Rapid learning and getting high: How it looks when you simplify Kolb’s Learning Styles

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Schools are sometimes criticized for too much theory, not enough application. The workplace sometimes gets you too busy to stop, reflect, and learn.

Then you read about people like Tim Ferriss, famous for his ‘intensive learning’ experiences where he breaks Tango records, wins kickboxing championships, and masters multiple languages.

And you meet people like Joel Neoh who wins National Rock Climbing Competitions, engineering competitions, the Malaysian equivalent of “The Apprentice”, and starts a million-ringgit startup… all before age 24!

So how does one become really good at something?

And how do you do it quickly?

Over the past 5 months since I left MindValley to build youth community platforms in this region, my learning and actions were forced to be more focused than it has ever been.

With this, something my friend Janne once shared with me, and Kolb’s learning styles come to mind. I have since re-interpreted what’s going on with my own diagram:

learning 

So how is this picture put to use?

Here’s an example of how I’ve witnessed some programmers get really awesome at what they do, viewed through the picture above:

The best programmers I know:

  • Read up on everything related to the language / problems they are trying to solve – all the time!
  • Experiment with solutions, and actively work with their project.
  • Twitter and blog about what they’ve learnt / solved.
  • Chat, share, comment, and discuss with other passionate programmers, or teach junior programmers.

And they can do all of the above, in multiple cycles, every day of the week. They fulfill all corners of the quadrant.

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Organizations do it too! MindValley, who are Gods at internet marketing, get good at it because its team

  • Sends it’s people out to learn from other internet marketing products and competitors
  • Has weekly sharing and discussion sessions on what they learn
  • Apply new techniques and tweaks to their existing businesses to see what works
  • Synthesize key learning in a discussion session, then on their blog

And they repeat this cycle every week! The energy, learning, and revenue growth was amazing.

The next time you aim to learn something, consider a holistic immersion as pictured above.

Is it as easy as it sounds?

If all I’m doing now is training to be a Jeet-Kun-Do world champion, I can go through a cycle of practicing, watching Bruce Lee videos, chatting with my sensei, beating him up, then blogging about it.

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But no, I’m not training to be a Jeet-Kun-Do world champion.

I’m focused on building a robust, profitable business which people love. This path involves a few moving pieces, requires even more focus, and perhaps the same sort of discipline of a Jeet-Kun-Do master.

It’s also true to say, that today’s careers may demand us to be pretty darn good at more than just one skill.

All the more reason we need to learn faster and smarter.

Here’s how a simplified view of Kolb’s Learning Styles do it for me.

  • I don’t go and learn/ read something unless I can put it to use (after all, there’s always more to learn from everywhere, but I don’t have that luxury right now)
  • Based on stuff I learn from others/ reading/ reflection, I put it to use, see what works, what doesn’t, make my own notes, develop new practices, and re-test on a situation
  • Joel and I have frequent discussions and ‘stop N think’ sessions to make sure our organization is on the right track
  • I have been sharing and learning with all members of my team, at least once a week

And believe me, going through all of it gets you HIGH.

gethigh 

I’m learning and doing a lot more than I used to, and the past 5 months seemed like a whole year.

On the other hand, I also have more to improve, and a long way to go. For example, I wish to blog more about all the stuff I learnt (today I’m taking a real break, and it feels good to whack out a blog post like this, you know, help me tie it up in my head, and to share with you too).

But there’s a whole lot more to execute on. I’ll let you know when all this hard work creates something to show for. Probably February. For now, all I have is this blog post ;p

How applicable is this picture to your life?

Once upon a time, I was all over the place.

I would be reading up on economics. Chatting about the music scene. Doing an internet marketing project. Then blogging about how to style thick hair.

I was doing many things, and sometimes I felt like my entire life was all over the place.

Was it “wrong”? Or “bad”? I loved it! I was very focused on EXPLORING as much as I could. Learning about everything, and testing out and trying everything.

If you’re still in that mode, and haven’t decided to have one singular focus yet, trying a lot of stuff out is a great idea. And the picture above can help you learn stuff faster.

Right now, I’m bent on focus – so I can truly accomplish something more.

If you feel the same, and you’re out to really pick up a new skill, or win a certain battle, then take a closer look at the redrawn and simplified Kolb’s Learning Styles. When you see the need for some focused, intensive learning, this is definitely one way of looking at it.

