Why Read ANYTHING Without Learning How to Learn FIRST
From How Every Expert Observes and Responds to Information
The Same Way in Everything They Write and Say?
10,000 sales meeting every day, someone mentions that Stories Sell. Even more times, therapists tell patients to describe their situation as one. That's like telling people who worry too much, not to worry about it. The more pieces of a puzzle are missing, the harder it Is for anyone to get the picture. The more obvious things are, like settings or time frames, the more easily they're overlooked.
Anyone can cook, garden, even act and play an instrument; doing them a certain way makes all the difference. Using the right anecdotes and analogies at the right time in the right amounts, focusing on the right components, with the right tone of voice, tempo, and pitch takes as much skill as being a chef, horticulturalist, musician, or actor. You may not get applauds, BUT you WILL get a LOT better, and KEEP getting better, the more you read this book and use what you learn from it. You are used to incremental learning, one piece at a time. This book provides accelerated learning because... Everything Is Connected IN it, the way everything is in REALITY, and shows you how to do that, yourself!
How can someone build relationships, who can't relate the subject at hand to what the listener relates to? Communicating and Learning work hand in hand like breathing in and out. Once you start showing people what they don't understand in terms of what they already know, you also recognize in a heartbeat how what you don't understand is similar to what you already know. That is REALLY knowing how to learn, not any of the mnemonics gimmicks.
1/3 of students don't even graduate high school; 50% in most cities like New York; 70% in some like Houston. Billions are spent on tutoring that just gets past the next lesson. No one gets a single lesson in how to learn their whole lives.
I asked a second grade class having difficulty with sentence fill-ins, what it looked like, which they'd done at home 100 times for fun. Words at the top of a page and blank spaces in sentences is a puzzle with words. Who hasn't thought a puzzle piece fit, only to find that the colors in the empty space didn't match? Words likewise have two features: literal and figurative meanings. They not only learned how to do sentence fill-ins, but LEARN EVERYTHING ELSE THAT WAY for the rest of their lives.
More of our well-being in every facet of life depends on learning, comment by comment in conversation, and communicating than anything else, yet people spend countless hours learning golf, tennis, dance, and working out in gyms, but not 10 minutes a day on this. Open up some sample pages. See if you don't learn something right away that will make all the difference in how you live and work
Do You Warm Up Your MIND before work or school, the way you do your body before working out or competing in athletics: stretching Characters, Actions, Settings, and Time frames scope, depth, intensity, and clarity, that are on your mind?
Barring incapacitating physical debilities, you work out, or you should; probably several ways, if only doing breathing exercises, raising your shoulders up and down, and other simple exercises. Thats part of the beauty of it: changing the routine. But have you ever given two minutes thought, in all the time you spend doing routines, to whether you can actually work out your MIND the same way, which affects EVERYTHING you do: how well you communicate, relate to people, relate to yourself, manage your life, your business, your job, your family, and how well you actually LEARN in the first place, even how well you innovate your work out, and how well you live when you aren't working out. You spend all this time exercising your body to improve how you look and feel, BUT again, how you feel and see is still filtered through your mind, just as sensory perception is, so working your Body without working your Mind is like only working your arms but not your legs, or your front but not your back.
You break down your workout into various specific components, and exercise increasingly specific muscles with a method based on common characteristics, anticipating for instance that more sets with less weight or resistance will achieve certain results, and fewer sets with more weight or resistance will achieve other results. The business you work in does the same thing with different jobs, each of which has various tasks with a multitude of additional details.
Every one of these situations or events likewise has common characteristics. Every book or article about getting your head or act together, like every speaker at every conference for every industry as different as their advice may be is explained the same way! One more time: information has a uniform structure, just as our bodies do and the very atoms of which we are composed different as they may be in distinct ways. One of the biggest misconceptions fostered by the compartmentalization of knowledge in our educations, is that some information is expository or didactic, some anecdotal or dramatic, some lyrical or poetic. All the speakers at conferences, all the winners of incentive trips, and all the trade magazine articles constantly use a combination of all three, which those people learn to vary the way a chef changes the ingredients of a recipe to suit each customer's tastes. I've said it before, and Ill say it again: anyone can learn how to communicate that way all day long.
