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Of all the things I do in my life, there’s one skill I have that’s significantly more important than anything else: the ability to learn new things and to learn them fast. When people see everything I learn (and have to learn), they think there must be something different about me.
But that just isn't the case. I'm not some sort of genius; I just know how to approach learning in a way that allows me to get things done fast.
I meet a lot of people who go about learning the wrong way, and I had one of those a-ha moments about it the other day in a conversation with a good friend of mine. This friend of mine is a teacher who recently became attracted to the idea of turning her fitness obsession into an eCom business. She didn't know anything at all about the online marketing world, other than that I work in it, so she wanted my opinion on the next steps to take to make her idea a reality.
Because she’s a close friend, I decided to send her a course for free that we haven’t even released to the public yet: Print Profits. I sent her on her way and didn't think I would hear back from her for a while. But I actually heard back from her just a few hours later, and it wan't great news.
“I don’t think this course is for newbies,” she texted me. “It’s all over my head.”
And that's when I realized that this is how most people approach learning. When they're introduced to a new topic that's outside of their comfort zone, they immediately freeze up or panic a little bit. They just assume that the content isn't for beginners because they're overwhelmed and don't know how to break it down.
I didn't have time to explain the concepts to her, so I challenged her to use the same process I've used for years that's worked really well for me.
This is the simple four-step process I use to master any skill that I need to learn.
Step 1 - Research & Development
When I need to learn something that's completely foreign to me, I know I need to learn as much as I can about the space that I'm entering. I call this step the research and development phase because it's when I go out and collect as much information about the topic as humanly possible.
To start, I open up a blank Notepad or a Google Doc. Once I have a fresh page to work with, I just go nuts in my browser. I go to Google and start typing in any keywords I can think of that are related to what I want to learn.
For example, I was learning about selling memberships to the Lurn Center, so I went over to Google and just started searching things like:
- How to start a co-working space
- Selling memberships
- Co-working consultants
- Best co-working spaces
- What to offer in co-working spaces
While the Lurn Center isn't exactly a co-working space, I knew these people would be creating content that would be immensely helpful in figuring out how exactly to sell the memberships.
As I go through the search results and links from websites, I copy and paste links to articles, blogs, videos, podcasts and any other content I come across that’s relevant to the new skill I’m trying to learn. There's basically no filter in this stage - I just copy and paste anything that seems at all relevant.
I know that I’ll never even look at 80% of what I find, but that's not the point. The point is that I'm taking action and getting started. I let myself go down the rabbit hole and see where it takes me.
Step 2 - Sifting
After step 1, I have a scary, overwhelming amount of content. Now, a lot of people would let that sense of overwhelm prevent them from continuing on in the process.
Me? I personally love this step.
It's like throwing everything from your closet into a giant pile in the middle of your floor and then sorting through it to see what you actually need to keep and what can get donated or thrown away. What's left is always the good stuff.
So, I start sifting through all the content in my document, but I don't go in-depth with any of it quite yet - that's for the next step. All I'm doing here is...
- Finding article titles that seem interesting
- Skimming articles
- Watching pieces of videos
- Getting tastes of podcasts
Some of it is trash. Some of it just isn't relevant to me. And that's ok because it's all part of the process. What I’m looking for here is content that I resonate with. I’m trying to find that one person whose content I just love and connect with on a personal level.
Once I find that person, I dive as deep as I can into their content.
Step 3 - Dive
This is the step where my family and friends start getting concerned about my whereabouts because I let myself get absolutely lost in the content I've found. I disappear for a few days and consume information and content like an animal. If I come across someone while reading content from the person I found in step 2, I let myself go down the rabbit hole of their content.
As I go through the content, I started writing out all my questions. I can't stress enough how important this part of the process is. You know the saying that there's no such thing as a stupid question? That's true - but only to an extent.
Let me explain.
While there’s no such thing as a stupid question, there are stupid times to ask questions. If you get the opportunity to talk with someone authoritative, whether it’s for 10 minutes or an hour, what are you going to ask them?
If I were lucky enough to get on the phone with Jeff Bezos, I'm not going to ask him what Shopify is. I'm not going to ask him what niches are profitable. If I were to have a short conversation with him, I'd want to get straight to the meat and ask questions that only he could provide perspective on. Questions that would help me take my own business to the next level.
That’s why I spend all this time writing out questions and seeing if I can find answers to the stuff that seems generic or easy to find. If I'm able to find the answer with a little bit of research on Google, I don't want to waste my time or an expert's time by asking those questions.
After addressing those questions, what I’m left with is a list of targeted, actionable questions that I can take to an expert.
Step 4 - Find An Expert
After sifting through the generic questions I have, I'm left with a list of questions that will help both me and my business that I can't find the answer to. These are questions that I'll need to take directly to someone who has experience in the topic I'm researching. So, I look for someone who can answer them. Ideally, that person is the same person I came across back in step 2. In the case of the co-working space, I was actually able to find a button on the person’s website that let me book some consulting time with them.
I knew going into that call that he had a lot of experience and knowledge in the area that I was researching, so I was confident in spending my money there. And I always always always recommend that you put down money for this step.
When you put down money, you tell both yourself and the expert that you're serious about what you're learning. You get their attention, and they're fully invested in working with you because you've made a financial commitment. So, I book a call (or calls) for a few hours, put my money down and then go to town with that list of questions that I came up with.
You don’t want to waste any of that precious time with generic stuff.
Implementing This Process To Master Any Skill
This process works for me no matter what skill I’m trying to learn. Whether it’s Facebook ads, YouTube ads, or learning how to run my podcast, this is the process I follow every single time I’m trying to learn a new skill. I collect information, sift through it, get to the core of what I need to know and hire someone to tell me the answers to those questions.
When you think about it, it's a simple solution to a seemingly complex problem, and that's what learning is all about. You can learn anything in the world that you want to learn if you know how to break the problem down and take it one small step at a time.
Give it a try, and I promise you'll start finding solutions to problems that seem overwhelming to you right now.