We don’t all have photographic memories and the ability to remember everything we learn, but there is a way to better recall what we learn.
Though I struggle with the discipline of reading, over recent years I’ve grown to see its value and developed it into an enjoyable habit.
With help from apps like Audible I’m able to read more books than ever before. I listen while doing housework or DIY, traveling, but mostly while in the gym exercising.
The books I enjoy reading most are on leadership, entrepreneurship and personal development. I’m inspired by the lives of others, the challenges they’ve overcome, and the valuable lessons they’ve learned.
Just as interesting to me are approaches to building and developing teams, systems and processes, and the implementation of ideas. It might sound weird, but I find it all fascinating.
But I sometimes feel frustrated by an inability to retain what I’m learning and find myself asking questions like:
- Where am I applying what I’m learning?
- Where is there evidence of what I’m learning?
- What can I do to best retain what I’m learning?
So as someone who values personal development, it was as a bit of a light-bulb moment when I came across a helpful concept called the Learning Pyramid.
The Learning Pyramid
The development of the Learning Pyramid in the 1960’s — widely attributed to the NTL Institute — outlines how we learn.
A summary of their findings was that learners retain approximately:
- 5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture
- 10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading
- 20% of what they learn from audio-visual
- 30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
- 50% of what they learn when engaged in group discussion
- 75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned
- 90% of what they learn when they teach someone else/use immediately
Practice, teach and implement
These findings got me thinking. In order to retain what I learn I need to teach others or use what I learn immediately — I need to practice, teach and implement.
For many, including myself, this is the scary part, as it goes beyond head knowledge to action. And we all know that with action will inevitably come mistakes, and with mistakes, exposure — eeek!
But the reality is that without practise and implementation we won’t make mistakes. And without mistakes we can’t retain what we learn.
Mistakes help us to learn
When faced with mistakes we become more focused, seek to problem solve, and attempt to make corrections. This is the process that helps to consolidate our learning.
Mistakes are good because they cause us to think about the actions that led to them in order to change them for the next time we face a similar situation or problem.
Truth is, if we don’t teach or implement what we learn, we can’t make mistakes, and if we don’t make mistakes, we retain less of what we learn.
I’m going to give thought to how I can more intentionally practice, teach, and implement what I learn. Maybe I’ve already started by writing this blog post, eh!
What about you, how good are you at retaining what you learn? Add your comments below.
Follow me on Twitter.