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Weird learning habits

Be your unapologetically weird self. (Chris Sacca)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Do you have any weird learning habits?”

“I do.

One weird habit has to do with randomness. I love randomness [<link; medium length].

I divide the learning day into ‘learning-slots‘. Most slots are fixed in that I know exactly what I’m focusing on. However one slot is random. I have a selection of learning resources, and I extract one from it at random every day. I thus get a nice little surprise every time.

Another weird habit has to do with width.

I like to read a lot of books at the same time. I measure learning in ideas rather than time. So I might say ‘I studied for x ideas’ rather than ‘I studied for x minutes’.

As far as I’m concerned, whether you read 10 ideas from one book, or one idea from 10 books, it amounts to the same. I prefer the latter approach. I actually read 10 books at the same time.”

“Doesn’t it fragment your knowledge?”

“On the contrary. I’m interested in the interconnectedness [<link; short] of all knowledge.”

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Playing with Meaning 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I’ve been playing again with Brian Johnson’s Big Three,

Energy
Work
Love

“You do that a lot.”

“I love it. It’s a beautiful model.”

“What does this iteration look like?”

“In terms of the what, I’ve connected them with another Big Three in my life, three Soul Quests that make up my Path of Mastery:

Thinking
Feeling
Moving

The Quests for endlessly developing my capacity to Think, Feel and Move.

Expressed as identities:

Thinker 
(Focus: Embodiment, Creating, Learning/Teaching, Design)

Empath 
(Focus: Embodiment, Connection)

Mover 
(Focus: Embodiment, Parkour, Dancing)

In terms of the how, I’ve connected them through Play.

Playful Energy
Playful Work [<link; short length]
Playful Love [<link; short]

Playful Thinking
Playful Feeling
Playful Moving

Yes, that’s like me.”

Measuring Progress

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I measure progress?”

“There are many metrics you can use. One of them is time.

Robert Greene makes a wonderful distinction between dead time and alive time. I find it a useful dichotomy. 

How much time are you killing every day?

You can use the two as a measuring – and contrasting – tool by thinking of them as a daily ratio (dead-time/alive-time ratio).

As concerns alive time, the Pareto Principle (80/20) is another useful dichotomy. A small number of things disproportionately contribute to your overall well-being and sense of Meaning.

How much time are you dedicating to your 20% every day?

You can use 80/20 as a measuring tool as well by turning it into a daily ratio (80-time/20-time ratio).”

“What about the time that is not in your control?”

“Turn all the time you can control, however little, into 20-time.

Turn all the time you can’t control into alive time.”

Collector 3

The purpose of querying an oracle is not so much to foretell the future as to enable the questioner to delve more deeply into his own intuition when dealing with a problem.

Most oracles contain a series of messages from which the questioner randomly selects.

The oracle is intentionally ambiguous in order to force you to go beyond the first right answer.

Random insights can force you to look at your problems in a way you would not have otherwise.

(Roger von Oech, Expect the Unexpected (Or You Won’t Find It))


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Why are you collecting cryptic and ambiguous quotes? I thought you valued clarity.”

“Both clarity and ambiguity have value.

Clarity has value for communication and understanding.
Ambiguity has value for stimulating creativity.

I collect cryptic and ambiguous quotes for my Oracle [<link; short read]

The Oracle is a wonderful creativity tool, for generating ‘(Creative) Movement’ – to use Edward de Bono’s terminology.

Whenever I’m in the generative phase of the creative process, or I’m feeling stuck, I like to extract one at random and see where it takes me.”

Aspirations

Seek perfection in your locomotion and training to achieve an exceptional quality and standard in your movements, regardless of what they are. (Chris Rowatt)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What’s your highest aspiration as a Mover?”

“I like to express it as mantra:

Move beautiful.
Every movement a meditation.
Every movement a dance.

On failure and understanding

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I used to have a beautiful structure for the day… and I lost it.”

“That’s a beautiful opportunity to reflect on why and how it happened.”

“You’re right.

It happened little by little, imperceptibly, just as the water slowly eats the stone. The structure became looser and looser, until it eventually dissolved entirely.”

“How did you justify it to yourself?”

“I had a lofty fuzzy ideal of ‘transcending the structure’. Nothing planned. I thought I’d just flow with it and the pieces maybe will fall into place. 

They didn’t.”

“What’s the lesson?”

“It made me realize how much I need structure.

Flexibility is important, but in relation to structure.

The key is Balance.” 

“Isn’t it something you knew already?

You said a while ago:

The goal of Artful Living is maintaining a beautiful balance between structure and flexibility.

“There’s a difference between knowing something and deeply understanding it. It seems I needed a failure to really grasp my own lesson.”

The Past as Resource

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

The past is a beautiful opportunity to practice Love and Gratitude.

“What’s your practice?”

“For me, thinking of the past is like a ritual.

Whenever I think of a past experience, positive or negative, I connect with and express Love for the instance of myself at that particular moment in time (Self-Love). I actually say to myself, with Kindness and Compassion:

I love you Dani-who-I-was.

Then I bring to mind all the people involved in the experience, and send them love in the present. (Active-Love)

I end the ritual with a heartfelt ‘Thank you‘.

One thing to note is that it doesn’t need to be just the distant past. It can be something from yesterday, or even a few hours ago.”

Beginnings: Goodbye London

Fragment from imaginary dialogues

“My London Adventure is over. I’ve decided to go back home at the beginning of March. On my birthday, in fact, as a little symbolic act.”

“What went well?”

“These 4 years have been the densest [<link; medium read] of my life, in terms of growth and experiences. I’ve developed skills that will stay with me for a lifetime. I’m going back home an entirely different person. It’s given me a glimpse of what’s possible. 

