Monthly Archives: January 2019

How To Create Momentum

In this post you’ll find a few strategies on how to create and keep momentum.

In life and business there is this tendency to overvalue the importance of starting things. We hear that we can’t win the lotto if we don’t buy the ticket, and so we fall for the idea that all it takes to succeed in life is to start things, and so we start and quit, and start and quit, and each time we fight to be just as enthusiastic as before.

How to create and keep momentum?

At the essence of the momentum is the idea of movement. When we start something, we start movement towards a certain direction. Creating this movement in general easier than we think, what’s really difficult is to keep it. Below are a few ideas on how to start and keep your forward momentum.

Identify the set of actions which will aid on your forward momentum

When we think of momentum what we mean is more specifically “forward momentum”, meaning the kind of momentum that eventually propels us forward towards the direction we want to go, as opposed to backwards to the places we’ve been, and that we want to keep in the past.

We often fail to start and keep this forward momentum for the same reasons why most of us fail to achieve personal goals:

  • 1) Not having a clear idea of what the goal is

Here we don’t have a clear idea of what the direction is, but unluckily for us we think we do. One very common sign of this problem is when asked about where you want to go, you have difficulty explaining it in two sentences or less.

You know you have a clear idea of where you want to go when there is not vagueness. No room for interpretation about your destination. If you were to tell the whole planet about your journey, every one of us would have the exact same picture in mind, regardless of whether some are theoretical physicists, priests, or philosophers.

  • 2) Not  knowing/finding out what things will make the goal/dream more likely to come true

The second problem is not knowing or bothering to know what things will create and feed your momentum.

Momentum is fed by action. We’re quick to forget this, and the worst thing about it is that often all it is required is a handful of well thought actions to create and keep your momentum alive. The longer momentum is kept alive, meaning the longer you keep these actions that add to your momentum, no matter how small the addition, the more resilient and powerful the forward momentum becomes.

Some actions slow us down, and some actions move us forward depending on the goal. If the goal is to lose weight, each healthy meal is one point added to our weight loss forward momentum, and each unhealthy meal one/more points are removed from your forward momentum. Eventually the loss outweighs the gains, and we find ourselves regressing over time as opposed to progressing over time. So, it’s important to know, and even make a list of the set of things that will add to your momentum, as well as the set of things which will take from it.

Reduce your expectations

In the last decades the society has taught us to have as sky high expectations as possible. We’re now taught to dream big, and having little/low expectations in virtually anything is looked down upon. This form of thinking has spread so far, and so wide that now it’s almost a sin to have less than super stellar expectations. The thing is that just like anything perceived in a black/white manner, this way of looking at things is great as a mindset, and also just as bad as a mindset. The reason for this is context.

If what we’re planning at the moment is something as grandiose as our life and big picture goals, having high expectations/desires/dreams is the way to go. The reason for this being that life is only one(as far as we know), and living a less and amazing life is just a waste of a life. So with high expectations we amount the kind of energy and motivation that allows us to pursue and bring amazing things to our lives, making them as a result, more worth living.

If the place we find ourselves at is on the other hand the bottom of a mountain preparing ourselves to take the first step, this same sky high expectations can be detrimental to our motivation at best, and dream killing at worse. Because with big dreams it’s not only inspiration the thing that takes space in our minds, but also the fear and doubts that make us wonder if we’re not setting out to bite more than we can chew. These same fears and insecurities are what make up most of if not all of the voices that bother us when we decide to start on our quest. These fears and insecurities make up the voices that urge us to stop doing the things that aid on our momentum.

We all know that depending on the case different activities will add different amounts to our forward momentum, and usually the things that add the most although appealing for their impact tend to be the hardest to sustain. So the goal here is to reduce your expectations not about the big picture goal, but about your own will power, and ability to sustain difficult and time consuming activities for long. Most people will disagree with this, but the thing is that what prevents us from thinking this way is our egos. When we plan a goal we ignore the fact that the state of mind we’re at, at the moment will hardly be the same when we’re out there, and we’re facing failure after failure.

