To become a professional in anything?

Ericsson is the person behind the 10.000 hour rule, therefore the leading expert on the topic of practice and how to become the best of the best.
The first thing to realize is that just doing something again and again does not make you world-class. There need to be a system behind it.
Here are the point you have to incorporate into your practice of whatever you want to master, called Deliberate Practice:
  1. You need someone who already mastered what you want to master, you will need some guidance along the path.
  2. You need to leave your comfort zone !!
  3. When in practice do it with full focus, focus on performing those actions right.
  4. Find something or someone who motivates you deeply
  5. Find a way to get immediate feedback (as good as possible) so you can see what works and what not.

 

You can apply this approach to any skill the only thing I find is that you can’t always have a personal guide, but books, seminars, online programs etc. can do the job too.

 Note: The 10.000 Hour rule which states that is takes 10.000 hours of deliberate practice to become world-class is no fixed number but depending on the skill.

How to Meditate by Sam Harris

Recently I started meditating daily, I learned it by reading Waking Up by Sam Harris. Here are the exact instructions he gives in the book which I use on a daily basis:

So how does one meditate?

Here is how it works:

1.Sit comfortably, with your spine erect, either in chair or cross-legged on a cushion.

2.Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and feel the points of contact between your body and the chair or floor. Notice the sensations associated with sitting—feelings of pressure, warmth, tingling, vibration, etc.

3.Gradually become aware of the process of breathing. Pay attention to wherever you feel the breath most clearly—either at the nostrils, or in the rising and falling your abdomen.

4.Allow your attention to rest in the mere sensation of breathing. (There is no need to control your breath. Just let it come and go naturally.)

<Every time your mind wanders in thought, gently return it to the sensation of breathing.>

5.As you focus on the breath, you will notice that other perceptions and sensations continue to appear: sounds, feelings in the body, emotions, etc. Simply notice these phenomena as they emerge in the field of awareness, and then return to the sensation of breathing.

6.The moment you observe that you have been lost in thought, notice the present thought itself as an object of consciousness. Then return your attention to the breath—or to whatever sounds or sensations arise in the next moment.

7.Continue in this way until you can merely witness all objects of consciousness—sights, sounds, sensations, emotions, and even thoughts themselves—as they arise and pass away.

 

 

How to memorize anything by Chunking

I got this method straight out of the fantastic book A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley.

What are Chunks? Chunks are pieces of information bound together by meaning.

What can I use Chunking for? You can use is for everything that requires remembering information be it names, a certain school subject, history, dates, etc.

How it works:

1. The first step in chunking, then, is to simply focus your attention on the information you want to chunk. If you have the television going in the background, or you’re looking up every few minutes to check or answer your phone or computer messages, it means that you’re going to have difficulty making a chunk, because your brain is not really focusing on the chunking. When you first begin to learn something, you are making new neural patterns and connecting them with preexisting patterns that are spread through many areas of the brain. Your octopus tentacles can’t make connections very well if some of them are off on other thoughts.

2. The second step in chunking is to understand the basic idea you are trying to chunk, whether it is understanding a concept such as continental drift, the idea that force is proportional to mass, the economic principle of supply and demand, or a particular type of math problem.

3.The third step to chunking is gaining context so you see not just how, but also when to use this chunk. Context means going beyond the initial problem and seeing more broadly, repeating and practicing with both related and unrelated problems so you see not only when to use the chunk, but when not to use it.

Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull

Ed is one of the founders of Pixar (Steve Jobs was also one of them) in his book Creativity Inc. he share his secrets to creativity.
 
 
Fearless Innovation:
  • Get Out There – Don’t innovate in a safe bubble, live and breathe the context where your innovation will play out
  • Harness Collective Brainpower – Bring in outsiders to critique your idea throughout the development process.
  • Fail early, fail fast, fail fearlessly – Run experiments with low cost, low risk prototypes to get a feeling.
  • Honesty is King, encourage open feedback, keep your Ego in check.
  • Autocracy, listen to others but keep the creative control over the project.
  • Dont wait for things to be perfect they will never be, at some point you need to just put it out there.
  • Rules, procedures and processes can be comforting but that can also kill innovation. Be fearless about doing things differently.
  • Be Opportunistic – Don’t fear randomness, embrace it – realise that successful innovation owes a lot to random opportunity and random events

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Book Notes

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

A surprisingly fantastic read, that had some great point. Scott Adams Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, one of the most popular cartoons out there. So here are some great life lessons from a cartoonist.

