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You might have heard it many times how important it is to master the basics before moving on to the advanced concepts. When you move into a new field as a beginner, you have a basic idea of the things you need to learn. In the case of boxing, it’s footwork. In the case of programming, it’s logic and in writing, it’s storytelling.
The reason why basics are so important is that the success of every next step you take depends on how much you’ve mastered the previous step.
Think of it in this way, a building won’t have the 100th floor if it doesn’t have the 99th and it won’t have the 99th floor if it doesn’t have the 98th floor. Not spending enough time on basics and moving to the next steps quickly will give you an illusion that you have learned the thing you wanted to learn. But, such learning is not flexible. Throw an uncomfortable situation to it and you will see how quickly it can collapse.
I had to re-learn programming because the way I learned it was fragile. The foundations were not solid and I would look for solutions on Google for almost every programming question I came across.
Learning the basics thoroughly will make you feel like you are going slow but in the long-term, you will be the fastest of all. This is something every learner will personally experience in their quest to learning new things.
Try to teach a basic concept to yourself through different perspectives, drill it in your mind, apply it whenever you can and don’t move forward until you haven’t mastered the first step.
The best way to master the basics is not to just learn it but tinkering with the different possibilities it can generate. If a boxer learns to dance, he would master the footwork from a new perspective. Remember, a solid foundation paves the way forward to build the tallest of buildings.
When you start from zero, you need to match your motivation with your capability. Setting unexpected goals according to your current capability might hamper your confidence in the long term.
It’s tempting to take on a difficult challenge right away because of the reward it gives. But, that might also break your confidence and dry out the motivation you hardly built.
When you take on the challenges according to the motivation and the confidence you possess, you build more motivation and confidence. It’s like building a machine that keeps on improving itself. Once you have enough reservoir of confidence and motivation, you can accelerate.
As much as it’s important to accelerate progressively, it’s important to know when to do it. When you feel like you are being comfortable with the new challenges, you need to fast pace the process.
The more you get convinced with the ease of the task, the less you will try to push yourself harder. It can be easy to get drawn into the illusion of mastering the concept but it’s because you narrowed down the challenges and your capabilities.
Start slow, learn only one concept at a time. Once you get in the zone, once you have a solid foundation to stand upon, then you can learn from your past mistakes and accelerate the learning process.
Learn from the mistakes of others
It’s obvious that you are going to make some mistakes while you learn new things. Mistakes are the best teachers because they show you where you need to improve.
Down the road, you will encounter confusing and tough situations where your decision making will be tested. The bad news is, you can go from 1 to 0 in an instant and the good news is someone has already laid out a path learned through those mistakes.
It’s exciting to go all alone and find a new path but often you will need guidance on tackling some situations. Someone who already has prior experience of finding its own path in life has a multidimensional view of the world.
What things need more attention, where to invest your time and how to get of a mental plateau, they have first-hand experience of all of this.
There are two big benefits of learning from mistakes of others. One is you will be able to accelerate the learning process and the second is a flexible perspective about the concept you are trying to learn.
“The world is a university and everyone in it is a teacher. Make sure when you wake up in the morning, you go to school.” – T.D. Jakes
It’s important to analyze yourself when you are trying to learn new things. Sometimes, you might not see the results for weeks or even months. In such cases, you need to assess where things are going wrong and where things are going right.
Self-assessment will help you to find the loopholes in your learning process and build a customized plan for you to help you learn more efficiently and quickly.
Great athletes have always placed the utmost importance on constructive criticism. It feeds their mind with the concepts that they might be missing in their journey to become better.
A feedback loop is like a cycle, it takes input from you and feeds it back to you as output, separating what’s working for you from what’s not. It’s important to let go of your ego and be aware of your mistakes because that’s how your feedback loop can be initialized.
Suppose you are trying to learn to play basketball. It’s normal for you to think that you are getting good at it after a couple of hours of practice every day. But, if you just focus on your strength, your ego will take over your learning process and you might not able to spread out your skillset.
Having a feedback loop in place is how you can solve this problem. It filters out the need to take necessary steps to improve in multiple aspects of the game. It makes you focus on what things you are doing wrong and initiates a constant thought process to fix the problems.