Monday, May 30, 2016


     The people who are most successful at learning - those who are able to digest the data surrounding them, who absorb insights embedded in their experiences and take advantage of information flowing past - are the ones who know how to use disfluency to their advantage.  They transform what life throws at them, rather than just taking it as it comes.  They know the best lessons are those that force us to do something and to manipulate information.  They take data and transform it into experiments whenever they can.  Whether we use the engineering design process or test an idea at work or simply talk through a concept with a friend, by making information more disfluent, we paradoxically make it easier to understand...

     In our own lives, the same lesson applies:  When we encounter new information and want to learn from it, we should force ourselves to do something with the data.  It's not enough for your bathroom scale to send daily updates to an app on your phone.  If you want to lose weight, force yourself to plot those measurements on graph paper and you'll be more likely to choose a salad over a hamburger at lunch.  If you read a book filled with new ideas, force yourself to put it down and explain the concepts to someone sitting next to you and you'll be more likely to apply them in your life.  When you find a new piece of information, force yourself to engage with it, to use it in an experiment or describe it to a friend - and then you will start building the mental folders that are at the core of learning.
     Every choice we make in life is an experiment.  Every day offers fresh opportunities to find better decision making frames.  We live in a time when data is more plentiful, cheaper to analyze, and easier to translate into action then ever before.  Smartphones, websites, digital databases, and apps put information at our fingertips.  But it only becomes useful if we know how to make sense of it.

-Charles Duhigg,  Smarter Faster Better:  The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

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