The Six Filters for Truth:
Personal experience (Human perceptions are iffy.)
Experience of people you know (Even more unreliable.)
Experts (They work for money, not truth.)
Scientific studies (Correlation is not causation.)
Common sense (A good way to be mistaken with complete confidence.)
Pattern recognition (Patterns, coincidence, and personal bias look alike.)
In our messy, flawed lives, the nearest we can get to truth is consistency. Consistency is the bedrock of the scientific method.
When seeking truth, your best bet is to look for confirmation on at least two of the dimensions I listed.
Failure always brings something valuable with it. I don’t let it leave until I extract that value.
Failure is where success likes to hide in plain sight. Everything you want out of life is in that huge, bubbling vat of failure. The trick is to get the good stuff out.
So sometimes passion is simply a by-product of knowing you will be good at something your job is not your job; your job is to find a better job
 
Systems vs Goals
Let’s agree that goals are a reach-it-and-be-done situation, whereas a system is something you do on a regular basis with a reasonable expectation that doing so will get you to a better place in your life. Systems have no deadlines, and on any given day you probably can’t tell if they’re moving you in the right direction. My proposition is that if you study people who succeed, you will see that most of them follow systems, not goals.
In the exercise realm, running a marathon in under four hours is a goal, but exercising daily is a system. In business, making a million dollars is a goal, but being a serial entrepreneur is a system.
Warren Buffett’s system for investing involves buying undervalued companies and holding them forever, or at least until something major changes.
One of my systems involves continually looking for patterns in life.
“If you want success, figure out the price, then pay it.”
Manage your Energy not Time
Maximizing my personal energy means eating right, exercising, avoiding unnecessary stress, getting enough sleep, and all of the obvious steps. But it also means having something in my life that makes me excited to wake up.
My proposition is that organizing your life to optimize your personal energy will add up to something incredible that is more good than bad.
Simplification frees up energy, making everything else you do just a little bit easier
Exercise, food, and sleep should be your first buttons to push if you’re trying to elevate your attitude and raise your energy
increasing your ratio of happy thoughts to disturbing thoughts
working on projects that have a real chance of changing the world, helping humanity, and/or making a billion dollars.
“Success at anything has a spillover effect on other things”
The Success Formula: Every Skill You Acquire Doubles Your Odds of Success merely good —not extraordinary—at more than one skill.
It helps to see the world as math and not magic, success is a numbers game the more trys the more chances for success.
  • Skills worth learning:
  • Public speaking
  • Psychology
  • Business writing
  • Accounting Design (the basics)
  • Conversation
  • Overcoming shyness
  • Second language
  • Golf (one of the best ways to network with powerful people “The thing that golf does well is that it allows males, especially, to bond.”)
  • Proper grammar
  • Persuasion
  • Technology (hobby level)
  • Proper voice technique
What are common traits in successful people?
  • Lack of fear of embarrassment
  • Education (the right kind)
  • Exercise
People who enjoy humor are simply more attractive than people who don’t.
Affirmations: 
 