Merely telling people to use anecdotes and analogies while making a point is like telling people where the barbells are and expecting them to figure out how to use them, where the menu matrix with several deals is above the Subway restaurant counter and expecting customers to choose what suits them. Our thoughts and feelings are vastly harder to grasp than a barbell or sandwich. Learning how to learn is a whole other discipline than learning math, science, accounting, software, or fitness. Get your head and act together first. The rest falls into place much more readily.
Just as physical fitness improves someones resistance to injuries and illness, as well as their resilience from those that occur, mental fitness improves someones resistance to and resilience from stress of all kinds, which only seems to increase as computers increase the speed with which they function and more demands are placed on people in the workplace, and more people have two-family households, on top of which more people are taking care of parents now than children. Nothing enables you to avoid life's mishaps; you can however, handle and bounce back from them more capably, with less grief, BUT you need to work at it!
Do You Warm Up Your MIND before work or school, the way you do your body before working out or competing in athletics: stretching Characters, Actions, Settings, and Time frames scope, depth, intensity, and clarity, that are on your mind?
Barring incapacitating physical debilities, you work out, or you should; probably several ways, if only doing breathing exercises, raising your shoulders up and down, and other simple exercises. Thats part of the beauty of it: changing the routine. But have you ever given two minutes thought, in all the time you spend doing routines, to whether you can actually work out your MIND the same way, which affects EVERYTHING you do: how well you communicate, relate to people, relate to yourself, manage your life, your business, your job, your family, and how well you actually LEARN in the first place, even how well you innovate your work out, and how well you live when you aren't working out. You spend all this time exercising your body to improve how you look and feel, BUT again, how you feel and see is still filtered through your mind, just as sensory perception is, so working your Body without working your Mind is like only working your arms but not your legs, or your front but not your back. You break down your workout into various specific components, and exercise increasingly specific muscles with a method based on common characteristics, anticipating for instance that more sets with less weight or resistance will achieve certain results, and fewer sets with more weight or resistance will achieve other results. The business you work in does the same thing with different jobs, each of which has various tasks with a multitude of additional details. Every one of these situations or events likewise has common characteristics. Every book or article about getting your head or act together, like every speaker at every conference for every industry as different as their advice may be is explained the same way! One more time: information has a uniform structure, just as our bodies do and the very atoms of which we are composed different as they may be in distinct ways. One of the biggest misconceptions fostered by the compartmentalization of knowledge in our educations, is that some information is expository or didactic, some anecdotal or dramatic, some lyrical or poetic. All the speakers at conferences, all the winners of incentive trips, and all the trade magazine articles constantly use a combination of all three, which those people learn to vary the way a chef changes the ingredients of a recipe to suit each customer's tastes. Ive said it before, and Ill say it again: anyone can learn how to communicate that way all day long. Merely telling people to use anecdotes and analogies while making a point is like telling people where the barbells are and expecting them to figure out how to use them, where the menu matrix with several deals is above the Subway restaurant counter and expecting customers to choose what suits them. Our thoughts and feelings are vastly harder to grasp than a barbell or sandwich. Learning how to learn is a whole other discipline than learning math, science, accounting, software, or fitness. Get your head and act together first. The rest falls into place much more readily. Just as physical fitness improves someones resistance to injuries and illness, as well as their resilience from those that occur, mental fitness improves someones resistance to and resilience from stress of all kinds, which only seems to increase as computers increase the speed with which they function and more demands are placed on people in the workplace, and more people have two-family households, on top of which more people are taking care of parents now than children. Nothing enables you to avoid lifes mishaps; you can however, handle and bounce back from them more capably, with less grief, BUT you need to work at it!
