I first heard of the idea of being a learning machine from my time at Phoenix in reference to legendary billionaire investor Charlie Munger.
Simply put, a learning machine never stops learning and is committed to growth.
It’s easy to say and I bet everyone would say that they’re learning machines, but how true is this really.
The sad reality is most people don’t like to learn and aren’t committed to lifelong learning.
Most people don’t even learn at school. They’re taught facts to recite but they’re not learning.
It carries on through univrsity and once they’re in a career, the learning has stopped.
At 30 years old, most men have become average and their lives have stagnated.
Why it’s important and why you should care
The day you stop learning is the day you start moving backwards.
I want to be wiser today than I was yesterday. Even just a little bit. Overtime, these small increments build up and build up.
Imagine the power of compounding applied to small incremental improvements in learning.
Over a year. Over a decade. Over a lifetime.
Because otherwise, you stay average.
Why would you want to stay average?
Average means being doomed to repeat mistakes.
Never becoming wealthy.
Never reaching your goals.
Never improving your relationships.
Never taking charge of your own destiny.
Never taking responsibility for your life.
Don’t settle for average.
Commit to becoming a learning machine.
Steps to becoming a learning machine
Say it out loud:
I don’t know everything.
I don’t know very much at all.
To think that I know everything I need to know is arrogant and absurd.
I can always know more.
I can always be learning more.
Aim to know more about lots of diverse topics
Literature, finance, self-improvement, cooking, sport, health, travel, writing, marketing, art, fashion, love, cosmology, politics, economics, psychology, mythology, history, philosophy, religion, poetry. The list is endless.
Think of different and novel ways to put these topics together
Munger aims for a latticework of different mental models. How different knowledge bases can intertwine and interact, to form new knowledge.
Seek out fellow learning machines
This is hard to do. Learning machines are not common creatures. I’m lucky enough to know a few, however, even then, it’s rare still to find one who shares your interests and learning angle.
There is one surefire shortcut. Follow successful people. Successful people tend to be learning machines. Read their biographies and learn from the best.
Check out great blogs. You’ll learn more from the following non-exhaustive list than most formal educations.
Tim’s blog is a wealth of information. He has a blog that has received millions of views. His podcast has had at the time of writing more than 60m downloads. He is insatiably curious and this will surely rub off on you.
Altucher writes like a dream. And he writes a lot. Everywhere. Check out his blog here.
This is a YouTube channel like no other. He’s done a library’s worth of awesome animated book reviews.
Check it out here.
Join Quora and Medium
Quora is an amazing resource. People ask questions and people answer those questions. More often than not, experts in those fields will answer those questions. Subjects range from technology, coding, marketing, fashion, academia…everything.
Medium was founded by one of the founders of Twitter. He wanted to create a longer form content publishing platform. Some people use it as their blog. Articles cover a wide range of topics and the best get upvoted and pushed to the top of the discoverability rankings.
I have an account and specify the topics I’m interested in and I get a nice email of Medium Digest where articles I may want to read are highlighted.
My Medium account is medium.com/@edmondchan1000
Always carry a book
Books have never been cheaper. Pile into Amazon and get yourself a paperback.
A good friend of mine always gets his books secondhand so that they have more character but that’s totally up to you.
Get a Kindle
Ebooks are here to stay and have the obvious advantage of having a whole library in your pocket. It’s smaller and lighter than a normal paperback.
I’ve had loads of Kindles in my time but now I read using the Kindle app on my iPad and iPhone 6.
Kindles are improving all the time now as well. Check the latest models out here.
Carry a notebook
I’ve got a friend in Rome who always carries a small Moleskine to jot down thoughts he has, quotes he likes from the book he’s reading at the time.
Moleskines are quite pricey. Imitations are often just as good.