In our culture we tend to equate thinking and intellectual powers with success and achievement. In many ways, however, it is an emotional quality that separates those who master a field from the many who simply work at a job. Our levels of desire, patience, persistence, and confidence end up playing a much larger role in success than sheer reasoning powers. Feeling motivated and energized, we can overcome almost anything. Feeling bored and restless, our minds shut off and we become increasingly passive. — Robert Greene, Mastery
Mr. Greene’s words hit me like a train wreck while I listened to his audiobook on the metro.
The problem wasn’t that I was using the wrong tips or tricks to acquire new knowledge.
It wasn’t that I don’t have enough time.
I had to look inside not outside.
On my wall, there’s a post-it that says, “Learn Machine Learning.”
It’s been there for almost a year now.
I went through several online courses, tutorials, and dabbled with a few examples of Tensorflow.
Can I say that I “know” machine learning now?
But I have learned more songs on Ukulele than I expected, why?
Because it was fun, I could play it to my girlfriend, which makes me happy.
It became a positive emotional feedback loop without me knowing it.
On the contrarily, when I changed some code with machine learning library, I had no one to show it to.
Once I showed my girlfriend what POSENET could do, I received the most blank reaction of a lifetime.
We all start with a simple purpose when learning something. That initial motivation must be strengthened through positive emotional loops.
Identify what part of learning is giving you the happy juice and use it to fuel the motivation furnace.
“To learn requires a sense of humility. We must admit that there are people out there who know our field much more deeply than we do. Their superiority is not a function of natural talent or privilege, but rather of time and experience.” — Robert Greene, Mastery
This becomes more difficult to do once you have success in a particular field. Our mind tricks us thinking that we have found the secret formula to success.
If we do X, we get Y. Or the perfect algothrithm. We tend to apply it everywhere. Then we lose the opportunity to discover other options.
if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail — Abraham Maslow
Sometimes authority figures can appeared to be out of reach, but if you are humble and ask nicely, they are extremely eager to help.
I am extremely lucky when I reached out to Anthony Moore when I had doubts about continuing to write on Medium.
Then he sent me this comic along with some uplifting words,
When I started to apply myself the mindset of “I know nothing of ____”, my mind began to make new connections with his advice. Everything is fresh and fun again.
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” — A.A. Milne
Like the comic above.
We have an ideal place in our mind where we want to go.
Once we have been on that journey before, we want to take shortcuts on the second try.
If we get lost when we visit a foreign country for the first time, we will likely do better research next time and cut the time from point A to point B in half.
When learning something new, you can reapply what worked for you in the past and save some time.
But no tips or tricks will replace the time that you have to put in, and it’s unpredictable how long it will take.
The word “self-taught” often has the connotation that the person got there on their own.
The reality is nobody learns something purely on their own.
Even if you don’t actively reach out to mentors, the books and the materials online are all written by other people.
I had several great teachers, who I have never met in person, but I am grateful for their existence on this world.
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