Do you learn like an athlete or a bodybuilder?


In my first post I wrote that, "A job to be done, a problem to solve, or an argument to win, can energise you to learn almost anything." Alas, every day many people labour to learn specific content, without having a clear idea of how that content will ever be useful. The result is that learning devolves from a highly energising and inspiring journey into a hard slog.

Goals First, Learning Second

An Olympic swimmer's goal is to win the big race. Part of that is the physical game of eating well, sleeping well and staying fit. Another aspect is the mental game of staying focused, dealing with pain and fatigue, and rehearsing the perfect swim. When this Olympic swimmer goes to the gym, their workouts are laser-focused on preparing them for the big race.

It would be easy to find a bodybuilder with more muscle than that Olympic swimmer. But what does the bodybuilder use that muscle for? In contrast to the athlete, the bodybuilder goes to the gym to build muscle, so that they can go back to the gym and build more muscle. The practice is an end in itself.

Now think about your learning. Does it resemble the athlete or the bodybuilder?

What's wrong with bodybuilding?

There's nothing wrong with going to the gym for the sake of going to the gym, or learning for the sake of learning... unless you aren't enjoying it !

If you don't feel like learning is one of the most inspiring and energising parts of your life, and if you don't feel like your learning is truly helping you become your best self, then yes, there is a problem.

In that case, the solution is simple. Stop learning. Step back and look at your life goals. You want to join a new profession? Achieve expert-level status in your field? Be a better parent? Eat more healthy? Great! Imagine what that goal looks like to you. Make sure that it's worth the effort. Then set a plan for how to get there.

Almost any challenging goal that you set for yourself will require you to learn something new. Once you identify what you need to learn to get to your goal, you can start engaging in truly purposeful learning. Actually, you might initially make the wrong choices of what to learn, but as you gain knowledge you will be able to make informed adjustments towards your destination; and that is because you'll have a destination!

Do you know where your learning is taking you?

If you use Dendro, make sure to apply this thinking to get the most out of your learning.

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