Tag Archive | Principles

The most important principle of learning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the most important principle of learning?”

“Is it feedback?”

“Indeed, without feedback, no learning is possible. 
However if you don’t act on the feedback, no learning occurs.
And if you don’t process the feedback, you can’t act on it.”

“Reminds me of Ray Dalio’s five-step process: 

I turned it into a model which I call Problem/Diagnosis/Design.”

“That is the very structure of a learning cycle. I phrase it differently:

Reflection (Understanding)
Design (Implementation, Optimization)

But, in essence, it’s the same thing.”

“Is learning cycles the most important principle of learning?”

“I always like to remind myself that we don’t know what we don’t know.

What matters is that it has beautiful practical application.”

Learning Principles

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own. (Bruce Lee)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Why do you read so much about learning?”

“Because I realized no one tells the whole story. No one.

Every book is a meta-source, a compilation of other sources, more or less integrated within one’s own experience.

In the process, I’m creating my own system of learning, and continually optimizing it, with the goal of maximizing learning efficiency. I call this system, Optimal Learning.

As a strategy, I’m focusing on principles. I want to identify the fundamental principles of learning.”

“What principles have you identified so far?”

“One of the most important principles, I know form Eben Pagan:

Learning = Behavior Change

I thought it would be fun to identify those principles that can be expressed with the same structure:

Learning = x

These are the ones I’ve come up with so far:

Learning = Creating
Learning = Transfer

I view learning as a creative process, and a means of practicing creativity and imagination. I call this principle, Creative Learning.
The most valuable knowledge is that which is most transferable, which has the widest creative application in one’s life.

Learning = Reaching

Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful, when you’re stretching yourself beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. I call this principle, Challenge.

Learning = Feedback + Reflection

Learning is a cyclical process. You do something, filter the useful feedback from the useless, the signal from the noise, reflect on it, and repeat. I call this principle, Learning Cycles, or Iterative Learning.

Learning = Understanding
Learning = Questioning
Learning = Teaching

Knowledge is only built upon a foundation of understanding.
The best way to gain understanding and engage with what you’re learning is by asking questions.
The best way to gain feedback on the quality of your understanding is by teaching it to someone who knows nothing about it.

Learning = Humility

To learn is to practice Humility. You don’t know what you don’t know. And the more you learn, the more you discover how little you know. Humility puts you in a state of receptivity.

All learning is state dependent. I call this the principle of Optimal State. I consider Humility an important element of the optimal state for learning.”

The Better Share

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“You’re familiar with the idea of the ‘lion’s share’.” 

“The one who shares takes the largest piece. It’s the name of one of Aesop’s fables, isn’t it?”


I find it a good reference… to do the exact opposite of.

During our meals together, my parents have always given me and my brother the better share. Most of my life I was unable to appreciate it. As with so many other things, I took it for granted. 

Now, that I’ve gotten a little wiser, as a means of honoring it, I turned it into a life principle, which I expanded beyond the scope of my small family, to my big family that is mankind:

Always give the other the better share.

On Learning 3

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“On my Quest to master Learning, I set to reading every book about it. Well, not quite every book. I’m focusing on identifying the 20%.

As I’m reading about learning, I’m also practicing Meta-Learning (learning how to learn).”

“Can you give an example?”

“I’m currently reading Jim Kwik’s beautiful book Limitless. In the book, Jim outlines his learning framework, which has the acronym FASTER.


Forget refers to eliminating distractions, upgrading your learning mindset by forgetting about your perceived limitations, and suspending what you think you know about the topic, approaching it with a beginner’s mind.

Act refers to approaching learning actively, as opposed to passively.

A really big idea in the book is that,

All learning is state dependent.

State refers to getting yourself in an optimal state for learning, an energized state of curiosity and excitement.

Teach refers to learning with the intention of teaching it to someone else.

Enter refers to making time for learning by scheduling it in your calendar.

Review refers to learning by testing yourself on your acquired knowledge (active recall) over multiple spread-out sessions (spaced repetition). 

The framework itself is not important. Any framework is just one perspective. What’s important are the principles. By extracting the principles, you can integrate them into your own framework.

For instance, scheduling and eliminating distractions, while important life skills, are not learning-specific.”

“What are the principles here?”

Learning Mindset [Related: Learning as Primary Value, Belief System, Belief Optimization, Limiting Beliefs, Empowering Beliefs]

Optimal State [Playfulness, Curiosity, Fun, Excitement, Joy, Pleasure, Priming Ritual]

Beginner’s Mind [Emptying the Cup, Humility, ‘I don’t know‘]

Active Learning [Deep Engagement, Creative Learning]

Learning by Teaching [Feynman Technique, Brevity, Simple Language, Images, Analogies, Diagrams]

Active Recall / Spaced Repetition [Testing, Forgetting Curve]

Learning Mindset refers to learning as a value, and to your beliefs around learning. The practice here is turning learning into a primary value, identifying your limiting beliefs around learning and replacing them with empowering beliefs.

Optimal State is the practice of consistently activating the state. For instance by creating a pre-learning priming ritual which energizes you and activates the Learning Mindset. As someone put it,

You must be in a state of questing for knowledge.

Activating the Beginner’s Mind could also be part of the ritual, putting yourself in a state of openness and receptivity.

Active Learning refers to your level of engagement in the learning. Engaging in it as a creative act, rather than as an observer sport.

Learning by Teaching refers to explaining it in simple terms, as if to someone who knew nothing about the subject, by employing analogies, images, or diagrams.

Active Recall / Spaced Repetition refer to setting up a system for reviewing what you learned to maximize retention.

I like to think of learning as a system. These are some of the components of it. As I see it, learning is not just about acquiring knowledge, but also about constantly optimizing the learning system itself.”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What is the Win-Win principle?

