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Ultralearning

Ultralearning has been one of the more useful books that I’ve read. If you haven’t ever tried learning how to learn, then I would say this book is a must read. This is something that wasn’t taught to me in school, and unless anything has changed since then, I’m guessing it’s still that way.

There’s a handful of big key points that this book focuses on. One is metalearning, which is how to learn. There’s also sections covering focus and intensity, continuous and constructive feedback, deliberate and continual practice, how to apply what you’re learning to the real world, plus some some other major key points.

One of the biggest themes I noticed with this book was how the author, Scott, mentioned that the best way to learn something was to just jump right in. There’s quite a few different stories covered in the book, but one of the big themes was language learning. He talked about travelling abroad to Spain to learn the language. He took a challenge to only communicate using Spanish because he says using that method is the best way to learn. There’s plenty of other examples and further context given in the book.

I use this method quite a bit and it works well. One example is the last couple websites I made were with platforms I had no experience with. Rather than spend time watching a bunch of tutorials, I just decided to jump in and work on them. I’ve also used the “long step off a short dock” method on other stuff as well and had great results. Another example was when I needed to do some work on a truck. I had no mechanic experience and needed to remove most components from the engine bay (radiator, coolant tank, coolant lines, water pump, tensioner pulley, and so on). I got the tools I needed, went to work, and got the problem taken care of. I followed steps on a manual only when I needed some specific guidance on doing something.

The point to all that is that sometimes it works best to just get started. I’ve seen people procrastinate by reading about a problem or something they want to learn, watch videos about it, think about doing it, but they don’t ever start. I’ve also been that person on plenty of occasions. The only way to truly learn and cement knowledge is to get in the dirt and do the work.

There’s a lot of other great points in the book that you can learn about, though I’ll cover one more, which is consistent and constructive feedback. You need to be able to get feedback from people who are coming from a place of trying to help you improve. One thing to be careful of here is to not take feedback from a clown who is working against your best interests. There’s no shortage of people out there that give bad feedback for one reason or another.

Being able to take feedback and use that to improve will really help shortcut the learning process. This can be hard to get from people unless they are comfortable with talking to a person in a critical manner, which many aren’t comfortable with doing. You will also need to make sure you don’t take constructive feedback negatively or you probably won’t get any future feedback from the person you got mad at.