Read more about Kolb’s learning styles.

Blue picture by sonictk, Matrial arts photo by kaibara87

28 comments on “Rapid learning and getting high: How it looks when you simplify Kolb’s Learning Styles

  1. reader October 6, 2008 9:52 am

    a good read, thanks!

  2. Ashleigh October 7, 2008 10:00 am

    I’m still in the Exploring mode.
    I’ve checked out MindValley’s site, but I don’t really get what do they do. Internet marketing is a rather broad scope.

  3. Su Yuen October 8, 2008 1:01 pm

    I think one important thing to take note of here is once you’ve found your focus, you should still be willing to change easily. Many people go into the trap of thinking they’ve found their focus, try their best to stick to it before realizing that it is actually not what they are looking for at the end of the day. Some people go through a few different focus stages before finding what they would truly like, want and enjoy doing for the rest of their life. 😀

  4. Lavuz October 29, 2008 4:05 pm

    Interesting read Khailee, totally agree on wat u said and did and doing. Few people can cope on such positive mentality consistently in their life, what you and all of us should do. Just wondering what do u say to yourself when u face a tough challenges?.. how u drag yourself?.

  5. khailee October 29, 2008 4:42 pm

    lavuz, i guess for me, taking action is the best medicine.. when i slow down is when its time to speed up again ;p

  6. ikram October 31, 2008 6:20 pm

    wah, i havent visited this blog in a long while. I like the “how applicabe is this picture with your life”

    I FEEL i’m all over the place. Like a train ride not stopping and not knowing where the heck it’ll take a sharp bend or stop for me to get into another train.

    Fuh. A Plato moment.

    I guess I’ve been exploring webdesign a lot. I’m missing the “talk/blog/chat/share” about it yet. Learn, test, refine got. I guess when you’re freelancing, it gets a little ‘lonely’ for sharing. haha

    I guess I’m ready for a ‘focus’ but like you said, I’m trying to fight a few battles. But I’m only armed with a 1486 meriam. My foes are flying apaches, overpriced sukoi jets and submarines (political reference), and perhaps Rambo on the other side.

    Wish me luck.

    *boom!*, drat, reloading takes another 5 minutes…

  7. ikram November 4, 2008 4:44 pm

    so joel is good at what he does cause he keeps on doing it?

  8. ikram November 4, 2008 5:02 pm

    sorry banyak comment, so,
    i read kolb’s learning style, and VAK and all. I want to add that the conclusion to being good at something is to seriously look into the learning process.

    You have to embrace every aspect, dwell in it, let it consume you, then you’ll be good at it.

    FOr instance, you want to build a profitable business. You start from somewhere you like (like kolb and the other prof says, everyone has a preference) and maybe you like to do something hands on first. The feeling one.

    So you experiment, then of course you get the result (DISCUSSION with self or team – event was mediocre, bad, great)

    Then the next logic step is to actually take that and maybe come up with a standard operating process. You have sorta like a theory.

    Then test it on the next event.

    If you skip one, heck, you wont get better.

    Its back to basics and the whole article just explained it more thoroughly and made it more interesting to read rather than just say ‘GO AND LEARN LAH AND DONT BE LAZY’

  9. PC Guide November 18, 2008 11:23 pm

    i guess for me, taking action is the best medicine.. when i slow down is when its time to speed up again ;p You have to embrace every aspect, dwell in it, let it consume you, then you’ll be good at it.

  10. free stuff March 9, 2009 6:55 am

    I really got impressed with your diagram explanation, I just wanna agreed with your sayings,

    And some things i could not able to get you in the article honestly, But when i read the comments, i got it quite nicely, so i have to thank the pre-posters also. Thanks

  11. Apex Professionals April 14, 2009 7:54 am

    It feels good to whack out a blog post like this.. I think when you’re freelancing, it gets a little lonely for sharing.. The picture above can help us to learn stuff faster…

  12. warrior custom golf April 17, 2009 3:10 pm

    It’s very interesting and it may helps me a lot… This is the basis of the study of learning styles. By utilizing this knowledge, it is possible for people to work in ways that fit their type, which benefits their performance..

