Brandon Hakim is on a mission to give you the education you’ll never get in school.
When he was in college, he walks into the dean’s office of his University and says “I feel like we’re getting an outdated education.”
She says…they’re working on it. So he started reading books.
One book turned into two. Then into four. Eventually into over 1,000.
He’s since helped over 360,000 people learn faster, work more efficiently, and download the wisdom from thousands of pages of books into their brains in a fraction of the time it would take to sit down and read a book.
We can’t expect to get most things right the first time. That’s the whole essence of learning. By putting ourselves in situations that make us beginner learners, we get the opportunity to experience all-new types of emotions and feelings that we haven’t felt this exact way before.
That is a form of freedom.
We don’t pressure ourselves by thinking we know it all and therefore have to perform at the highest peak of our talent. Instead, we get the chance to mess up, look silly, and learn from all of our mistakes
Our ego may get tested by having us shed this cloak of confidence but in the end, we’ll be more prepared for the journey ahead because most of the time we don’t know it all and we don’t know what will happen.
Having the freedom to be okay with that is one of the more liberating things we can do for ourselves.
In any planned first encounter, it can be highly important to spend some amount of time preparing. This can be true on a first date, an interview for a job, a podcast interview, etc.
First impressions are everything as they say. In our world, as it exists today, not preparing is lazy.
Years ago it was perfectly acceptable to take this approach because it might have been uber-difficult to search for any information. The people who went above and beyond and did some reconnaissance work prior often had the upper hand.
There is so much information available that starting at “square one” makes the person receiving our message or question feel like we don’t care as much. Like we didn’t put any work into this relationship. Like we are just treating them like another number.
That doesn’t fly anymore. We know less is more. High-quality conversations with high-quality people are what we are striving for.
Next time, remember that the more we are prepared with knowledge on the person, company, or otherwise, we are getting a head start to help build confidence, connection, and respect on a much deeper level with the person on the other side.
And who knows, maybe they prepared for the conversation with you, too.
We all are looking, at times, for a second opinion to confirm the decision we are making is the correct one. It’s hard to go with intuition exclusively on every decision and we’ve been told our entire lives to look for mentors and individuals that can help guide us to the next phase of our growth.
Mentors are vital. But there is a problem.
“Advice givers” are everywhere.
You must make sure you are seeking out the right ones.
I have started to think about this more recently because I’ve been getting out to the golf course with my son and having the opportunity to become a coach once again. I was a PGA Teaching Professional for many years and worked with golfers of all ages and skill levels. I had a certain style to me that was unique and I related to my students and was able to help them get better, not just physically but mentally. Although I left the golf industry all together several years ago, the coach in me and my knowledge of the game didn’t.
Maybe that is why it pains me when I overhear someone on the range driving giving advice to another person. I can tell very quickly by watching one swing whether they are a good enough player to even understand proper swing mechanics or sequence one needs in the golf swing. Also, the verbiage and amount of information is another tale altogether. Generally, the player they are “instructing” gets frustrated and is most likely going to have that poor thought in their head for a while leading to more harm than good.
This happens a lot in all areas of life, and we’ve all been there. We all want to seek out advice but figuring out on your own is far better than being led down the wrong path when the path is very unclear. When it comes to more difficult decisions you certainly need to have your intuition be a guide, but it’s also vital to have people that you trust and that have been down that road before share their insights to help you navigate a decision more clearly. And that is why mentorship is so important. Having a couple of mentors or coaches to lean on for critical advice can save a ton of time and money and get you in the right headspace.
That is why it’s important to choose advice wisely. But how do you do that?
I’ll share a couple of questions I like to ask myself prior to getting a mentor or seeking advice from someone I know.
Does the person giving the advice have the domain knowledge to be giving this advice?
In the time I have known them, have they been consistent in their approach and actions?
Are they available to be able to mentor me?
Do I trust them without any doubt?
Will they provide me honest constructive feedback or sugar-coat to avoid hurting feelings (look at #2 to help)
Do I walk away from conversations with them feeling confident and energized or confused and unsure?
These are some of the things I like to consider in the process.
As I said, I believe most of the decisions we make on a daily basis need no advice from anyone. We don’t have to post a question on Facebook or text, 10 friends, because the reality is that we are going to be biased and go with the decision in line with our thinking anyways. We’re human, It’s our nature.
But mentors should be pushing us to think differently and expose our “weak-minded” thoughts that plague us in decision making in order to help us grow stronger.