The ex-navy seal David Goggins drives this point home in many of his Youtube videos and interviews, when he mentions the fact that when we plan to run a marathon, we’re often in a room with a warm cup of coffee, never when we are midway in another marathon state of mind. In other words, we make difficult decisions easily when we’re comfortable, and it’s only when we’re facing the dragon that we start wonder where our common sense was at when we made the decision in the first place.

On our forward momentum list, pick the set of activities that you can perform even when the conditions are suboptimal, that will still move you a step forward towards your destination, no matter how small the step. So that way, when the time comes and your stressed, or demotivated, you can lean back on those small, and not time consuming actions that keep your pace one level above neutral.

Make the actions that add to momentum habits

Still on the same line of thought is to turn the small actions that allow you to move forward without a lot of effort habits. The reason for this is that when we’re on edge, the hardest thing to do is to keep a clear mind, and without a clear mind, it’s almost impossible to stay on track, and keep moving forward. Habits on the other hand, carry with them the advantage that we don’t have to monitor them as much as any other kind of activity. It’s as if our body is able to execute them without our intervention, and so, when the time comes that our rational selves go offline, our “irrational” selves knows exactly what to do.

The thing about habits is that they have to be established first through conscious action for long enough until they become engrained. This is a challenge by itself, but according to recent research the time they take is not that much (67 days according to the universe College London). One trick to make them stick that I not only use very often but that is also effective is to perform these actions you want to turn into habits every day, at the same time. When we do it randomly we give ourselves the extra chore of deciding when to do what we have to do, and us being the procrastinating animals that we are, push that decision away until there is no more time left. When we schedule the things we have to do we have one less challenge, and all we have to do is to make sure we keep the string of successes. Meaning keeping the string of days where we do what we have to do for long enough, until they become habits.

Protect your momentum

The last and probably one of the most important things to do when we create momentum is to protect it. We hear about taking action, but rare are the cases when someone ever talks about protecting progress. Below are a few things to watch out for, when you start moving forward.

The self-sabotaging animal within

We all have this second person within us that often sabotages any good thing we create for ourselves. The reason why this second being even exists is a matter for psychologists to discuss about, but the important thing is that it does exist. We can choose to ignore it to our own detriment, or acknowledge it. It’s by acknowledging this inner self sabotaging animal that we can do anything about it. It’s only then that we can design strategies to minimize or invalidate its influence.

Doubts and insecurities

One way the self-saboteur works is by raising doubts about the effect of our actions or even the existence of our momentum altogether. One way to solve this problem is by 1) making sure from start that the actions we think as positive really are as positive as we think, and when the doubts arise we remind ourselves that we were smart enough when we thought about these actions, and 2) to from day one be sure of our destination. If we do 1) and 2) we can be sure that any doubt that comes after we start taking action is nothing more than just the self-saboteur trying to sway us away from the right path.

The It’s fine to not do it today syndrome

One common thing that happens when we finally start getting the forward momentum we seek is to fall for the belief/idea that since we’re on a good roll, that it’s a good  idea to take the foot off the pedal for a moment. In the end of the day we did earn, and we do deserve that break, and we all know that we shouldn’t do anything for too long without a break, at least that’s what we tell ourselves. The problem with such breaks is that, they not only bring our momentum to a halt, but also make it difficult to go back to work when the time/date comes that we set to go back at it. This is a particularly dangerous thing to do if we’ve only been in that so called “roll” for a little while, since our new habits might not be old enough to survive the break we think we deserve. Just like a recovering drug addict, we should think 10 times before we consider taking our hands off the wheel, no matter how OK we think we feel.

When is it ok to take such breaks? Well, that’s up to you and it changes from situation to situation, but my approach is to first go way past the point where the new behaviour has become a habit. This is that place where not doing what you’re supposed to do at the time you usually do it creates a mental itch, which can only be scratched by doing what your habit craves to do. You definitely know you’re there when you don’t have to think about doing whatever you have to do, and you often find yourself midway of doing it when you become aware that you’re doing it in the first place.

The point is that it will take a considerable amount of time before you can allow yourself to take these breaks you think you deserve/don’t matter. 

It is all about knowledge and experience;)

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How to become mentally stronger?

In this post you’ll find a few tips on how to become mentally stronger.

