During our lives, if we expect to better ourselves, we should expected to be continuously learning. It is my goal to keep my blog posts extremely short to keep them extremely readable. It’s also my goal that this post will be the basis for the rest of my posts, so I will reference it often. Here are 10 steps, followed by a brief description, as outlined by John Sonmez in his book Soft Skills:
- Get the big picture
- Determine Scope
- Define Success
- Find Resources
- Create a learning plan
- Filter Resources
- Learn enough to get started
- Play Around
- Learn enough to do something useful
Do these once
Get the big picture
Do some 10,000-foot research on your topic. Get an overall view how big of an effort the subject will be to learn, and what areas you can hone your scope.
You likely won’t be able to learn ALL of the subject you initially had in mind in a reasonable amount of time. In this step, narrow down a specific area where you’d like to focus, and learn just this area.
What will it mean for you to “know” this subject matter? Ensure you define this well, as without a clear vision of your destination, you won’t be able to identify when you’ve reached it.
Indiscriminately find books, blogs, magazines, meeting groups, videos, etc. on your subject. Don’t worry about weeding anything out at this point. Find everything you can and take note.
Creating a Learning Plan
Using your scope, and the resources you’ve compiled, dig deeper into what each resource can provide, and figure out where you’ll be able to find the meat of your content. Lay out a systematic approach to tackling this content and what exercises you’ll use in step number 8 to enhance and speed-up your learning.
At this step, discard the material that doesn’t apply, and highlight the materials that will contain most of the content you’ll need. You should know at this point, which resources will provide guides to practicing the material, and which ones you can use as references as you play with the material.
This is where a majority of your actual learning takes place. This is arguably the second most important step to learning. When you experience things related to the subject matter you’re wanting to learn, you develop a deeper understanding that will stick with you for the long term.
Learn enough to do something useful
Once you’ve played around, and have a good idea how your subject comes together, apply it to something that will benefit you and or the rest of the world. This step is as useful to learning as step number 8, as it benefits you and or the rest of the world, and gives you a yet deeper understanding.
This is, without a doubt, the most important step. This step helps you identify gaps in your knowledge, and helps you determine where you must focus to gain an even further understanding of your subject. There are many formats you can use to teach:
- Speaking at user groups
- Speaking at conventions
- Writing magazine articles
- Writing books
Have fun, and let me know how much help this article has been!