I believe everyone needs at least one mentor in their life at all times, sometimes more than one. I have a couple of people right now that are mentors to me and they been tremendous in their guidance. I’ve gotten lucky I guess but I’ve also used the questions above to vet them well prior to letting them into that deep relationship with me.
If you need any more guidance on this please reach out, but there are probably a few people you can already see as possible mentors in your life. Make sure they pass your sniff test, and after you’ve done a full vetting, remember to not overthink it and go with your gut if you feel they’d be a great person to lean on.
Over the past several years I’ve immersed myself into a deep state of learning more than I ever had before in my life. I’ve been trying to figure out, how do I get better and better each and every day? And not just “better” because that can be anything, but how do I acquire more knowledge, how do I do research on topics that are important to me, how do I push myself past that comfort zone that I lived a lot of my life in and ultimately improve at a very high rate of return.
Let me take a quick step back and kind of give some context behind it. In my teens and in my 20s there were periods where I had a really good work ethic like having a paper route when I was 11 years old and doing that for six years. I would wake up every single day between 5-6 AM, and I’m from upstate New York, so maybe a foot of snow sometimes. That taught me a lot of work ethic. And I remember even practicing golf, which was very important in my life, for hours on end in high school and college. I actually worked for the Registrar, which is the department in college that handles all classes and records and those types of things. I actually was able to schedule all of my classes when I wanted before anyone else and so I scheduled them literally the first couple classes in the morning every day so I’d be done before lunch. That allowed me to basically hit golf balls for three, four, or five hours and play golf every afternoon. I would just pound golf balls. That taught me work ethic.
The work ethic was there in periods. But I also noticed that sometimes I would have some lapses in that, whether it was in my job, maybe not go full effort, or from a fitness standpoint, I’d have ups and downs. I look back at those moments and I realized I left a lot on the table. There was a lot of stuff that I could have done differently or better or improved upon. Maybe I would be further ahead now than if I didn’t do that but I also am a “glass half full” guy and realize that it happened and I can now learn from it for the future and maybe help other people that haven’t been through that yet and give some guidance and insight into something that I stumbled with that could be important.
One of the lessons I uncovered I call the Toolbox of Knowledge. If you think about it, we acquire various knowledge through our own experiences all the time whether it’s through school, a job, relationships, etc. These situations are exactly where my metaphoric “toolbox” comes in handy.
As an example, imagine hiring someone because something’s wrong in your house. They say they can fix and promptly come over but there’s only one problem, they only arrive with one tool in hand. Now, they could certainly get that job done, potentially. But if they don’t really know what the problem is, or didn’t expect it to exactly as they found it, one tool may not be enough and therefore they can’t possibly handle the task or it might end up being extremely challenging and corners might be cut.
Now imagine that same person showing up and having one or two or three big toolboxes, all different tools, all sizes, and different materials to help out in whatever challenge they approached. I’d bet money they can get the job done.
That’s how I want everyone to think about their life. Since we can’t change the past, let’s not focus on it. What’s happened has happened. So, I really want everyone to focus on going forward. Whether it’s your day job you have, whether it’s some side hustle, it could be something with your family, it could be your fitness and nutrition.
What are you going to do to fill up that next toolbox or the next one after that?
Think about your job today. Are you maximizing every once of the opportunity to learn? If you’re in sales, for instance, do you seek out advice from the top reps in the company to learn, have you sat with other managers to gain perspective on how they run their teams or are you talking with customer success teams to learn more about the customer’s needs. These are small examples but they are the kind of things that can be done to help you gain additional knowledge and leverage that experience for your future.
The real question when you look in your “accountability mirror” is are you maximizing your opportunities to learn information that could be very useful for you many years down the road.
I take it from a fitness standpoint, right? You can certainly putter around each day; maybe you go for a walk. But maybe you don’t eat well, right? Maybe you’ve put on some weight; maybe your fitness is not there.
Are you acquiring the proper knowledge to help you get healthier and improve? Are you doing research to figure out if there is a better way that’s going to improve my longevity, my sleep, or my energy? Or are you just using the information you’ve gathered from the past and assuming it’s still correct?
That’s really what I want to challenge everyone that’s reading this to think about. What could your “toolbox” be next week, next month, or next year? Could you just fill it up a little bit more or could you fill up three toolboxes full?
When you’re carrying it into that next job, or that new gym you signed up, or maybe a new relationship you have to ask yourself what you are bringing to the table starting out and how are you going to grow to be a better person going forward. How are you going to try and taste new things and new experiences to build up that toolbox.