In life and business, we are all subject to pretty much anything the universe throws at us. It doesn’t matter who we are and what we want, and any day that goes can the one that changes everything to the better, and just as likely to the bad. It’s when we prepare ourselves for these moments of hardship that we increase the odds that we’ll ride them when they come, and even better, that we’ll survive them and come the other way with an inspiring story to tell.

How to become mentally stronger?

So, how can we become mentally stronger? This question is one of those that has puzzled in the past, and still does today pretty much all the members of the human race. In one end we have this desire for complete, and forever lasting comfort, and on the other, this inherent knowledge that too much can be detrimental, to the level that it not only makes us more likely to drain away our fitness and vitality, but also and even worse the power to make our minds softer, and more likely to break in the first signs of pressure or stress. The first idea as we’ll talk below goes on those lines and is one I learned from the Ex-Navy Seal David Goggins.

Intentionally expose yourself to discomfort

As we talked above, we are comfort seekers to the core, and the only reason why our ancestors are not known for the problems that today affect more and more people such as obesity, heart disease and depression, is that nature has discomfort built in, and when there is no escaping nature, discomfort becomes the routine that helps us grow.

With automation present in all facets of life it has become more and more easy for anyone to mitigate the inconveniences that nature brings, and with that, us being who we are, the only way to experiencing them, meaning the inconveniences of nature, is through sheer intention. The first thing to think about is just that. To remember that our primal selves when faced with easy, and hard will always take the easy road, and with each choice we become weaker and weaker as man and women.

So, make it your business to expose yourself to discomfort. Instead of showering everyday with hot water, try to shower with cold at least once a week. Instead of always eating breakfast, try to skipping it once a week, or try a 24 hour fast. Even on working out. Going to the gym is hard enough for most of us, but one thing I learned just recently is that running on plain ground is more difficult than running on a treadmill. It’s true that cardio is not the favourite work out of lots of people, but even then, will all that discomfort, there is some hidden comfort.

Push just one step more

Another idea for increased mental toughness is to take care of the early quitting habit. The first moment we feel the mental and physical discomfort that comes when we think we are at the edge of our capabilities, is often enough for most of us to slow down, pack our bags and call it a day. The problem with that is that just like a bodybuilder who always lifts the same weights we don’t get to benefit from the growth can comes when we step just a little outside our boundaries. For the bodybuilder this would mean lifting an extra 5 or 10lbs, and four us it could be as simple as trying just one more time. The crazy thing about trying one more time is that it often propels us to trying 2, 3 or more times, and before we know we lose count of how hard we have been working on our goals.  David Goggins has a rule for this that he calls the 40% rule, which according to him is the level in which we begin to have these feelings of doubt and insecurity about what we’re trying to achieve, and where most fall for the quitting temptation. He teaches in Can’t Hurt Me that we should create the habit of getting past that. When we start having those thoughts, it shouldn’t be a sign that we should stop, but a sign that we just reached our 40%.

Practice endurance

The next idea here is to practice endurance. While trying one more step is about expanding our comfort zone an inch at a time, practicing endurance is about looking for what is known as “The second wind”. We all experience it one point or another, in the moments in which extreme levels of action is what’s called for, and our tank is drained to its ultimate drop. It comes in the moments in which we need to get more when there is no more, and somehow, to our surprise, we do find more. When a few seconds before we were sure we were done, now we not only fabricated something out of nothing, but also have more to give than we did before. In any kind of physical activity or work this is when we suddenly put more energy and speed than we did before, and we have the weird belief in our bones that we could go forever if we so wished.

The idea here is to look past the tiredness or pain, and seek for that feeling, since as you’re probably aware of, it never comes when we’re resting on the couch eating cookies and watching Netflix. When we’re in pain it helps when we have something concrete to seek, especially when the pain or tiredness itself becomes the way to these moments of ecstasy.

Practice persistence

Endurance and persistence are similar to some extent, but a more detailed look shows how different they are. In endurance we are pretty much fighting  the urge to stop doing  something difficult, while in persistence, its more about keeping coming back for more, after our 100th no. When we think about mental toughness we think mostly of the ability to cruise through adversity with the kind of calmness we get when we meditate or drink a cup of tea. There is another side to mental toughness. This is that side. When in order to get what we want we have to try the same thing dozens if not hundreds of times, with the hopes that the next one is the one that does the trick, and the emotional preparedness to deal with the likely case that the next try is not the one.