Training is the #2 industry in the country, according to Manny London, the Dean of the Business College at Stony Brook University when this was written, but ALL of it is either about what to do—just do it—without a clue about the underlying skills involved, or yet another motivation and attitude spin. Making the most of ourselves each and every day is built into the DNA of every critter on earth. The irony is, it takes far more time and effort circumventing learning the necessary skills to make the most of ourselves, than learning them takes.
For every inaction, there is also an equal but opposite reaction. Like playing a sport or instrument, you get better at it sooner and faster, the more systematically you practice, and it is also self-perpetuating and reinforcing the process continually improves how well you learn, practice, and use it, along with how well you learn, practice, and do everything else so you attain accelerated, not mere incremental learning, one separate tidbit at a time, as school and business learning by and large occur, which becomes increasingly prohibitive, the more complex things there are to learn and do diminishing your opportunities where they are if you don't learn how to learn systematically. Even when Roman civilization is compared to Greeces or Persias, or one system or client to another, for example, you aren't smoothly changing focus on many ways to learn about them, just different things about them in a hodge-podge, unless you have a command of the Uniform Structure of Information to guide you. Almost good enough is increasingly not good enough, the more precarious and fast-paced the economy is. You don't need to know if anyone has done a study of whether people actually spend more time, from avoiding improving their learning and communication skills, and concocting ways to compensate for their absence, than learning them properly would take, if you take into account the time lost doing everything without them, not to mention doing things more than once and those that don't come to fruition because they weren't done as well as they would have been. Who knows how many marriages might have been saved, as but one for instance, if they had gotten out of therapy and were Getting in Touch with Reality, instead, not to mention the financial debacle that divorce causes and time wasted supporting two households. Whole careers might well have gone a whole other way if only someone knew how to know what to say that would have won the day, time and time again.
Relating what you don't understand to what you already know is as much a function of language skill as solving mathematical problems requires understanding the appropriate formulations for any given situation. An inert mind tends to stay inert; a mind in motion tends to stay in motion. Guess what happens once you get into the swing of it: work, both professional and personal, becomes a game of golf, or whatever it is that your minds if not your cars bumper sticker says you'd rather be doing.
The great Russian short story writer, Isaac Babel wrote in My First Fee, A well-thought-out story doesn't need to resemble real life. Life itself tries with all its might to resemble a well-crafted story. The more aware you are of The Whole Story around and inside you, from learning, practicing, and using the Coloring Book, the better you become at communicating them, so the people around and inside you can share them more fully, deeply, vividly, and clearly, and do likewise with you from the stories around and inside them. The purpose of listening to and examining music, reading literature, or viewing art, dance, and architecture, is not, as all too many like to say, to bring something of beauty into your life, but to provide a process that you can emulate in every moment of your life to make it beautiful, so it is a well-crafted movie with music as stirring as Dr. Zhivagos or Lawrence of Arabias.
Much the way every process in nature is interrelated with every other process in nature, the laws of composition are as omnipresent and inviolable as those of science and as invisible, until we become aware of them. Again, like those of science, the more someone delves into the intricacies of music or its sister arts, and learns about them, the more our every moment can emulate the processes occurring in the stories, paintings, music, and nature we love.
What is rarely noted by sports or artistic commentators, or observed by the less well-tutored audience participants, is the ever-present challenge, which both groups constantly train to attain, to remain relaxed while exerting themselves, so as to prevent tenseness from impeding their progress. Former Indiana University coach, Bobby Knight, suggested as much when commenting about an incident during a televised basketball game, that one of the hardest things for athletes to learn is not doing what they cant; in other words, exerting themselves where they are no longer relaxed. The greater proficiency they acquire in their endeavor, the more they can exert themselves and still maintain that balance at moments of peak effort. Likewise, in communicating or learning about any activity, in any venue.
