You have just unlocked the gate to superlearning.
Duplicate this Notion template to your own Notion account so you can use the Habit Builder, and always have access to these superlearning resources.
At the end of the document, there are links to a habit tracker and a micro-course you can take on our superlearning app Traverse.link.
Becoming a superlearner is as much about mindset as it is about technique and habit.
We all have self defeating beliefs. ‘I am not good at math.' Or, ‘I can’t paint.’
Changing a belief is a lot harder than just repeating positive affirmations to yourself. Developing the right mindset to become a lifelong learner takes a lot of thinking, but also doing.
Thinking about thinking is called meta-cognition. Becoming aware of how you approach learning is key to planting seeds of change. Only when you become aware of what you think, and why you think like that, can you begin to change how you think.
What is accepted without any doubt is that we are all born with the tools and patterns required to become efficient learners. The brain is possibly the most effective learning machine on the planet. Experiments show that even babies are constantly learning through experimentation. And through estimation. Babies are little scientists and little statisticians, and employ the same methods that scientists and statisticians employ, without being explicitly taught.
As babies grow into children, then teens and finally adults, the learning apparatus inside our heads learns a hell of a lot. But it also learns beliefs that make us less efficient than we could be.
However, the truth is that learning can happen at any age. You just have to believe that the brain is wired to work in a certain way, and that if you put in the effort consistently, and feed the brain in a way that optimises learning, you too can become a superlearner.
As you begin to make the learning habit automatic, you start to change your identity. Identity change takes place when habits are formed. You don’t start thinking of yourself as an athlete only after winning an Olympic medal. Every time you hit the gym, you are doing what athletes do. It is the doing that makes you an athlete, not the accomplishment of a goal.
You don’t become an entrepreneur only after selling a successful business. Every time you take an action, however small, towards selling a product or service, you are doing what entrepreneurs do.
Whether it is business, sport or learning, it is in the doing that we achieve results that compound to create massive success.
Part of learning mindset is knowing what to learn. If you pick something that is too easy, you will get bored very quickly. If you pick something is too hard, you will get frustrated and give up. There exists an ideal level of difficulty which keeps learners interested and curious — knowing how to do this for yourself will greatly aid your learning.
Being emotionally invested in your learning also will greatly increase your motivation to learn. Many people find school a chore because what we learn in school doesn’t appeal to us — we are not emotionally invested in it. Which is why we don’t develop an emotional connect with it.
In his hugely successful book Atomic Habits, James Clear defines a habit as a behaviour that has been repeated enough times to make it automatic.
When your phone buzzes, picking up the phone to check the notification is a habitual response. We have done it so many times that we do it without thinking.
With most habits, the time between performing the habit and experiencing the reward is relatively short. For example, when we brush our teeth after waking up, we only have to wait 2 minutes before we experience the pleasant feeling of a clean mouth.
With something like learning, the time between performing the habit (sitting down to study / practice) and the reward (passing a test, starting a business with the new skill etc) can be much longer. In fact, in many instances, it isn’t clear when the reward will materialise.
Yet, most of us intuitively understand the value in lifelong learning. Have you ever met a person who says ‘learning is pointless’? No! We all know that learning can open up immense new experiences and opportunities. Pursued for its own sake as well, there are innumerable benefits to learning. The rewards from a learning habit grow exponentially the longer the habit is practised.
Learning is hard. But as the saying goes, ‘If you do things that are easy, your life will be hard. If you do things that are hard, your life will be easy.’
Building habits is also hard. How many times have you vowed to do this and that, only to see the motivation fall by the wayside, eventually resulting in the behaviour disappearing over time?
What we’re trying to do with Superlearning for High Achievers is to make learning a habit.
‘But isn’t that doubly hard?!’, you might ask.
The key to making learning a habit is to set yourself up on a system that does 2 things:
- Motivates you to show up regularly, consistently and effortlessly, so that your learning compounds to give you greater rewards over time
- Ensures you utilise techniques which lead to faster, more efficient and longer lasting learning
Though that is the cornerstone of what the course will do, there are other key cornerstone habits that will greatly aid your lifelong learning habit.
Meditation, even if for just two minutes a day will help you become more self-aware and conscious of your own learning biases.
Eating right and light ensures that your brain and body are in a receptive state for learning.
The brain consolidates learning while we sleep. The best way to ensure that you retain what you are learning is to ensure that you rest well.
Your habits + Your techniques = Superlearner You!
The steps to becoming a superlearner in any topic are:
We'll show some techniques to make each of these steps more effective.
Understanding is the process of turning data and information into knowledge, insights and wisdom. The following techniques will help you understand faster and deeper.
Tree of knowledge
What is Elon Musk's secret to deeply understand (and disrupt) 8 different industries?
It is the way he views knowledge. For Elon, knowledge is like a semantic tree.