Affirmations are simply the practice of repeating to yourself what you want to achieve while imagining the outcome you want.
You can write it, speak it, or just think it in sentence form. The typical form of an affirmation would be “I, Scott Adams, will become an astronaut.” The details of affirmations probably don’t matter much because the process is about improving your focus, not summoning magic.
Luck
The biggest component of luck is timing.
But I did make it easier for luck to find me, and I was thoroughly prepared when it did
Luck won’t give you a strategy or a system—you have to do that part yourself.
I find it helpful to see the world as a slot machine that doesn’t ask you to put money in. All it asks is your time, focus, and energy to pull the handle over and over.
If your gut feeling (intuition) disagrees with the experts, take that seriously. You might be experiencing some pattern recognition that you can’t yet verbalize.
Happiness:
The only reasonable goal in life is maximizing your total lifetime experience of something called happiness.
I’ve transformed work into pleasure simply by having control over when I do it.
Happiness has more to do with where you’re heading than where you are
When you choose a career, consider whether it will lead to a lifetime of ever-improved performance, a plateau, or a steady decline in your skills.
Never waste a brain cell in the morning trying to figure out what to do, always have the day planed out in advance. Have Routines that you follow.
Recapping the happiness formula: Eat right. Exercise. Get enough sleep. Imagine an incredible future (even if you don’t believe it). Work toward a flexible schedule. Do things you can steadily improve at. Help others (if you’ve already helped yourself). Reduce daily decisions to routine.
Focus on your diet first and get that right so you have enough energy to want to exercise. Exercise will further improve your energy, and that in turn will make you more productive, more creative, more positive, more socially desirable, and more able to handle life’s little bumps. Once you optimize your personal energy, all you need for success is luck.
You can’t directly control luck, but you can move from strategies with bad odds to strategies with good odds. For example, learning multiple skills makes your odds of success dramatically higher than learning one skill. If you learn to control your ego, you can pick strategies that scare off the people who fear embarrassment, thus allowing you to compete against a smaller field. And if you stay in the game long enough, luck has a better chance of finding you. Avoid career traps such as pursuing jobs that require you to sell your limited supply of time while preparing you for nothing better.
Happiness tends to happen naturally whenever you have good health, resources, and a flexible schedule. Get your health right first, acquire resources and new skills through hard work, and look for an opportunity that gives you a flexible schedule someday.
Develop a habit of simplifying. Learn how to make small talk with strangers, and learn how to avoid being an asshole
If you control the inputs, you can determine the outcomes, give or take some luck.
Look for patterns in every part of life, from diet to exercise to any component of success. Try to find scientific backing for your observed patterns, and use yourself as a laboratory to see if the patterns hold for you.
Most important, understand that goals are for losers and systems are for winners. People who seem to have good luck are often the people who have a system that allows luck to find them.
And always remember that failure is your friend. It is the raw material of success. Invite it in. Learn from it. And don’t let it leave until you pick its pocket. That’s a system.

Lessons of History by Will Durant, Book Notes

Will Durant is probably the best historian I ever read and Lessons of History is one of his masterpieces, here are some of the notes.

If you want unity among people/nations one of the best ways is by having a common enemy. You can see this in companies as well as on an international level.

When looking at history, 99% of all ideas are inferior to the ideas that they seek to replace. This is why new ideas should go through the fire of objection, by testing them in real world and being open for the results.

In general we are judged by our ability to produce whatever that might be. 

We always find ways to be miserably it does not matter how much good things are around us.

The Lessons of Biology:
  • Life is competition, we love to compete with each other this also is something our nature is responsible for.
  • Life is selection, “only the strongest survive” is not phrase made up by people but by nature itself.
  • Breeding is the primary goal nature has for us. This is why most things we want are somehow related to finding a mate.
Dealing with Challenges

What are the most important traits when dealing with challenges;

  • Initiative to change things for the better
  • Creativity in meeting these challenges
  • Clarity of mind, seeing things as they are
  • Energy  to do the things necessary
  • The ability to adapt to the new situation this challenge might bring about.
Quotes:

“Mans sins might be a relict of his rise rather than the stigma of his fall”

“There is no Humorist like History”

“Man who can manage man, manage the man who can manage only things, and the man who can manage money manages all”

“Money is the last thing a wise man will hoard”

“Life has no inherent claim to eternity, whether its individuals or states … a mature mind will not take offense in the coming of death”

 

 

Books I recommend by Will Durant:

The Lessons of History

The Story of Philosophy

Heroes of History

The Importance of Experimenting

One thing seems to be common in every successful person is the willingness to experiment and try new ways, even try things that have never been done before.

Taking risks is often associated with experimenting but the fact is most succesful people take calculated risk, rarely do they put everything on the line. The best risks are the risks where there limited downside but unlimited upside keep that in mind. Successful people calculate what that limited downside is (losing x Dollars, wasting x amount of Time, …) and then either go all in or stay away.

Often we fear embarrassment much more than losing some money or time keep that in mind. We act of fail to act in order to protect our Ego, when we see something as potentially damaging our reputation we automatically disregard it. There is no way around it every successful person that made it big risked to get laughed at (and most did) it’s a price worth paying.

Here are some of the most important points to keep in mind about experiments:

  • Dont run the experiment for too short nor for too long, 3 Months is a good time frame. It is long enough to establish a new habit (it takes about 67 days)  but short enough to not waste your time.
  • Have a plan. Write out the important steps you need to take.
  • Pin point possible failure-points. Identify the obstacles that you will face. And make a strategy on how to get around them.
  • Find a way to measure your progress. You need to know if your effort bares fruits.
  • Get other people involved, it helps to bounce around ideas with other people.
  • There is no failed experiment you only fail when you don’t learn anything from it.
  • Be aware of the fact that most experiments fail, and that there is nothing bad about it.
  • Make sure that you stay in the game after you failed. Dont make bets that are so huge that you are out of the game, be sure that even when you fail you have the capacity to try again.
  • Dont stick to it for too long, we often fall in love with a business idea and don’t want to let it go, this will cost you a lot of time. Keep your Ego in check, don’t be afraid to quit something that does not work ( read The Dip by Seth Godin on that).
  • Seek honest Feedback and be humble enough to take it. You need to build trust for people to give you their honest opinion.
  • You can experiment in every area of life and don’t just stick to something because it worked in the past or because it is comfortable.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone, Newsletter Summary