Too few people ever even aspire to a level of performance at anything where that groove is enough of a factor to be noticeable, so they are unaware of its significance in every activity and venue, from being in a Kindergarten classroom to a corporate board room, or at times their very own kitchen, and wind up uncomfortable in situations throughout their lives, often reacting counter-productively to compensate for being at a loss. The few exceptions where being relaxed is noted in athletics, the performing arts, business, and test taking, for example, I've never heard that dichotomy being discussed in any detail, much less stressed; just the same old advice, Try to Relax. Countless people fail to achieve their potential in any of several endeavors that might have led them to others, or spoil personal relationships, merely for want of understanding the necessity of focusing on both exerting and relaxing themselves, and increasing their ability to do each simultaneously. As I will show again and again, you acquire that skill the same way you learned everything else and millions of people work out in gyms every day: breaking it down into its components, focusing on them separately, and putting them back together, over and over.
Formulating information comprehensibly is reassuring, relaxing. Merely knowing you know how to is, as well. Being unable to is stressful and hindering. I often challenged misbehaving students to sit still for a single minute, who scoffed at the idea, then couldn't. The one time I knew immediately that one of them would pull the trick off, he relaxed instead of clenching still. One in a thousand may sense the concept intuitively; the other 999 can learn it here, among many, many other simple but powerful concepts and techniques, all of which spring from formulating information the way everything you read does, with illustrative anecdotes and analogies putting what you don't understand in perspective with what you already know. Like most tasks, doing that a certain way makes all the difference, as Hamlet instructs the actors performing the mousetrap scene to catch the King. You can learn to do that better and better, just as you are able to continually learn how to do many, many other things better, if not quite as well as Shakespeare did. No one else has, for all the glorious, fantastic tales told since his. Every magazine is full of articles, in which anecdotes and analogies are used skillfully. Ill also show you how to make the most of reading each
Not only does the anecdotal process naturally distance someone from events, making them a third party narrator of them; analogies objectify our subjective experience of those events, transforming them into something other than themselves, with which we can more readily grapple, just as scientists can more readily examine something's properties by creating an apparatus for doing so, and the analogies furthermore enable someone to examine the matter at hand in terms of something else, with which they are more familiar, deflecting from the stressfulness of the situation.
Language is the ultimate tool that people have created for coping with lifes many challenges, overcoming its many obstacles, and avoiding its many pitfalls. The following segments address several aspects of life, but the processes and outcomes described in each of them are also applicable to the others, if only because of the cross-referential nature of language, itself, just as the skills required in painting watercolor landscapes and oil paint or pastel chalk portraits are also applicable to pen and ink drawings and print making, which again mirrors the cross-referential nature of roles we play in life. The knowledge necessary to study one animal is applicable to other animals and other subjects, although one uses those skills and knowledge differently in different media or disciplines. The same blind that works for studying birds might be a leetle precarious for studying tigers. Likewise, for studying a prospective client or partner.
It is worth mentioning again that because of the cross-referential nature of my subject, much the way delving into a specimen biologically invariably leads to its physics and chemistry, elucidating how The Coloring Book can benefit companionship, teaching or business inevitably leads to the most fundamental aspects of relationships, so you will find yourself reading similar comments about facets of love, teaching, parenting, and business endeavors, which made more sense to reproduce than overlook, without discouraging everyone from reading the rest of the book, rather than only those parts that are directly relevant to their immediate concerns, and also to illustrate how intimately every aspect of the problems people face in this regard are interrelated.
That isn't to say that good executives or detectives make good parents or companions. Opinions differ about what is good and works well in executives or detectives and companions. The characteristics that build a business or solve crimes often destroy a family. Just because toughness or worse may be rewarded in the workaday world, doesn't mean it can be condoned or excused elsewhere. However, it cannot be overemphasized that everything in each section, both about positive and negative attributes, is applicable to the rest. Business management, parenting, and education books are as much about How To Live as psychology ones.