I’ve built a very strong foundation while in London. I’m going to keep building on it and pushing myself in the years and decades to come, on my artful quest to discover the limits of my potential, and I’ll keep sharing insights from my journey in my daily writings.”

“What didn’t go well?”

“The social aspect. 

And not for lack of trying. I gravitated towards jobs involving a lot of interaction, which were far outside my comfort zone (maybe too far), I attended Parkour classes for almost three years, as well as numerous events. Despite all this, it feels like I’ve made very little progress. 

I’m an introvert. I can function best in 1-on-1 interactions, or involving a very small number of people. When there’s more people around, my brain shuts down. To be able to function among people, I’ve perfected some dysfunctional coping mechanisms: avoidance of eye contact, and excessive task focus. 

As you can imagine, people don’t take well to being ignored, so they ignored me in return, which would trigger in me feelings of guilt and insufficiency, which would cause me to close down even more.”

“So you’ve been sabotaging your own efforts.”

“And very effectively I might add. I suspect it might have something to do with some unresolved trauma from the distant past. 

For instance, I worked during night-time for a year as a glass collector in a bar. Every night we’d remove the tables and chairs from a certain area of the place and turn it into a dance floor. During weekends they brought in a DJ, and the place got very busy.

To mitigate my discomfort, besides my usual coping mechanisms, I moved. And, man, did I move. I did not know I could move like that. I cut through the crowd like a fish through water, as a female admirer put it (amusingly, my zodiac sign is Pisces). When there was music, I moved with the rhythm of the music. In a beautiful instance of serendipity, in running away from social interactions, I discovered my Physical Genius. 

Some people called me the Dancer. I had admirers, people came to see me move… but I didn’t see them. It took me a long time to notice that people were smiling at me, even longer to start engaging with them in small conversations. I’ve had so many opportunities in that place, but I didn’t know how to take advantage of them.

One of the many girls I liked there was a colleague. I never spoke with her. One night, I think she had drunk a bit too much. She was outside, I was inside. Our eyes met, and she shouted ‘Dani!’, like she was really happy to see me, and came towards me, her arms extended. We hugged through the open window for what to me seemed like an eternity… And that was it. One of the most beautiful experiences of my life.

I’ve had many such small experiences in that place, and since then, every one a promise of possibilities, but I didn’t take advantage of any of them.”

“Do you feel any regret?”

“None. Regret is useless. I’m deeply grateful for each and every one of them.”

“What will you do better going forward?”

“I like to think of my London Adventure as the foundational stage. It set the stage for what’s to come. 

The theme of the next stage of my life is CONNECTION. This is the area I’m weakest at, and my biggest obstacle, which I realize holds immense potential. 

For the next 5 years, my macro-focus will be Connection. During my stay in London, it was secondary to my other pursuits. Now it’s become central. I want to develop my social and emotional intelligence, which are very underdeveloped. I want to (re)learn how to make friends, how to create and maintain relationships. In 5 years’ time, I want to become an ambivert.” 

“How do you feel about going back home?”

“Happy.”

Magician

There are two types of geniuses.

Ordinary geniuses: Once we understand what they have done we feel certain that we, too, could have done it.

Magicians: Their mind works in inscrutable ways. Even after we understand what they have done, the process by which they have done it is completely dark.

Richard Feynman was a magician of the highest caliber.

(Mark Kac)

Feynmans’s magic was his incredible intuition, coming from years of playing with the patterns of math and physics. (Scott H. Young)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is a Magician?”

“Let’s take an example: the Chess Master. 

At high level, in the context of Chess, they can perform seemingly miraculous feats. 

Their magic, I think, has two main components:

Knowledge: They have internalized a vast collection of chess-specific patterns.
Retrieval: Not only do they have a lot of knowledge, but they can access it very effectively.

The important question is, how can they access it so effectively?”

“Intuition?”

“Intuition is indeed necessary but not sufficient. The other component is structure.

Unorganized knowledge is useless, because it is difficult to access.

By organizing the information, you index it, so to speak, which allows Intuition to do its magic more effectively.

Take a look at these two networks with identical nodes. What’s the difference between them?

Connection-Density

“One has more connections than the other.”

“Using the Density [<link; short read] model, we could say one is denser than the other. I call this connection density.

Connections create structure. The more interconnected the information, the easier it is to retrieve – the more accessible it becomes.

This is a model. One piece of the puzzle.

Another piece also has to do with structure, but a different kind of structure.

Take a look at this little evolving network:

Increasing complexity

It starts with a simple network of three ideas. This network is encoded in concept1.
concept1 is used to form a network with three more ideas. This network is encoded in concept2.
concept2 is used to form a network with three more ideas. This network is encoded in concept3.
And so on.

With each new concept you’re creating, you’re operating at a higher-order level, which allows you to manage more and more complexity.

There’s a downside however: Intelligibility.

Imagine you communicated concept3 to someone. What do you imagine they’d understand?”

“They’d approximate it one of their own mental models, which may be very different from your own model.”

concept3 as a linguistic-unit is an explicit structure.
Its content, which is to say, all the ideas that make it up is an implicit structure.

We leave much of what we say implicit, because it feels obvious to us, often to the detriment of communication.

To an extent, this is warranted. The higher-order level you go, the more difficult it becomes to communicate without laborious explanation. That’s why I often provide links to past content on the blog – to provide context.”

“How can you solve this problem?”

“I don’t know yet. I take it as a design challenge.”

Thinker 5

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you want to master in this life?”

“People use their Thinking to master various things.

I want to master Thinking itself.

“If you were to choose a Magic [the Gathering] card to illustrate this idea, what would it be?”

Mind Unbound: