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Fast Learning & Mastery

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux 

Photo from Elijah Hail on Unsplash

There are a couple of ways in which I feel like we can get across our ideas of what it means to be a fast learner. Often, either when I am working with somebody or writing a resume, I see I am a quick learner. I love to learn and I am committed to learning. That is all great to say, but to really get a point across, I think it is helpful to not just say it, but then give an example about it immediately afterward.

Everybody is on the same page regarding what you mean by that. When it comes to fast learning, there are a few examples I could talk about.

As I was having a conversation with a person I asked ‘What do you mean when you say fast learning? How long does it take you to learn?’ The reply was ‘Well, I can start going through a bunch of YouTube videos.

First thing in the morning, I am introduced to a concept. I am going through the videos. By the time I come back from lunch, I can apply it in some ways, just so I can get this task done.’ We could say that this is being a quick learner because it happens over four hours. They are going to get it done.

When I asked the question to that person, they gave their example and it was over months. However, this long period may not sound or feel like fast learning to others.

Then, some of it is context. Therefore, fast learning could mean not that you have mastered it, but that you have learned enough for you to be able to apply it. A valuable skill is knowing your ability to figure out what is the necessary minimum needed to use it for a certain task. Maybe, you will go back and be able to learn more later, but applying something, a tool or a skill, is different than mastery.

If you have to spend 10,000 hours on it, you can then get to the point of mastery. A lot of times when we need to learn quickly or adapt on the job, hours, days, and sometimes weeks could be a long time, depending on whether or not you are working with a startup. That is why giving examples, and giving the context is going to be important. 

Another good example that you could use is how you learn. The importance of learning is critical. So, your ability to learn is your approach to learning or how you learn. If there is a tool or skill people keep talking about or you are being asked in an interview, you can walk the employer or the interviewer through your approach to learning. You may not know something right now but you have an idea of how that tool or that skill is similar to this other thing that you know. This will show your approach to learning is to go do X and then Y and then probably watch some YouTube videos. Afterward, you are going to go around and start to test and learn what you can do with this new tool or skill. Therefore, by talking through your approach to learning you will be able to show that you can adapt because you embrace and you understand the process.

You have a process for learning. For example, the process of memorizing a script is probably why I cannot be an actor or an actress because there was a time when I had to deliver a certain message on cue for a role that I was in. I had to record myself saying it and I would listen to it over and over. A part of my learning process is, in fact, auditory. I also have to map things out and highlight key words and have slides. Then, another part of my learning process is visual. For instance, when I thought through my script, and I remember precisely delivering a talk on the future of work, I saw in my mind three keywords. I walked through the script out loud as it saved time, simultaneously visualizing these words so that I know I can hit these key points.

So with that, as my process or as my example, I can talk somebody through how I can internalize a message and be able to deliver. Nevertheless, sometimes I do not, I just think off the top of my head. The benefit of being able to learn is great. Now, it is about communicating in a way where it shows up as the asset that it is. It is great that you recognize learning and being able to learn quickly and taking about all of this new information as an asset. It is very important to be able to communicate how that asset comes into play or how you are able to do it as well.

To sum up, I completely agree that loving to learn and being committed to lifelong learning is indeed a strength. It is a key aspect of the way that we need to go forward and work. I agree with that. I am on board with that. Then, the other thing is to be mindful of how we articulate and describe that in order to help others understand what it means when we say that we are a quick learner or that we are committed to lifelong learning. We bring in those examples and that way everybody is on the same page.
Photo by Oxana Melis on Unsplash

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