Loving is teaching. Everyone has to learn how to love. Strange, eh? Two people have to teach each other how to love. Teaching is loving. Anyone who isn't in love with their subject and teaching, itself, shouldn't be in a classroom. All work becomes someones companion. Too much of what people do for their livelihood in todays mechanized, automated economy is too hideous to acquire an affection for, BUT opportunities abound for people to escape drudgery and learn to do something they can be fond of, which aside from sleeping, they spend more time with than their lifes companion. Integrating the Individual and the Organization, again by Chris Argyris describes how people personalize impersonal work stations and jobs, often despite an organizations efforts to inhibit their efforts and dehumanize them.
If you don't know how to learn, you don't enjoy learning, so how on earth are you ever going to learn how to love anyone or anything? Everyone wants the joys of meaningful relationships, but few know how to create them, so they keep missing out on it and mistakenly attribute their loss to lacking those joys, as if they were the means to that relationship, not the result of it, or think something is wrong personally with themselves or the other person, when they simply don't know how to relate to things at all. They've been detached from reality for so long, they don't even notice it.
It also cannot be overstated that perhaps the hardest thing in life, which in large part also determines how well we fare in every aspect of it, is seeing ourselves, others, and events as they are; not letting how others see us and events cloud our vision, who are as apt to overlook our faults as magnify them. ALL the masters focus on this incessantly in one way or another, describing its myriad modalities and nuances.
Here is one, again from Balzacs Lost Illusions, page 242:
Had he had more experience of literary life, he would have known that, with writers, silence and curtness in such circumstances betoken the jealousy aroused by a fine work, just as their admiration denotes the pleasure they feel on listening to a mediocre work which confirms them in their self-esteem.
One more is in order, also as an example of how the profundity of a character, action, setting, or time frame stems from that of the analogies drawn to them. On page 637, a priest tells the young poet, on his way to committing suicide,
A diamond has no idea of its value.
I don't know whether any psychologist has ever done a study of it, but I would guess that 90+% of the time that people complain about someone doing something, they do the same thing within five minutes, themselves. Of course, it is never exactly the same. Thats the whole trick. Its as if deception is so ingrained in us for survival that even a million years and worlds apart from needing it, we still cant resist disguising our actions and appearance in order to avoid capture, even at the cost of deluding ourselves in the process. So naturally we wind up caught in our own trap, unable to notice the trap anymore, much less that we are caught in it.
When you point out to someone a wrinkle in a situation with them, to iron it out, and they respond by reverting to a generality like the many other ways they help you, which you already thoughtfully prefaced your comment about the matter at hand by acknowledging, you need to be able to recognize that the discussion is being derailed by going off on another track, and that the problem is being compounded by your listeners resistance to BOTH solving that particular matter and engaging in the problem-solving process, to begin with.
As I begin with students, but referring to their ears since they're listening, not reading: with one eye follow what I am saying, as you do with everything else; with the other follow how I am saying it. You'll get better and better at it, just as people of all ages do, coordinating their right and left hands in all kinds of athletics and music tasks, and as with music and athletics, the better you get at that, the better all the information here falls into place.
Every good teacher teaches math, science, history, accounting, engineering, medicine, or law, and the rest the same way, with brief anecdotes and analogies illustrating each point, somewhat differently. Come to think of it, so does every musician and athlete do things much the same way, somewhat differently. While teaching a lesson, I'm demonstrating and explaining that process of using illustrative anecdotes and analogies at the same time, breaking it down into its components and putting them back together, the way athletics and music teachers do, and pretty much every other subject is taught.
