Learn By Doing
May 27, 2022
This afternoon I was in a conversation with a colleague about what is the best way to learn. This conversation was in the context of the technology domain both of us were in, where there is so much change and transformation happening all the time.
I have observed that most people prefer to spend their time, energy, and resources learning the theory by reading books, listening to podcasts, or taking online courses. This is because they think the knowledge of theory will somehow make them better at the work they actually have to do.
There is a simpler and better way to learn efficiently- Learning by DOING.
- If you want to be good at speaking Spanish, don’t waste time reading books and listening to podcasts. Start speaking Spanish. Learn basic sentences and use them in conversations with your friends and family even if they don’t understand a word of what you say.
- You want to be good at coding; instead of getting stuck doing online courses all the time, take up real problems and start coding.
- If you want to be good at presenting, writing, cooking, or anything else that is a skill, no amount of reading books and watching “How To…” videos will help. Whatever you seek to learn, start by doing first- presenting or writing or cooking.
When I moved from banking to fintech pretty late in my career (according to conventional standards), I followed the same strategy. After learning the basic concepts of Tech, I would share my thoughts and ideas about the subject with all my friends and family. I would practice my pitching with anyone who cared to listen and I learned fast.
There are some significant advantages to this approach.
- Feedback is instantaneous. You will know if you are doing it well or not. You will figure out gaps in your understanding and see what you have to do to plug your knowledge gaps.
- Doing is practice. The more you practice, the better you become at what you do.
- Doing clarifies. The process of doing helps you gain a deeper understanding of nuances that theory can never bring out.
- Doing eliminates fear. When you spend too much time seeking theory, you get stuck in the knowledge paradox. The more you learn about any subject, the more you realize how little you know, which induces a fear of going wrong. You don’t let fear hold you back when you start by doing.
Confucius said it best about the power of doing.
I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand.