Throughout history, there have been individuals who have cracked the code to learning, making breakthroughs by understanding and acting on things that were previously unknown. These people have been permanently curious, invested in themselves, transcended traditional education, taught themselves, considered alternative viewpoints, got obsessed, learned for the sake of learning, attached enjoyment to new knowledge, committed to learning for life, and worked tirelessly at building new knowledge. In this article, we delve deeper into how these individuals achieved their goals and what we can learn from them in order to advance our own lives.
1. They are Permanently Curious: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson, the famous astrophysicist, believes that curiosity is the key to making breakthroughs. In science, curiosity is what leads to discoveries. In everyday life, curiosity is a key ingredient to inspire learning. deGrasse Tyson was curious about astronomy from a young age and now shares his enthusiasm on one of the most interesting Twitter feeds around. To be permanently curious in our own lives, we can seek answers to our questions and be open to learning new things.
2. They Invest in Themselves: Ben Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was one of the most prolific polymaths of his era, constantly feeding his appetite for new knowledge through voracious reading in a wide array of different areas. His passion for learning led to innovation and breakthroughs in printing, politics, science, engineering, activism, and founding of the United States. To invest in ourselves, we can keep adding to our knowledge bank every day.
3. They Transcend Traditional Education: Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was famous for being a poor student. Even after his schooling, he took a menial job at the Swiss Patent Office because no one would consider him for a teaching position at a university. What he showed, more than anything else, is that brilliant discoveries transcend the bounds of what we typically consider “learning” and “education.” To transcend traditional education, we can look beyond textbooks and classrooms, to nature, documentaries and biographies.
4. They Teach Themselves: Elon Musk
Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Zip2, Paypal, Tesla, and Space X, consistently teaches himself what he needs to know to build things. Musk started teaching himself computer programming when he was 12, building a computer game called “Blastar,” which he sold for $500. He started both Tesla and Space X with virtually no previous experience in automotive or aerospace engineering. To teach ourselves, we can identify our desired goals, determine what skills and knowledge we need to achieve them, and then educate ourselves.
5. They Consider Alternative Viewpoints: Aristotle
Aristotle believed that strongly-held beliefs are the enemy of productive discourse and progress. According to him, the answer to most problems lies in the synthesis of two opposing thoughts. An educated mind can entertain a thought without accepting it. To consider alternative viewpoints, we can research the opposing viewpoint we disagree with, and then objectively make our decisions on what’s correct.
6. They Get Obsessed: Bill Gates
Bill Gates got obsessed with programming when he went to high school. He studied the source code for programs like Fortran, Lisp, and machine language, and was soon hired by Information Sciences, Inc. to write a payroll program. He was commissioned by his school to write a computer program to schedule students in classes. Gates’ obsession with programming ultimately led to the creation of an industry. To get obsessed, we can identify our passions, focus our attention on them, and keep taking it deeper and deeper.
7. They Learn for the Sake of Learning: Stephen Hawking
Famed physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking contends that truly meaningful discovery in science comes not out of a specific objective but due to genuine enjoyment for discovering something novel. To learn for the sake of learning, we can pursue learning something simply because we enjoy it, not necessarily because we want a credential or certification.
8. They Attach Enjoyment and Wonder to New Knowledge: Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan was a staunch advocate of the advancement of the exploration of space. It’s inspiring to listen to him speak about the wonders of the universe, and his drive to discover came from a sense of wonder about the beauty and magnificence of nature. To attach enjoyment and wonder to new knowledge, we can find something that inspires us to learn and then gain deeper knowledge of it.
9. They Commit to Learning for Life: Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi was the utmost example of living in consistency with his beliefs. Part of that was an unyielding commitment to considering different alternatives, and remaining open-minded. Continuous, lifelong learning is a practice worth adhering to. To commit to learning for life, we can keep an open mind, consider all alternatives, and participate in continuous learning.
10. They Work Tirelessly at Building New Knowledge: Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison was famous for his devotion to hard work. He applied the principles of hard work to everything he did, including inventing. Edison’s hard work led to a laundry list of inventions and an entire power distribution industry. To work tirelessly at building new knowledge, we can be persistent and apply effort day-by-day, focused on our goals.
The individuals mentioned above have all broken through the barriers of traditional education and reached great heights due to their passion for learning, observation, and application of knowledge. To take a leaf out of their book, in order to achieve our own goals, we can remain curious, invest in ourselves, teach ourselves, consider alternative viewpoints, get obsessed, learn for the sake of learning, attach enjoyment and wonder to new knowledge, commit to learning for life, and work tirelessly at building new knowledge.