to acquire in order to be successful.
      • Breaking things down into concepts, facts, and procedures.
        • Create a list of the things you need to learn. This can always be revised and revisited.
        • Concepts
          • What ideas needs to be understood?
        • Facts
          • What needs to be memorized?
        • Procedures
          • What needs to be practiced?
      • After the above process, Highlight the most challenging concepts, facts and procedures and start researching methods to learn them more efficiently
    • HOW?
      • Resources, environment, and methods you’ll use to learn
        • Benchmarking or the Emphasize/Exclude Method can be used for this
          • Benchmarking
            • What are the most common ways people learn this skill/subject?
          • The Emphasize/Exclude Method
            • Modifying the benchmark
            • Prioritize what’s important for your end goal
            • Focus on the primarily important things for your specific goal
            • Omit or delay certain elements from the benchmark
              • Either put them aside or put them aside for a later time
  • Don’t fall into the trap of spending too much time researching without ever taking the step to start learning.
  • Also don’t fall into the trap of not spending enough time researching.
  • Metalearning research should not be a onetime activity you do only before starting a project, however, you should practice continuous research as you learn.
  • Always remember that the real benefits of metalearning are not short term but long term
    • Each project teaches you new methods and skills to improve your metalearning.
    • Your first projects might not really show the benefits of metalearning since it’s the lowest point of your metalearning ability but as you get better, you start to see the benefits.