  13. Fairfield Inspection April 22, 2009 2:32 am

    Many people go into the trap of thinking they’ve found their focus, try their best to stick to it before realizing that it is actually not what they are looking for at the end of the day. Some people go through a few different focus stages before finding what they would truly like, want and enjoy doing for the rest of their life

  14. Wallpapers,widescreen wallpapers April 30, 2009 5:07 am

    Many people go into the trap of thinking they’ve found their focus, try their best to stick to it before realizing that it is actually not what they are looking for at the end of the day. Some people go through a few different focus stages before finding what they would truly like, want and enjoy doing for the rest of their life

  15. best hair loss products May 20, 2009 11:19 am

    i read kolb’s learning style, and VAK and all. I want to add that the conclusion to being good at something is to seriously look into the learning process.

    You have to embrace every aspect, dwell in it, let it consume you, then you’ll be good at it.

    FOr instance, you want to build a profitable business. You start from somewhere you like (like kolb and the other prof says, everyone has a preference) and maybe you like to do something hands on first. The feeling one.

  16. USA Credit Union May 26, 2009 6:47 am

    It’s very interesting and it may helps me a lot… This is the basis of the study of learning styles. By utilizing this knowledge, it is possible for people to work in ways that fit their type, which benefits their performance..

  17. Atlanta Travel City Guide May 26, 2009 12:37 pm

    Many people go into the trap of thinking they’ve found their focus, try their best to stick to it before realizing that it is actually not what they are looking for at the end of the day. Some people go through a few different focus stages before finding what they would truly like, want and enjoy doing for the rest of their life

  18. sparen May 28, 2009 9:54 pm

    I have to agree that taking action is also the best method for me. Because then I actually get the feeling there is progress, but if you slow down then it usually falls back. So quick action is a great way to start.

  19. Mexico Travel Guide June 19, 2009 3:13 pm

    Rapid learning and getting high is a valid one because learning is a great way to achieve success..Once we know the learning we are free to express our ideas…We can enjoy our future if we approach rapid learning…
    Cool information!!!!!

  20. furniture July 12, 2009 7:35 am

    Nice post!! Learning is the process of creating knowledge that is the result of the transaction between social knowledge and personal knowledge… Kolb’s model is more useful in that rather than trying to pinpoint a learning style, he provides a model learning program…

  21. Painted Pine Furniture July 14, 2009 6:25 am

    wow!!!!!!!its very interesting blog.Many people go into the trap of thinking they’ve found their focus, try their best to stick to it before realizing that it is actually not what they are looking for at the end of the day. and I guess I’m ready for a ‘focus’ but like you said, I’m trying to fight a few battles. But I’m only armed with a 1486 meriam. My foes are flying apaches, overpriced sukoi jets and submarines (political reference), and perhaps Rambo on the other side.

  22. Oak Wardrobe July 14, 2009 10:31 am

    Kolb’s model is particularly elegant, since it offers both a way to understand individual people’s different learning styles, and also an explanation of a cycle of experiential learning that applies to us all… Kolb include ‘cycle of learning’ as a central principle in his experiential learning theory, typically expressed as four-stage cycle of learning…

  23. Oak Bedsides July 14, 2009 3:29 pm

    Hey Nice post about once focus in their life.. Ya school is only theory knowledge I agree with you only the outside world we learning many things which we don’t experienced ever.. Kolb’s model I never heard about this model after read your blog I will definitely try this model to set focus on my life…

  24. Pine Bookcases July 17, 2009 11:53 am

    Nice post!!! Learners’ perceptual modes range from feeling to thinking, which Kolb interprets as concrete experience versus abstract conceptualization… Learning objectives which details a system for taking your learning beyond the memory recall level of reading, listening and watching presentations…

  25. Pine TV Unit July 18, 2009 3:07 am

    Thanks for sharing this idea to me while my thought about this article was learning are the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping experience and transforming it.”

  26. max team July 31, 2009 6:03 am

    Awesome post!!! Kolb published his learning styles model in the different way…. His fundamental concepts towards our understanding and explaining human learning behavior, and towards helping others to learn….

  27. Gangster Costumes February 17, 2010 6:12 am

    A jolly good read indeed! Look forward to much more over the future months amigo! Have a great week.

  28. Gary Rockhopper February 25, 2010 6:16 am

    Just letting you know your site wont let me comment on any of the earlier posts

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