Each failure brings with it an array of painful emotions to have, from shame to outright depression. So no wonder going back to the drawing board and putting our new strategies to test is as aversive as it is for all of us. We don’t want to feel that pain of failure, and with it comes also the feeling of uncertainty that  any endeavour has, making the idea of pursuing a dream feel less like the fairy tale the self-help industry makes it to be, and more like a sick joke from the universe, or of whoever is running things up there.

On the Brightside the more times we come back for more the less weight we add to each failure, and the less weight we attribute to each failure, the easier it becomes to come back for more. Before we know it we become more like scientists, who knock on doors one at a time in the search for answers, more and more oblivious to the initial pain that came from each try.

Acknowledge the enemy within

We all have at least two people we call “us”. They are often in conflict with one another, each with its own agenda, doing all it can to realise its goals. One is impulsive and reckless, and the other is calm and controlled. One can become emotional at any time, and for any reason, while the other is the “us” in “us” that we look for when we meditate. The calm and peaceful “us” that can stay as calm in the battlefield as a librarian does in a library, and is capable of making hard decisions regardless of the surrounding environment. We all know who we all want to be, or better yet, who we want to be most of the time. Unfortunately we often swing back and forth from one to the other, making us wonder if deep inside we have some sort of bipolar tendency. The thing is that chances are that we do not, and it’s all a matter of taking control of our own minds. As said in the book The obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday this is: “simple, but not easy”.

The first step is to acknowledge that second person, and decide who we want it to be in charge. One of the ideas in the practice of meditation is to become more aware of the things that second voice shows and tells us, and by practice of will decide what to focus on, instead of being guided by the often mindless thoughts or images ironically brought up by the mind itself.

In The obstacle is the way, the author teaches us about the idea of doing the right thing, right now. Meaning that instead of focusing on how our lives will be in 10 years, to replace that with the now. Ask what we can do in the moment in order to get to the big picture destination, and do it with the best of our abilities. The same idea can be applied to the conquest of the real estate of the mind. Each moment you fight for control is the most important moment of your life, and over time the mind hands more and more control to you. The reason why this is important is that at last, the moments we consider as moments of mental weakness, are really the moments in which we listen to the advice of that second voice, and we succumb into the feelings of depression and powerlessness. It’s when we take control that we truly experience mental toughness.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Reinvent Yourself?

In this post you’ll find a few ideas on how to reinvent yourself.

In life when we think about reinventing something, that something is usually a business or a piece of machinery, and only after, if at all, we talk about it in the personal sense. This feeling usually comes from the sense of emptiness we all feel at some point or another when the views/beliefs we currently hold don’t match the way we  feel internally. So, the urging feeling of change grows over time, and just like a patient diagnosed with a new disease, all we know is what the problem is, and not how to fix it.

How to reinvent yourself?

So, how do you reinvent yourself? The first thing to do is to of course, be sure this is what you really want, and to what extent you want this thing you call self reinvention. Sometimes what we really feel is not so much the sense of lack of contentedness with the current state of affairs, but boredom, and boredom as you well know is one of those things that comes and goes. The kind of thing that depending on how you look at it, could make us feel like what we have now isn’t what the long term, or overall “us” wants. It’s the kind of thing that prevents this world from having as many masters as it could have, simply because most apprentices misunderstand the rather common to all, and temporary boredom they feel at a given moment with their craft, as a clear and divine sign, that they don’t love what they thought they loved Afterall. The assumption is that we always like the things we love, which looking from this light sounds ridiculous, since rare are the cases that we always like the people we love.

The point here is to be sure your discontentment is not momentary thing, but a fundamental one, of the kind that if left alone would impede you from having the most enjoying life you could have. If that’s the case below are a few ideas, you can apply to life and business, for those moments in which change is what it’s called for.

