Are you in a constant state of learning and never applying? Do you seek to create but you are stuck in the learning process and you never act on what you have learned?
I have heard it said many times, consume less, create more. But to create outstanding results, you need to consume more in the right proportion and at the right time.
Learning has never held as much allure as it does today. The amount of information we are exposed to has filled us with a sense of awe. We know we can listen to as many podcasts, watch as many videos and read as many articles as we want.
Learning can be a great experience and we get tempted to learn and not create.
On TED Talks, Eduardo Briceno talked about a simple way of getting better at the things you care about. He said:
The most successful people go through life alternating between two zones — the learning zone and the performance zone. The learning zone is where you improve your skills and expect to make mistakes while the performance zone is where you do the best you can and minimize mistakes. You maximize your immediate performance in the performance zone while you maximize your growth and future performance in the learning zone.
In the learning zone, you need deliberate practice — break down abilities into component skills, be clear about what sub-skill you want to improve. It is this type of practice in the learning zone which leads to significant improvement. The people who continue to spend time in the learning zone will continue to improve. The way to high performance is to alternate between the learning zone and the performance zone.
I always veer too far off into the learning zone. When I heard this speech, it resonated with me because, at the time, I was addicted to podcasts and articles. I kept reassuring myself I was learning and it would pay off eventually. Yes! I was learning but I had to ask myself one day if I was applying what I had learned.
The Learning Zone
The learning zone is where you seek to improve. It’s critical to create outstanding results. Like Eduardo Briceno said, you need to be deliberate about what you are learning.
I am guilty of having many websites open on my laptop. I move from one site to another without concentrating and being present. Recently, I learned about Instapaper through Ryan Holiday. Now, I save sites and pages I want to review later to Instapaper. I don’t spend time on information I don’t need right now.
To maximize the learning zone, you need to ask yourself these fundamental questions:
- What do I know now?
- What don’t I know?
- What do I need to know in 1 month from now?
- What do I need to know in 3 months from now?
- What do I need to know in 6 months from now?
For example, I am currently focused on getting better at writing. I take writing courses. I read books on writing and other types of books (a combination of fiction and non-fiction). I also learn by reading articles here on Medium and from the amazing team at The Writing Cooperative.
Sometimes, I stumble on courses to create and market products but I’m learning to not explore this right now. I am focused on getting better at writing.
Don’t get caught up with trying to learn everything at the same time.
Identify the skills you need to master right now and in the immediate future. Focus on learning everything you need to know to hone these skills effectively.
The Performance Zone
“The way to high performance is to constantly alternate between the learning zone and the performance zone”. — Eduardo Briceno
The performance zone is where you perform — do the best you can. You can’t stay stuck in the learning zone and expect to be successful. You need to apply what you have learned.
The performance zone helps you know what to focus on when you go back to the learning zone.
You can start maximizing the performance zone in four ways:
- Set clear goals for what you want to achieve.
- Practice anything you’ve learned within three days after you’ve learned it.
- Measure your performance and results using credible measures.
- Review your performance results and use this as a basis to know what you need to learn or relearn next.
I have seen people get fired because they focused only on the performance zone. They believed they knew it all and they didn’t try to learn or practice anything new.
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better”. — Elon Musk
You need to have a feedback loop with yourself where you continue to learn and relearn. You need to know exactly what you need to learn at every point in your life.
“The real illiterates in the 21st century are the people who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”. — Godman Akinlabi
If you stay stuck in the performance zone, you become illiterate.
Don’t stay stuck in learning or performing. Strive to achieve a balance between the two zones. If you do this, you will always create outstanding results.
If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it with your friends. I look forward to your comments. Which zone do you maximize the most – the learning zone or the performance zone?
Dedicated to your success,
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