4 Steps to Achieving Understanding

productivity Apr 01, 2023
4 Steps to Achieving Understanding

Last time, I talked about tips to achieve understanding but didn't go over how to achieve it. It slipped my mind until yesterday, so here it is. Fortunately achieving understanding is straightforward. Because of this, we can break it down into 4 steps to achieving understanding.

Just because the process is straightforward doesn't mean it's easy. Depending on the subject at hand, the amount of effort you need to put in will vary.

Once you achieve understanding, however, it will feel like the world is opening up to you. This feeling is simply marvelous.

Too many people lack understanding; by achieving it, you'll be armed with a secret weapon. Here are the 4 steps to achieving understanding.

1. Desire to learn/change/grow

Have you ever been forced to learn something you didn't want to? Notice how after you used the knowledge, say to pass a test, you forgot all about it? This is because it wasn't relevant at the simplest level. To acquire effective understanding, you must desire it.

Nothing makes learning more permanent than being actually interested in the subject matter. By being interested, the biggest part of learning is taken care of automatically: asking questions.

As the old saying goes, the key to learning isn't getting the right answers but asking the right questions. When you're genuinely interested, you'll be asking so many questions that a lot of them are guaranteed to be good ones.

When you start down the path of acquiring understanding, make sure you ask a lot of questions. He who asks a question is a fool for a moment, he who doesn't is a fool forever.

2. Imitation

When starting out on acquiring new understanding, chances are you'll be getting your new paradigms from someone else who's already walked down the same path. This is the most challenging part and where most people either get stuck or give up. To truly achieve new understanding, you must be willing to imitate those who have already reached the finish line.

The biggest issue with acquiring new understanding is the clash between the new information with the old information in your head. You already understand things one way, and now you're expected to learn a new one that possibly goes against what you know.

Either way, this new information is uncharted territory for you. The fear of the unknown makes it harder to pick up, so of course it'll be more difficult.

This is where having mentors come in. A mentor these days is simply a source of information from somebody else, whether it is actually them or not, that is teaching you something new. For example, a mentor could be a book, a course, or the person themself.

It is crucial that when you start out, you simply get going. Don't worry about specifics, just get on the board.

By putting in this effort, you start to uncover new questions and answers on your own. This is the most important step of the understanding process.

When starting out with achieving understanding, you want somebody who can show you the way, whether it be through a medium (book or course) or otherwise.

3. Experimentation

The first product isn't always the best. In fact, the first product is always the worst. Future designs pretty much always improve on older models. The same happens with your understanding. By repeatedly throwing yourself into the fire, you are improving upon your existing knowledge through actual experience.

When doing step two, it's important to understand that you also need to do your own tinkering. As long as your idea doesn't throw you too far off course it will lead to faster learning.

As that one famous quote from Albert Einstein goes, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results." If you truly want to achieve understanding, avoid insanity.

One thing that tripped me up in the process was being afraid of messing up. I quickly learned that there is no such thing as messing up, only learning faster.

When I was learning more about fitness, I wanted to do things as efficiently as possible so I could make more progress quickly. However, all this did was slow me down.

It wasn't until I got tired of slow results that I decided to throw caution to the wind and try something more extreme. That's when I started to see the first signs of my physique improving.

When acquiring understanding, don't be afraid of trying out different things; after all, almost all the best discoveries happen by accident.

4. Repetition

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. The same applies to understanding. Although you aren't practicing understanding, you are repeating the process that uncovers it. This repeated process is what will bring you a deeper understanding of what you're learning.

By repetition, I mean repeating steps 1 - 3. That is, make sure you have the desire to learn, find a mentor to learn from, and try out different things in the learning process.

One important thing to keep in mind is that learning is a never-ending process. Learning is lifelong since you'll always have curiosities.

Unlike school, however, you really want to ensure you have the desire to learn. Without it, repetition becomes boring and painful.

After you get down the other three steps, all that's left to do is loop them again and again through all the things you want to learn about.

Live and Learn

The modern-day has taught a lot of people to do either one or the other. Whether it be work or play, live or learn, or yes or no. People have been taught to see things in a black-or-white manner, which makes life more complicated.

If you don't acquire understanding, you never learn and if you never learn, it's very hard to live. Take the time to learn, but at the same time, don't forget to keep on living instead of becoming another modern-day drone.

- Karl

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