1.Change little by little

The first idea here is to avoid the tendency to make massive change at once, but instead to do it little by little, through addition, and subtraction, trial and error, until you find the optimal amount of change you need. As much as this tip might sound more like a tip for life and not for business, the truth is that it was inspired by a now common business practice taught in the book The lean startup by Eric Ries. If you haven’t read it, the idea is simple, and goes as follows. You come up with an idea, develop the simplest version of it, and with only the necessary features to do what it’s supposed to do. From the first iteration you collect feedback on the overall concept of the product, and if it’s positive you go to the next iteration, where you add one more feature, and repeating then the cycle of release, feedback collection, response to the feedback, until the product gets to its mature stage. If the feedback is negative however, it might be the case that there is something fundamentally wrong with the overall concept, and in these cases it might be the case that the idea is not as viable as you thought, requiring you then to go back to the drawing board. The same approach is taken when a given iteration receives negative feedback, but the reaction here might be as little as either improving the failures of the new feature, or pulling it back altogether.

The idea here is to apply the same iterative process o your reinvention. Instead of an all out, complete 180 change, you should try to do so in little bits. Just like a feature making a minor change in carrier, relationships, or habits, and pay close attention on how it affects you. Does it make your life better? Or worse? Based on the answer you might chose to either build up on your recently made change, or remove it altogether. In the carrier field, this minor change might be as little as changing departments/roles within your organization, and if that’s not possible finding a way to spend a day in the shoes of the people who live the life you think you want live. In relationships, be that romantic or just pure business networking, the same can not only be done, but much more easily. Instead of deleting all your friends and connections, a simple application of that rule would only require you to spend some time with, or befriend the kind of person you think you might make you happier, and see if that really is the case or not.

The point here is simple: resist the urge to change your life completely. Doing so will make it much easier to pinpoint the changes that added value to your life, the ones which were neutral, and the ones that took away from it.

2. Experiment, and only integrate the things that work

Still in the same vein, it’s always important to be aware that just because something is generally thought of as good doesn’t mean it’s good for you. There is this growing tendency of today for society in general and the people close to us to impose Nobel goals we never had onto us. From the pressure we are more likely to adopt these goals that we either never had, or that were secondary, as primary goals, pushing the things that really matter for us  down the list, making us more and more unhappy with the process. The crazy thing is that we’ve all been so accustomed with such behavior that it might take some self reflection for us to find these kinds of goals in our lists. Common goals are the kind of goals that include us saving the world, or our communities even when we’re still on our way to accomplishing a dream, spending “working on our goals time” in a social events because we would look bad in the eyes of others if we were to miss that cousin’s we only talk to once a year birthday.

The point is that if you have  a goal in your list that seems to be in the way of other more important goals instead of getting you fired up, chances are that the thing you consider a goal really isn’t. Even when we identify the goals that are not goals in our bucket list we are all still prone to feeling of guilt when we place “Going to a third world country to save children” behind making money, and become successful. The solution for this is to remember that we all have only one life, and to spend it doing the things which will make us look good in the eyes of others, instead of doing the things that would make you wish for nothing more when its your time to go, chances are that when that time comes, you’ll have a sea of regrets.

3. Beware of the people close to you

When we try to implement any kind of change in our lives, one of the biggest problems we face invariably is the reactions of the people around us. If we used to spend all afternoons with the friends taking drinking and partying, and we suddenly replace that time with extra hours at work, chances are that friends and family will make us feel guilty for doing it regardless of whether we’re trying to get a better life for ourselves or not. And if they have enough of an influence over us, chances are that we are also likely to revert back into our old habits. So, along with making changes slowly, its also important to be prepared to the fact that we’re likely to face some resistance from the people close to us, and again to remember that in the end of the day, we only have one life, and living it fully is the best way to live it.

Failing to guard yourself from that is just like with a drug addict who ignores its tendencies, a big mistake. It’s when you prepare yourself for the negative feelings and tendencies that await us, that we can ride them more smoothly, even though the task is still difficult.

4. Be Patient

The last and by no means the least important thing to consider here just like with any project  to be patient. We tend to think we know what will make us happy, and yet 50% of the people who get married end up in divorce. In the same thought process at the beginning of any journey we all assume we’ll work at it until we get what we want, and yet, more often than not it’s the case that people tend to give up on their goals instead of persisting. As far as change is concerned, it might take some time, and trial and error until you bump into the new kind of business that will fulfil you the most, or the carrier you always wanted but never knew.