That process is also evident in everything else you read, perhaps without your having noticed it before because you were unaware of its significance. Writers and conference speakers are utilizing similar components in different ways all the time, just as athletes and artists of all kinds in every medium are. Even when the words or notes are per-ordained, everyone performs Shakespeare and Beethoven differently. Since that skill is the one Common Bond between every expert in every subject, that is obviously the The Key Skill of All Skills to learn. You will soon see why else that key skill is of monumental importance to every aspect of your life, that there is far more to it than meets the eye, and a-n-y-o-n-e can learn it if they try, just as anyone can learn to play music, sports, dance, cook, and most anything else, and will get better at it faster and more easily, the more systematically they try, which you will also soon see how to do.
Here is the essence of what this most unique of all self-improvement books teaches in intricate detail: people can only transform themselves, as all the other books on the subject tell them to do one way or another, to the degree that they are able to transform what is going on around and inside them, by analogy, into other things like it in the world at large, as all those other books and articles do on every page, often in their very titles like Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, Re-Engineering the Corporation, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and all The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in Stephen Coveys Table of Contents, without showing readers the one skill on which all the rest of their advice hinges: how that is done. Such people seem to write and speak brilliantly because they have brilliant ideas, when in reality its the opposite: brilliant ideas come to them because the narrative structure, with which they observe, reflect upon, and respond to events is so sound, just as you have to put up a Christmas tree, Menorah, or what have you before you can hang the ornaments or light the candles that make it beautiful and meaningful.
Peoples ornaments their brilliant ideas likewise remain stuck in their closet, so to speak, because they never properly learned how to use in their daily lives the narrative structure in the books and magazines they studied in school or continue to read only for the content on its surface, so they could get past the next test or meeting, date, or athletic competition. Like playing a sport or musical instrument, what Blanchard, Robbins, Covey, Dyer, and the rest do is to some degree a talent, but largely a skill that anyone, who can read, can learn and master, to accomplish which the book includes exercises and drills like those that athletes and musicians do to improve their strength, speed, stamina, flexibility, timing, and touch putting thoughts and feelings into words. Furthermore, just as athletes and musicians or ordinary school students in classes of all kinds continually apply things they already learned to acquire new skills, even without ever being taught how to do that, themselves, The Key Skill of All Skills shows people how to acquire the most basic life comprehension and transformation skills putting one thing and another together then putting more and more pieces of the puzzle in their mind together, and using them in ever new ways, the more they know about the process. Old saying: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. None is even more dangerous. That isn't just an example of what I'm talking about; it happens to be true.
Even First Graders are amazed and delighted by how much they already know, when given a chance to use it, to understand what they don't. Such examples occur throughout the book. It is AMAZING to think of, but very, very few people are ever shown how to LEARN in that sense at all recognizing in a heartbeat how what they don't understand is similar to what they already know, and Ill say at the outset that I'm dubious of any other approach, as I will also show throughout the book, and leave it for you to decide. In fact, I'm so confident that there isn't one other than committing information to memory and clustering it together as much as possible, which becomes increasingly problematic, the more there is to know I'm challenging all ye readers to find one. See whether they don't describe their approach My Way, without explaining how they do it, which is like Paul Anka, who wrote the song, My Way for Frank Sinatra, knowing that every word of it would ring true to everyone who knew anything about him, neglecting to include the many key ways he did things his way throughout his life. Better yet, the way Sinatra sings the song in an almost ordinary speaking voice, as one can easily imagine he actually does talk, is what makes it sound all the more true. That, too, you will learn how to do here, and more, much more than this, to do it your waaaaay.
With that said, make no mistake about it: for all that even true geniuses in their own right and countless scholars have pored over Shakespeare and Dante their whole lives, no one or very few, if you want to include Joyce and Proust, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and a hand full of others in that realm, who will be noted by and by has managed to come up with their like in all the centuries since they pulled off their stunts. The idea here isn't to equal anyone else, except the best you can become. The real difference between the Sinatra impoisonators and the many, many other originals in their own right, is as much a matter of doing it their way, rather than attempting to do it Sinatras, as sheer talent, BUT doing that required learning a whole lotta skills, which we will cover in detail.