Many of you have probably already read at least a dozen articles that promised to reveal the secrets or shortcuts to a successful professional life. While most of those are definitely helpful, they seem to be rather some tips & tricks more than anything else.
Each and every one of us is different, has his own goals, his own little thing that wakes him up in the morning and even his own waking time (no, you don’t have to rise & shine every morning at 5 am in order to be successful). Adding on top of that, we do live in a VUCA world, where it is almost impossible to predict what’s going to happen next and how exactly you should prepare for it. So what can you make of all this? Well, first of all, that you won’t be able to find a “secret recipe to success” that is universally applicable, because there is no such thing. But then, what us is the only “tool” that will help you in this world, no matter the situation? The one thing that is needed in order to do almost anything else? If you haven’t guessed by now (or you haven’t even read the title of this article), the answer is knowledge.
And I’m talking about the real knowledge.
Nowadays, way too many people use some type of pseudo-knowledge, grabbed from the first Google link that you can find, in order to brag about their high intellect. That kind of knowledge might only be useful to be the center of attention at a networking event or maybe a party, but elsewhere it won’t bring you that many benefits. As the genius physicist Richard Feynman wrote in his own autobiography: “You can know the name of that bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird. You’ll only know about humans in different places, and what they call the bird. … I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”
Therefore, how can you know that you really know something and not just its name?
First and foremost, you need a lot of time to gain that real knowledge that can help you in almost every aspect of your life. Go find a subject that you enjoy. And read about it. A LOT. Enroll in courses that tackle that subject. Talk to the experts. Only then you might have a shot of having obtained real knowledge. Do you want to know if you actually made it? Feynman comes to the rescue again with his unique method of double checking your own understanding, called The Feynman Technique:
“Without using the new word which you have just learned, try to rephrase what you have just learned in your own language.”
Write the name of the concept at the top of a blank piece of paper.
Write down an explanation of the concept on the page. Use plain English. Pretend you are teaching it to someone else (e.g a new student or even a child). This should highlight what you understand, but more importantly pinpoint what you don’t quite know.
Review what you have pinpointed you don’t know. Go back to the source material, re-read, and re-learn it. Repeat Step 2.
If you are using overly wordy or confusing language (or simply paraphrasing the source material) try again so you filter the content. Simplify your language, and where possible use simple analogy.
“The Feynman Technique Model” -Mattyford.com
“What do you care what other people think?” – Richard Feynman