 Jeff Bezos build a 290 Billion Dollar Company called Amazon.com, here are some of the lessons from his biography.
  • Always try to remove friction from the customer experience, make it as simple as possible for people.
  • Invent your way out of the hole, we all face adversity, the best way to beat is by searching for a new way.
  • Regret minimization, try to minimize the regret you will have at the end of your life. This is in Bezos opinion the best way to live a good life.
  • Everything that is not a Law of Nature is up to debate.
  • Amazon’s core values: Customer obsession, frugality, bias for action, ownership and high bar for talent
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment, go by trial and error.
  • Have a Chess Grand Masters view of the competitive landscape. Know everything about your competition.
  • Bezos made is a habit to record every idea in a notebook (you could use Evernote for that(.
  • Think Work-Life-Harmony not Work Life Balance, live an integrated life.

If you want to pick this book up click here.

Make it Stick by Peter Brown

Here are the general Notes to the book Make it Stick by Peter Brown, and here are the Principles to learn anything

Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful. Learning that’s easy is like writing in sand, here today and gone tomorrow. We are poor judges of when we are learning well and when we’re not.

If you’re just engaging in mechanical repetition, it’s true, you quickly hit the limit of what you can keep in mind. However, if you practice elaboration, there’s no known limit to how much you can learn. Elaboration is the process of giving new material meaning by expressing it in your own words and connecting it with what you already know. The more you can explain about the way your new learning relates to your prior knowledge, the stronger your grasp of the new learning will be, and the more connections you create that will help you remember it later.

People who learn to extract the key ideas from new material and organize them into a mental model and connect that model to prior knowledge show an advantage in learning complex mastery. A mental model is a mental representation of some external reality.

Fallacies:

  • If they can make learning easier and faster, the learning will be better. Much research turns this belief on its head: when learning is harder, it’s stronger and lasts longer!
  • What is learned through repetition only lasts shortly.
  • Rereading has three strikes against it. It is time consuming. It doesn’t result in durable memory. And it often involves a kind of unwitting self-deception, as growing familiarity with the text comes to feel like mastery of the content. Rising familiarity with a text and fluency in reading it can create an illusion of mastery.

Learning is stronger when it matters, when the abstract is made concrete and personal! Apply what you read about to your life.

Mastery requires both the possession of ready knowledge and the conceptual understanding of how to use it.

One of the most striking research findings is the power of active retrieval—testing—to strengthen memory, and that the more effortful the retrieval, the stronger the benefit. Think quiz versus rereading. The act of retrieving learning from memory has two profound benefits. One, it tells you what you know and don’t know, and therefore where to focus further  improve the areas where you’re weak. Two, recalling what you have learned causes your brain to reconsolidate the memory, which strengthens its connections to what you already know and makes it easier for you to recall in the future. In effect, retrieval—testing—interrupts forgetting.

