The Kaizen Newsletter #10 (07/30/2019)

You can learn anything you want

Have you ever had that feeling? That feeling where for months and months you really don't understand what's going on and FINALLY there's like a switch that just turns on and everything you've been doing makes sense suddenly. Everything gets linked together and you feel like the smartest person in the room.

You're like "OMG how come I never understood this until now. It's super simple". Probably one of the best feelings to have IMO.

And this is exactly what happened this past week for me. It finally clicked.

As many of you know, I've been doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for around a month and a half now and only on Friday that things started to make sense. After around 12 classes, I can now piece combos together.

So just for fun, I thought about how I arrived to this point and see if I can break-it down and try it replicate for anything else I would want to learn.

So here is how you can learn anything: 1) Try to Take Action 2) Learn the MVBs 3) Repeat 4) Combine Everything Together 5) Continue Learning

Try to Take Action

What? Take action? Yup. Throw yourself into the wolves right away. Yes, it might be very very scary, but trust me on this.

What action to take? Well ideally, you would have a goal in mind for what you want to learn. Then take that goal and make break it down into smaller chunks until you just can't break it down anymore.

As an example, if you want to learn BJJ, then you would start with learning a take-down, or what is the guard position, or what is side-control.

If you want to learn coding, then you would want to start with just displaying a message. The typical example is learning how to display "Hello World" on the screen.

So now that you know what your goal is, you can start! Oh, you don't know what to do? This is where the next section comes into play.

Learn the MVBs

MVB. Minimal Viable Basics. Did I just invent this term? Yup.

So in the first step, you're either stuck right away and you can't do anything, or you started doing a bunch of things but you had NO IDEA what was going on. And it's very normal to have that feeling at this stage.

This is where learning the minimal viable basics come in. At this stage, you don't necessarily need to understand why you're doing things, you just want to be able to take action as soon as possible. So this is where you reverse-engineer the action that you found above and only learn what is required for you to accomplish that small task.

Go on google, youtube, or wherever and learn only what you NEED to accomplish that task. If it's just side-control for BJJ, then only learn that position. If you want to display "Hello World", then don't even think about checking what a "For Loop" is.

Once you learn what is required, go ahead and complete the task!

Repeat

So now you've accomplished one task, woohoo! But you only know a very small portion of what you want to learn.

Now you should repeat steps 1) and 2) until you've broken down your project or goal into all the tiny pieces possible and learned all of them individually.

This section is the longest and the hardest, since it really depends on how complicated what you want to learn is.

Going with the BJJ example, this is where you learn all of the most important positions such as guard, take-down, side-control and a submission.

Just make sure that for every portion that you're able to break down, that you make sure you practice it so that it stays in your head.

Combine Everything Together

This step is where the lightbulb should switch on for most of you!

Once you've went through all of the small tasks, it's time to combine everything you've learned together.

If you're learning how to code, then this would be a good time to maybe construct a website from scratch and compile everything you've learned together. In BJJ, you should be able to start from a standing position and able to submit someone (if for example that person doesn't actually move).

Continue Learning

This part is because you can never stop learning. This is where you either practice what you've learned and try to improve on each individual skill that you broke down or where you learn new things, but the most important part is to continue working on that particular skill. You want to find habits or ways to remain consistent so that you can progress more!

Find a Mentor

One thing I didn't mention is that in any of these steps, I would highly recommend finding a mentor of some sort. It's the best way to learn a new skill, since you can receive direct feedback and best practices from this person. So I would definitely put a big emphasis on this portion as well.

So these are the steps I would use if I wanted to learn anything. It’s a bit unconventional, but I feel the best way to learn is really to put yourself into uncomfortable situations and then figuring out how to make these situations less uncomfortable as time goes until you are completely comfortable!

Now, on to the newsletter.


Weekly Articles

🏀 Sports

  • Just Some Kids from Northeast Ohio - It's crazy to think that not only is he one of the best NBA players to have ever played the game, he's also an amazing human being overall. The "I Promise School", a public school LeBron James opened in his hometown of Akron, Ohio is a reflect of that as well. The way that this article describes it honestly seems like THE most amazing elementary school you can go to, and it's really awesome that he was able to give back to the community he was raised in. Most of the article goes into detail on how different it is on a human level and how the school sees all the students more as family than anything else. Really interested to see the progress of these kids and see how they compete versus other students of their age in various subjects. This might be the future of education.

✍️ Writing

Ok for some reason I just stumbled into a bunch of writing articles this week. If you are into writing or would want to write better, then these are a MUST-read. They are all fairly long, but 100% worth it.

  • How to be a Better Writer - Out of the three articles, this one is the most summarized I would say. It gives lot's of good tips to improve as a writer such as capturing your ideas, creating thoughtful headlines, tricks to avoid procrastination, and how to edit your work. My favourite trick from this article:

When writing, never try to edit as you go - Gareth Branwyn

  • How to Cure Writer's Block - This article goes more in-depth in how to avoid writer's block and introduces three different strategies he uses to beat it: gather supplies, talk it out, and start with abundance.

  • Writing Well - Julian is becoming one of my favourite internet articles. I shared his article on What to Work On last week, and this week I'm sharing his guide on writing. It's honestly THE BEST article on how to write an essay I've ever read. He guides you through his whole writing process and provides you with really good insight on why you should do things a certain way. My plan is to release an article by the end of August (keeping myself accountable here) and will be following this guide.

👨‍💻 Technology

Weekly Favourites

📺 Video

  • Discovered this youtube channel through a twitch stream. It's SOOO appealing. Think of it as a visual ASMR. The production for these videos are also INSANELY good.

🎧 Music

Songs

Albums

🐦 Tweets

🙏 Shoutouts

  • Shoutout to my BJJ gym, Mizu Studio. I stayed a bit after class on Friday and after seeing me getting destroyed in the sparring session, some of the more experienced students taught me how to guard better.


👋 End Note

If you want to know what I'm up to now, you can check it on my website here.

If you enjoyed the Kaizen Newsletter, then it'd be cool if you can share it with your friends. They can sign up here.

Feedback is always appreciated, so let me know what you liked and what I can improve on by replying to this email.

If you see any cool articles, links, tweets, stories or podcasts that you think are interesting, feel free to share as well at alex@alexhughsam.com

See you next Tuesday!

PEACE ✌🏻

Alexander