Total Reading Time: 3 minutes.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
Today there is more information being created and shared than ever before. We are all trying to learn more, do more, be more and grow our minds.
Yet, ironically, it has actually become more difficult to truly gain and implement knowledge. It’s become more difficult to become masters of something while also being able to retain it.
In school we were taught to retain knowledge for a short period of time, just to recite it with rote memory. We were not taught how to deeply ingrain the knowledge presented to us.
Richard Feynman — a theoretical physicist and bonafide genius — created a three-step process he personally used anytime he was learning something new. This is something you can use today in any area of your life.
One thing to understand here is that Richard was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. He was a genius who was able to take complex ideas and distil them down to simple stories and information.
Many of the greatest leaders and teachers of our time have this same ability and learning this process allows you to do the exact same thing.
Step 1: Teach It to a Child
Take that information and knowledge and literally write it down as if you were teaching it to a child. If you struggle in particular areas, that’s a good thing!
The struggle is your clue on the exact areas you have gaps in your knowledge.
Step 2: Review
Go back to the source material. Review and re-learn it until you can explain it in basic terms.
Step 3: Organize and Simplify Your New Knowledge
Take that new knowledge and write it down again. Organize it into a new story that flows.
Simplify it. Read it out loud and make sure that it comes out as simple and easy to understand for even an 8-year-old. Once you have done this, you are truly on your way.
Once you have done this, you are truly on your way. If you really want to lock this in, follow step four, which is optional.
Step 4: Transmit
Take that knowledge and transmit it. Find that 8-year-old in your life and teach this new knowledge to them. If you can’t find an 8-year-old to share your new knowledge with, identify someone who has zero knowledge about the topic and try with them instead.
The True Test
The true test is your ability and capacity to convey this new knowledge to another person. If after sharing with them they are able to say they completely understand and recite it back to you, then you have done your job.
The real second-level of the test is to see if they can go and teach the concept to someone else.
If you are able to do this, then you can truly learn anything.
Photo credit: Learning — CC license