So, for this kind of problem, meaning the problem of persistence, my strategy is not on relying on the hopes that my persistence will remain until I get what I want, but instead to set a minimum number of trials before I give myself the right to complain or feeling discouraged. A generic example is the number 1000, where before you hit it, you can’t say that you tried hard enough. This is not to say that you should quit on your goals after you hit the magic number, but that more often than not, we tend to quit very early in the journey, and setting a ridiculously high a number of trials will at worse guarantee that we put more of ourselves out there before throwing the towel, and at best increase the odds that we’ll get whatever it is we want.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Learn Anything

In this post you’ll find a few strategies you can employ to learn anything life throws at you.

In life and business the ability to learn new things is one of those things we all agree is valuable, but most of us fail to take the necessary steps to making it possible. The benefits are certainly there and clear. The more we learn about the more problems we can solve, and not as interesting but still, we become more interesting people to hangout with. Unless of course we become one of these know it all annoying people who always feel the need to let people know when they know something.

How To Learn anything?

So, how can you learn anything? The common way of thinking of the day is that we’re either born with the intelligence that will allow us to learn difficult subjects, or not. Take math for example, most of us we don’t have a knack for it, but still, most of us were able, at a younger age to learn things such as addition and subtraction, and because it’s all in the past now, we forget how hard it was to actually get the point of what arithmetic was about. Below is a simple step by step model you can start implementing today to master the subjects you find difficult.

 1.Know exactly what you want to learn

The big problem with any kind of activity is to fall for the temptation of having a vague idea of what you want to accomplish. When we’re not completely sure of what we want, it not only requires more effort from your brain, but it also makes it much harder to resist the urge to quit, the moment we find out that our goals are longer than we expected.

When we have a clear idea of what we want to achieve, we switch from the thinking that we don’t have the gift/luck to get what we want, to asking what might have we done wrong.

So, the first step in the learning anything land is to have a clear idea of what you want to learn, just like when you want to master a subject, you don’t focus on the subject as a whole, but instead focus on subtopics, and the subtopics within the subtopics, until we have something small enough at hands that we can, with enough effort understand in an hour or two.

 2. Replace the idea of the difficult with the complex

    There is one common misconception most people have towards any kind of knowledge or skill acquisition, and that is to look at a complex subject/skill, and label it as difficult, and the tendency we have towards the things we label as difficult is that of avoidance. We think math is difficult and we immediately assume we don’t have the gift for it, and so we quit on learning about it.

    The truth is that any subject in math, just like anything else is nothing more than a combination of one or more simple ideas/concepts. We start from the basic ideas we can easily understand, or that happen to be intuitive to the mind, and from these we establish a new combination of two and more simples, to make a more complex idea, and on, and on, until we get to the point in which there are enough layers of complexity that a mind that never learned the basics feels puzzled just to think of it.

    I had this experience more than once in my academic carrier, where in one class I didn’t learn the basics, or missed  one or more relationship layers, failed to pinpoint which one it was, and boom, the whole thing became the a mountain of complexity, easily labeled as difficult.

    I also had the opposite experience in more than one math class, where I got not only the basics right, but each layer of added complexity in the right time, and both my marks and my understanding of the subject went through the roof.

    So, the idea here is that when we fail to understand anything it’s not so much for the lack of brains, but for us either not understanding what one or more units of information we have at hand are about, or how they relate to one another.

    Looking for the definition

    The best way to learn about something is to know what it is, that is, to know its definition.

    By looking at what the definition of what something is, we can if we pay enough attention pinpoint the wordings and ideas we can’t understand. In definitions we often have other definitions and relationships compacted into one or more words, and this is often the reason why we fail to understand what some definitions are about: we don’t know what the components of the definitions or the relationships between the components are all about. So by pinpointing the components we don’t understand, and applying the same idea to them, we can understand even the most complex of the ideas. If you apply this idea, you’ll notice that the sub-items you don’t understand, tend to be definitions themselves, and if we don’t understand its respective components, and/or the relationships between the components, meaning how one component relates to another, we’ll fail to understand this sub-definition, and thus also the main definition.

