Professor Richard Feynman once tweeted, “The trick to learning is enjoying.” Except, he didn’t actually tweet it because he’s dead and someone else is running this twitter account. But it doesn’t matter because that’s not the point of this article.
The trick to learning is enjoying.
When was the last time you actually enjoyed learning?
Frantically stuffing your brain with facts to sound smart on a podcast? Sure. Panicking about what you don’t know? Yup.
But enjoyed learning? Like lost-track-of-time, look forward to it on the weekends, can’t-wait-to-dive-deeper-because-I-want-to enjoyed learning?
I’m guessing it’s been a while.
Yet, we’re still buying up online courses like hot cakes.
No one is judging you for investing in education, self-help, and information products. (So please, spare me the apologetic emails you guys keep sending. My beef is not with self-education.)
Acquiring knowledge is a GREAT thing.
Filling your brain with facts, information, knawledge is one of the best parts of being alive in the 21st century. We have more information at our fingertips than everyone else in human history COMBINED. #succas
Knowledge is fantastic. Learn everything you can about everything. Knowledge is not the problem.
The problem is that we stopped having fun and we stopped applying that knowledge.
The correct reason to sign up for a course is because you’re genuinely interested in the topic and want to learn more (or improve a skill). Learning gets you all revved up and excited.
But most of us don’t feel like that because learning isn’t our real motivation here. We’re looking for something else.
We’re looking for answers.
When you’re motivated by fear instead of curiosity, learning becomes scary. Suddenly, you feel like if you don’t have that course, book, or workshop you won’t be able to reach any of your goals.
Lack of knowledge becomes an excuse for inaction.
It makes sense. Each of us can recall a time we felt like an idiot in public because we moved forward without all the facts or stated an opinion before knowing everything we could about the topic.
We never want to feel like that again because it triggers our worst fear: That everyone knows something we don’t.
The fear goes something like this:
Everyone else in the world got the instructions to how life works, but somehow you missed that day in Kindergarten. You were sick the day they handed out that worksheet with the checklist.
It’s not an unreasonable fear. There’s always more you can know and there are plenty of people who know more than you about lots of things.
But the belief that you are incomplete or insufficient without this knowledge is what keeps you from growing (and, ironically, keeps you from actually learning) and why I’m writing this today.
Because that belief is also what’s motivating you to buy that course, which is the wrong reason.
It doesn’t matter that you’ve taken 20 billion online courses. What matters is what you do with what you learned in them.
There’s knowledge and then how you apply that knowledge.
The answers you’re looking for are in the application.
Keep taking courses – keep learning. But do it out of a genuine thirst for learning. Let curiosity be your motivator, not fear. Then take what you learned and apply it to your own specific circumstances.
The sooner you stop relying on a template, checklist, or secret bastion of information to fix you, the sooner you’ll actually stumble upon the answers you need.