 Chapter Summaries:
  1. Chapter: Effortful learning changes the brain, building new connections and capability. This single fact—that our intellectual abilities are not fixed from birth but are, to a considerable degree, ours to shape—is a resounding answer to the nagging voice that too often asks us “Why bother?” We make the effort because the effort itself extends the boundaries of our abilities.
  2. Chapter: Sometimes the most powerful feedback for calibrating your sense of what you do and don’t know are the mistakes you make in the field, assuming you survive them and are receptive to the lesson.
  3. Chapter: Structure is all around us and available to us through the poet’s medium of metaphor. A tree, with its roots, trunk, and branches. A river. A village, encompassing streets and blocks, houses and stores and offices. The structure of the village explains how these elements are interconnected so that the village has a life and a significance that would not exist if these elements were scattered randomly across an empty landscape. By abstracting the underlying rules and piecing them into a structure, you go for more than knowledge. You go for knowhow. And that kind of mastery will put you ahead.
  4. Chapter: Learning is at least a three-step process:
    1. initial encoding of information is held in short-term working memory before being consolidated into a cohesive representation of knowledge in long-term memory.
    2. Consolidation reorganizes and stabilizes memory traces, gives them meaning, and makes connections to past experiences and to other knowledge already stored in long-term memory.
    3. Retrieval updates learning and enables you to apply it when you need it. Retrieval practice that’s easy does little to strengthen learning; the more difficult the practice, the greater the benefit.
    4. Learning always builds on a store of prior knowledge. We interpret and remember events by building connections to what we already know. Long-term memory capacity is virtually limitless: the more you know, the more possible connections you have for adding new knowledge.
    5. Trying to come up with an answer rather than having it presented to you, or trying to solve a problem before being shown the solution, leads to better learning and longer retention of the correct answer or solution, even when your attempted response is wrong, so long as corrective feedback is provided.
  5. Chapter: interweaving two or more subjects during practice also provides a form of spacing. interweaving can also help you develop your ability to discriminate later between different kinds of problems and select the right tool from your growing toolkit of solutions. In interweaving, you don’t move from a complete practice set of one topic to go to another. You switch before each practice is complete.

The Most Effective Ways to Study !

I recently read the book Make it Stick by Peter C. Brown  which is about strategies that actually work for learning, these are  applicable not only for students but for everybody that want’s to learn anything new. These are for the most part direct quotes from the book!

Strategies:

1.Practice Retrieving New Learning from Memory:
“Retrieval practice” means self-quizzing. Retrieving knowledge and skill from memory should become your primary study strategy in place of rereading. How to use retrieval practice as a study strategy: When you read a text or study lecture notes, pause periodically to ask yourself questions like these, without looking in the text: What are the key ideas? What terms or ideas are new to me? How would I define them? How do the ideas relate to what I already know?

Generating questions for yourself and writing down the answers is also a good way to study. Set aside a little time every week throughout the semester to quiz yourself on the material in a course, both the current week’s work and material covered in prior weeks. When you quiz yourself, check your answers to make sure that your judgments of what you know and don’t know are accurate. Use quizzing to identify areas of weak mastery, and focus your studying to make them strong.

The harder it is for you to recall new learning from memory, the greater the benefit of doing so. But what you don’t sense when you’re struggling to retrieve new learning is the fact that every time you work hard to recall a memory, you actually strengthen it.

2.Space Out Your Retrieval Practice
Spaced practice means studying information more than once but leaving considerable time between practice sessions. How to use spaced practice as a study strategy: Establish a schedule of self-quizzing that allows time to elapse between study sessions. How much time? It depends on the material. If you are learning a set of names and faces, you will need to review them within a few minutes of your first encounter, because these associations are forgotten quickly. New material in a text may need to be revisited within a day.

3.Interleave the Study of Different Problem Types
What does this mean? If you’re trying to learn mathematical formulas, study more than one type at a time, so that you are alternating between different problems that call for different solutions.

Mix in the practice of other subjects, other skills, constantly challenging your ability to recognize the problem type and select the right solution.

4.ELABORATION

Elaboration is the process of finding additional layers of meaning in new material. For instance: Examples include relating the material to what you already know, explaining it to somebody else in your own words, or explaining how it relates to your life outside of class. A powerful form of elaboration is to discover a metaphor or visual image for the new material. For example, to better grasp the principles of angular momentum in physics, visualize how a figure skater’s rotation speeds up as her arms are drawn into her body.

5.GENERATION
Generation is an attempt to answer a question or solve a problem before being shown the answer or the solution. For instance: On a small level, the act of filling in a missing word in a text (that is, generating the word yourself rather than having it supplied by the writer) results in better learning and memory of the text than simply reading a complete text.

Many people perceive their learning is most effective when it is experiential—that is, learning by doing rather than by reading a text or hearing a lecture.

6. REFLECTION
is a combination of retrieval practice and elaboration that adds layers to learning and strengthens skills. What is it? Reflection is the act of taking a few minutes to review what has been learned in a recent class or experience and asking yourself questions. What went well? What could have gone better? What other knowledge or experiences does it remind you of?

7. CALIBRATION
is the act of aligning your judgments of what you know and don’t know with objective feedback so as to avoid being carried off by the illusions.

Calibration is simply the act of using an objective instrument to clear away illusions and adjust your judgment to better reflect reality. The aim is to be sure that your sense of what you know and can do is accurate.

 

I highly recommend reading this book if you are serious about learning something new from books specifically. You can buy it here.