It has a double meaning.

On one hand, it means ‘I win only if you win too’. 

You can metaphorically think of it as (another facet of) Balance. 

If both of us win, we’re in Balance.
If I win and you lose or have no gain, or the other way around, we’re out of Balance. 

It means striving to make every single interaction mutually beneficial.

On the other hand, it means you win regardless of the outcome.

You win if you succeed.
You win if you fail. Even more so in this case – that’s where the gems are found [<link, medium read].

Creative Limitations

Restrictions breed creativity. (Mark Rosewater)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you think about the practice of expressing Gratitude for three things?”

“Our brain is not good at open-ended choices. Whenever it’s faced with such a choice, it retreats to known pathways.

If you set as the goal to think of three things you’re grateful for, it’s likely that you’ll always think of the same handful of things.

By adding constraints, you force your brain to explore new pathways. This is a fundamental principle of creativity. I call it the creative limitations principle.

In practical terms, that means making each of the three things you want to express Gratitude for thematic. Something like:
– ‘people who care about me’
– ‘resources’
– ‘experiences’

The theme can vary from more general to more specific. I like to think of it as the specificity spectrum. The more general the theme, so the lower the specificity, the wider the possibility-space.

If you do your Gratitude practice in writing, you can play with exploring different themes every session.”

Life Principles: Quality

The small things are the big things.

How you do anything is how you do everything. (Josh Waitzkin)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What’s the Quality principle about?”

“The basic idea is that how you do anything matters.

Expressed as a principle:

Always do your best, regardless of what it is.

With a different emphasis, how you do anything matters.

In practical terms, Quality has three benchmarks: Presence, Effectiveness and Efficiency.”

“What’s the difference between Effectiveness and Efficiency?”

“To use a metaphor:

Efficiency is about how well you climb a wall.
Effectiveness is about climbing the right wall.

Expressed as principles:

Be present in everything you do.

Seek effectiveness and efficiency in everything you do.

For me Quality also means looking at everything through two value-lenses [<link; medium read]: Beauty and Loving Play [<link; short read].

Expressed as a principle:

Do everything beautifully, lovingly and playfully.

On Wisdom 3

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is your Central Value?”


I’ve been reflecting on it lately, to gain clarity on it. And, as it usually happens, I ended up refining the model.”

“What does the latest iteration look like?”

“Like this:

My model of Wisdom

As I see it, Wisdom has two components: Values and Principles.

It’s a matter of having Values, gaining Clarity on what they are – we might think of this as the blueprint.

It’s a matter of living in Integrity with those Values.”

“What’s the use of Principles? Can’t you just think of them as Values?”

Wisdom is a practice.

Principles isolate specific aspects of the practice.”

Three Movement Principles

Move in all ways and always move.

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Brian Johnson expresses the three most important areas of one’s life as a triad:

The Big Three


If you were to create a triad of guiding-principles for movement, what would they be?”

“My triad would be:


Quality expresses how well you move. This is a very deep principle, transferable to any other area of your life.

Two aspects of this principle are:
– Presence (awareness of your own body and the environment; called Touch in Parkour).
– Efficiency.

As a side note, a good way to assess Efficiency is by paying attention to how much sound you are making. The aim is to move (and land) silently, like a cat (called Stealth in Parkour).

Quantity expresses how often you move. The goal is to maximize movement throughout the day, to creatively

weave movement into the fabric of your daily life

, in the words of Frank Forenchich. This has no upper limit. The metaphor I like to use is that of ‘perpetual motion machine‘. 

Two aspects of this principle are:
– Discovering movement opportunities.
– Creating movement opportunities (‘creating space’ for movement throughout the day).

Variety expresses how varied you move. The goal is to move your whole body, not just parts of it. To move in as many planes of motion as possible. To move all joints through their full range of motion (especially your spine).

Two aspects of this principle are:
– Exploring movement possibilities (climbing, balancing, swinging, jumping, swimming, dancing, etc.).
– Improvising.

You don’t need to know any fancy movements. Simple is beautiful. Make stuff up. Have fun with it.”

The greatest purpose of movement practice is to unlock profoundly meaningful experiences. (Rafe Kelley)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the difference between Tranquility, Serenity, Stillness and Inner Peace?”

“They all mean the exact same thing. A state of deep calm and relaxation. 

They are different in that they express it using different metaphoric models.

Think of the opposite of that state. (Inversion) We can metaphorically express it in many ways:

– Imbalance
– Storm
– Tension
– Turmoil
– Turbulence
– War

What’s important is the essence.”

“In my readings about achieving that state, I keep encountering three concepts: Acceptance, Letting Go, and Surrender. What is the difference between them? Do they also mean the same thing?”

“Again, let’s focus on the opposite.

Things are in a certain way.
You desire or expect things to be other than they are.
This creates tension. Or, using a different model, we might think of it as resistance.

It is this resistance that brings about imbalance. 
It is desire or expectation that brings about resistance.”

“What is the difference between desire and expectation?”

“When there’s a chain of occurrences, this forms a certain pattern. Through an inductive process, we tend to project such patterns into the future. 

This has occurred repeatedly, therefore it will continue to occur indefinitely.

Expectation is a predictive model – often misguided.

Back to Acceptance, Letting go and Surrender.

Regaining balance is a matter of
accepting what is,
accepting things as they are, without wishing they were different.

Expressed differently, it is a matter of
letting go of the desire / expectation for things to be other than they are.

The third uses the ‘war’ metaphoric system to express the state of imbalance. It is ‘Surrender’ that brings about ‘Peace’. This is the most ambiguous, the least clear in what the practice entails.

There’s a fundamental principle behind all these. I call it the principle of Non-Resistance.”