Build your tree of knowledge of any new topic by
- identifying the trunk, the basic building blocks of knowledge
- master the basic blocks of knowledge
- follow your curiosity to explore the branches that seem most interesting to you
- everything you learn builds on top of what you learnt before
Building the tree of knowledge divides a massive amount of information up into digestible blocks. We can understand these blocks one at a time. Over time, our brain will be able to "chunk" several blocks together and build a system level understanding.
Learn by teaching
Developed by Nobel prize winning physicist Richard Feynman, the Feynman technique helps us build understanding of any subject.
The Feynman technique is learning by teaching: imagine a 12-year old, who knows nothing about the subject. Now, start asking questions to discover the fundamental ideas one by one. Answer the questions in a way that a 12-year old could understand.
Deliberately asking ourselves basic questions about the topic we're learning can increase understanding by up to 94%.
Once we’ve built a basic understanding, we need to be able to memorize what we’ve learnt, whether that is to apply it in real life or to pass an exam.
Depending on the structure and complexity of the topic or skill we want to learn, there are several techniques to memorize better (up to 290% better!).
Spaced repetition and active recall
We asked ourselves questions to gain understanding, now we can review those questions to strengthen our memory - effectively turning them into flashcards.
The optimal time to review a question is just when you’re about to forget. This method is called spaced repetition, and there are algorithms and apps which help you review at the the optimal time - like our app Traverse.link.
The science behind spaced repetition goes back over a hundred years ago, when Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered that our recall declines exponentially over time, but we can bump it back up with a reminder.
Even better when the reminder is a question which forces your brain to think - active recall instead of passive re-reading.
Combining spaced repetition and active recall can improve your memory by up to 290%.
Remember the tree of knowledge we built? The chunking together of blocks of knowledge that our brain does for understanding, can be used for memorization as well. An easy way of doing that is by coming up with acronyms: rather than remembering the steps Knowledge - Understanding - Memorization - Application, we can just remember the acronym KUMA.
We like to learn by analogy. This is because humans are masters in spotting patterns: we recognize something similar to a previous experience and use it in our current situation.
You can consciously use this by creating a story about the thing you're learning. That way you're brain is more likely to pick it u when you need to apply it.
In fact - telling stories has been the main education tool of humans before the invention of writing. Stories which now seem mythical or religious we're teaching important things about the environment, plants, animals as well as the values required to live in a tribe. The stories were told in an audiovisual way, with song and dance, to make them stick (see below).
Next level: Memory Palace
Do you remember your childhood bedroom? Can you recall the furniture, the colors, books, toys and other stuff?
You probably remembered a lot more than you thought you would. Our visual memory is virtually unlimited.
Most of the information we want to remember is words and concepts, for which our memory is much more limited.
But if we try to visualize this information, suddenly we can hold a lot more information in our brain. To visualize an abstract concept, we need to associate it with something visual - a person, an action, an object.
Let's say we want to learn how to write great copywriting hooks. I made the following visualization:
Captain Hook opens the diary of a 12-year old Ernest Hemingway. His curiosity is triggered by an entry titled "My answer to life, the universe and everything". He continues reading and finds just one sentence: "42". Outrage, disbelief! The end of the story: "Always bring your towel."
Every person, action and object in the story tells me a principle of copywriting:
Captain Hook: start with a great hook
A diary: make the story personal and relatable
Hemingway: write short sentences, remove anything unnecessary.
12-year old: use words a 12-year old can understand.
Curiosity, outrage, disbelief: trigger an emotional response
Answer to life, the universe and everything: write something novel, withhold information
42: be specific, use numbers
Always bring your towel: end your copy with a strong call to action.
Now I just "put" this visualization somewhere in the room where I usually write copy, so that I can "look" at it and check my writing against those points.
It's extra memorable because it's built on top of 3 stories I already know: Captain Hook, Anne Frank and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Why don't I just write a note about copywriting which I refer to? It adds friction. I've written tons of notes and I find myself rarely looking at them. Whereas when it's in my head there is no friction at all, and I've already done the work of visualizing it so I only have to look.
Bear in mind that this is an intermediate stage of learning. Professional copywriters have internalized these principles into their subconscious and apply them automatically. But the quickest way to get there is by building a memory palace first.
The end goal of learning is applying your knowledge in real life.
One way we can do this is by deliberate practice: we set ourselves a real life task to get better at the skill we're learning and then repeat this consistently. An example is the Ship30For30 course, which makes you write 30 essays in 30 days to get better at writing.
You also should try to create feedback loops to find out as quickly as possible how well you master a skill, and whether you're improving. In the case of Ship30For30, you can set up a feedback loop by posting your essays on social media and see how many replies they get.
You can use this habit builder to track your learning habit.
Minicourse on superlearning - this is a course you take on a superlearning app called Traverse.link. Dom built Traverse to help with his own learning journey, and now you can use it too!
Find our blog and all our courses at https://superlearners.traverse.link/
Superlearning app: Traverse.link