Try one thing next week. That’s it, one thing, and see what happens. Reach out to a co-worker in a different department that works with your department from time to time. Ask them questions to learn about their day-to-day and be curious to know what things they know that could be valuable for your role, and vice versa. If you feel you’ve gained weight, go search online for an hour about healthy foods and ways to structure your eating such as Intermittent Fasting. There are so many simple ways to gain more knowledge and learn from new experiences.
The hard part is to slip out of the warm comfortable bath and into an uncomfortable cold shower. However, I’ve learned if you do it in small doses you start to form the proper habits and harden your mind to do these things more often.
I want everyone to have that mindset. It’s a glass half full mindset, you’ve got to be positive in order to have the courage to shed the insecurities and seek out unknown places and conversations because those are the situations that make you a better human being both inside and out and allow you to carry that toolbox around and tackle any job in your path.
If you’d like to hear the full audio version of this article on my Just Get Started Podcast click here to go to Apple Podcasts-> The Toolbox of Knowledge One Mic Session or you can listen on any major Podcasting platform. This episode originally aired on September 12th, 2019.
This One Mic Session is a Reboot of an idea I tried 2 years ago…but just like life, sometimes excuses clutter your vision and momentum to accomplish things. So, it’s back to stay! The Dozen Months of Discovery.
Part of the premise of the Just Get Started Podcast is to get out of your comfort zone and try to accomplish things far greater than you ever imagined. Whether it is changing your eating habits, a better fitness routine, starting a business, etc. At the micro level, everything you do has to be “started” at some point but are we truly pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones as much as possible and learning new skills or knowledge that can become valuable. Or, maybe it doesn’t become something valuable but you can say you tried it because it was interesting at the time. That’s okay, too.
That, my friends, is the whole premise of the Dozen Months of Discovery.
12 months to have 12 new adventures. This could be anything from committing to a workout plan one month to learning how to play the piano another, learning a language, or detoxing from Social Media. Whatever it is you have to invest time into it and you have to practice but more than that is your mindset and focus on accomplishing the challenge must be present everyday. We (and I certainly mean me) say over and over “I wish I could do….” Or “I wish I tried….”. As the old saying goes, “You can wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which gets filled up first”.
Stop wishing. Why not go out and do it? I know your answer. I don’t have time. It may actually take less than you think. Malcolm Gladwell famously wrote that you need about 10,000 hours to master a skill. But I’m not asking you to master a skill, I’m asking you to try and learn a new skill and become good at it. So, how long would that take?
Well, someone already did that research for me and his name is Josh Kaufman. Now, Josh did a phenomenal Ted talk about this topic and, in short, concluded that to learn and be good at a new skill it would take about 20 hours. I highly recommend you watch the entire Ted Talk here – How to Learn Anything in 20 Hours – as it provides a lot more context.
Also, Podcast Guest (Episode 76) Scott Young and his book “Ultralearning” is a fantastic guidebook of some useful techniques and stories to speed up your learning and actually make it sticky.
So, the question I posed to myself a little while back and will pose to you right now is…How far did you advance yourself this past year? How much more could you have done that would have led to increased skill development, more fulfillment or joy in your life, new doors being open…all of it….How far did you push that needle?
Get out of your comfort zone and try to make the next year your best year even. You certainly won’t get there by doing the same thing you are doing now. You must broaden your horizons and I think this is one way to do it.
So here’s the challenge.
Pick 12 new skills/challenges/topics you think would be cool or interesting or maybe something you always wanted to learn. If you can’t think of that many then ask your friends and family or post online and ask your larger community to throw out ideas.
Next, write them down and share with the world those 12 you are going to learn.
Finally, each month you need to pick a goal that will be the accomplishment you are trying to achieve by the end of that month. If you don’t pick a goal you can’t conclude if you truly learned anything. Don’t make it too easy but push yourself.
Now, start with the first one on the first day of the next month and do it. Learn by taking classes locally, watching videos online, syncing up with a friend skilled in that craft, whatever. Invest around 20 hours that month and see what you can accomplish.
I’m starting this endeavor on January 1st, 2020. My first monthly challenge is to not launch one social media app (Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter) for the entire month. I’ll document each journey prior to starting and the week after I finish each month. Some other ideas I have are Stretching for 1-hour each day for a month and learning a new language over the course of a month. The list is still getting worked out and look forward to any suggestions!
If you are down to join, let me know and we can hold each other accountable. If not, we’ll catch you for the next one and I’d love to hear what you are trying to do to challenge yourself and push beyond your comfort zone.