    Think of it as building a building. We can only have a level two if we have a level one, in the same way that we can only have a stable level two if we have a stable level one.

    There is such a thing as degrees of understanding

    Continuing in the same breath, it’s important to be aware that it’s possible for one to understand something a little or a lot. We don’t talk about this often, and this idea that understanding is Boolean, meaning black and white, is so engrained in our minds that we are quick to feel embarrassed to even say that we half understand a concept.

    If you think of a definition as a building, and the sub-definitions/sub-concepts within it as the levels or bricks that make the whole idea whole, and also that it’s possible that we can understand some of the sub-definitions/sub-concepts and not others, it’s much easier to see how it’s possible to understand something only partially.

    Remember in school when the teacher reversed the subject in order of teaching? Like when they had to explain something we could easily understand, but the explanation was only possible if they included an idea or concept we didn’t yet have enough of a background to understand? Chances are that we did understand what they explained, but not fully, because there are parts of the explanation/definition we didn’t fully understand, and thus we couldn’t understand the whole completely.

    Think of reproduction in human biology for example. We all think we fully understand how it works but the truth is that most of us don’t. Human reproduction just like everything else is understood in degrees. If one has absolutely no knowledge about the reproductive organs, one can still say and feel like he/she understands reproduction but it doesn’t, at least not fully. The next level of understanding would be to know what the reproductive organs are about(their definitions), and how they interact with one another in a fundamental level, of the kind we can’t see with the naked eye. Which would lead us to learning about the eggs, the sperm, and how they interact, and even then, we would only have a partial understanding of how human reproduction works. The following step would be to learn about the DNA, and from there whatever makes the DNA the DNA (Its definition), and on, and on….

    Each step of the way all we do is to attempt to understand what the elements in the definition of human reproduction are  about, and whatever is somewhat ambiguous we turn to it’s definition, and its sub components, until we know and understand all the sub definitions of all definitions, and then we understand the whole. This is what science is about: the quest to find the most fundamental truth of all truths. When we think we found it, there is always an element in our final definition that remains ambiguous, and we recursively apply the same idea over and over again.

    The point here is that chances are that no matter how difficult the subject, chances are that you have some partial understanding of what it is about, and increasing this current percentage of understanding might be as simple as pinpointing the ambiguous points, and going after their definitions.

    3. Find out what’s missing

    When we fail to understand an idea we are often tempted to find a simple answer for why we couldn’t understand it, and the easiest is to say that we just don’t have the brains for it. The truth is that more often than not we don’t know how much we can/cannot learn. More often than not our lack of understanding comes from our being lost in the sea of ambiguity. Meaning that we do have the basics to understand a complex idea, but we don’t have all the steps in the ladder that leads us to the complex idea, in a simple and effortless manner that makes our understanding of that complex idea intuitive to the mind.   

    So the first step towards the understand of any idea, or at least most of them, is to find out the missing link in the link of ideas that leads us to the more complex idea, starting from the most basic your mind understands. The way to do this by is recursively, getting the definition of A, where A is the complex idea, then finding out what concepts or ideas in the definition of A you don’t understand, and finally applying the process above over and over until the missing link is found.

    Another problem is that of not knowing where to find the content that takes you in the hand, from the basic to the uttermost complex. Unluckily for us  the more complex the idea, the more difficult it is to find such a piece of content, but this doesn’t mean going through the logical steps that teach you the complex from the basic is impossible. More often than not all we find are a few golden nuggets along the way, that step by step lead us to the understanding of the previously deemed un-understandable. Luckily for us is that as long as we make it clear what part of the puzzle we’re trying to understand, with the aid of Google and Wikipedia, we can quickly find the definitions of pretty much anything we can think of.


    So, the main idea here is twofold. 1) Explore ambiguities, such as words you don’t know the meaning of, and ideas you don’t yet understand and 2) Take the same logical steps from the basic to the complex, such that once you’re done, the complex comes almost intuitively to the mind, in the same way that lifting 101 lbs at the gym comes easily when you’ve been building up pound by bound, lifting a little heavier each day for a year.

    It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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