5 Steps to become a Knowledge Guru
July 17, 2019
Alexandre do Monte Lee @ June 27th 2019 – 4 min read
Learn and Retain Knowledge without excuses!
We live in an unprecedented era when it comes to access to knowledge (and we should all be grateful for that).
We live in an unprecedented era when it comes to access to knowledge (and we should all be grateful for that). Going back 30 years, if you needed to learn anything, you had to buy a book, attend onsite courses/classes/workshops, or talk to people regarded as subject-matter experts.
Today, not only you have all those options available (in much higher volumes) but also you have access with few clicks to a universe of information and knowledge on any topic, simple or complex, with various degrees of depth. You can learn whatever you want, whenever you want, at your own pace, with the desired depth and detail, and put the acquired knowledge in practice right away.
It amazes me (and annoys me a bit, I confess) when I hear someone say that he cannot learn because he doesn’t have time, doesn’t know where to start or where to find the materials, or any other form of “excusitis”.
Follow these 5 simple steps and develop knowledge retention discipline that will help you grow both professionally and personally.
It’s not mandatory to follow this sequence in one-shot. Depending on the subject matter, I encourage you to go through the 5 steps in multiple cycles, enabling you to put into practice what you learned while the topics are still “hot.”
1. Define your learning goal
“There is no favorable wind for the sailor who doesn’t know where to go,” Seneca said a long, long time ago. The first step in any learning endeavor is to define your end goal. Use the S.M.A.R.T. criteria whenever possible. Your goal should be Specific (ex: Attain the Project Management Professional certification by PMI), Measurable (ex: Passing the PMP Certification exam), Attainable (I have the conditions to achieve my goal), Relevant (I can apply the acquired knowledge professionally and it will help me grow and do a better job), Time bound (I will achieve my goal in the next 6 months).
2. Define whats the best learning method
After defining your learning goal, you must decide on what is(are) the best learning method(s) to adopt. This will depend on the learning area or topic. For a negotiation learning course, choosing onsite classes might be the best choice, essentially because you will benefit from practicing real-world situations in the form of role-play with other trainees and the trainer. For an introductory course on Computer Science and Programming, it might be more adequate to enroll in the MIT OpenCourseware class. For other topics, the best choice might be a blended-learning approach. Talk with someone you regard as knowledgeable in the area to advise you on the option that best suits your goals and needs.
3. Evaluate available options
Once it’s clear to you what learning method best suits your needs, it’s time to look for available enrollment options. If you choose onsite courses, you will want to balance location and schedule that fits your current calendar/availability. For online learning, you have a lot of options with different durations, depth, and costs. Here are some of the most well-known:
4. Attend the learning courses!
It’s now time to attend the learning course! I see a lot of people going quickly through steps 1 to 3 and then… they freeze. For the procrastinators out there, a good way to fight this is to schedule in advance, when applicable, the exam or certification date. It will create a healthy pressure to start learning!
5. Retain what you have learned
There are a lot of strategies to retain knowledge (most of them are targeted to students). Here are some of those that have consistently worked for me (and others) in the past:
– Practice what you have learned (use it immediately!);
– Teach what you have learned to someone;
– Discuss what you have learned with someone (individual or group);
– Build a summary and revisit contents to refresh your memory.