Brain Coach Jim Kwik on How to Learn Any Skill or Subject Quickly

If your brain is your biggest asset, what’s the easiest way to build that wealth? You need to learn smarter, faster and more efficient with a simple technique, using the word F.A.S.T.

That’s according to Jim Kwik, the CEO of Kwik Learning, who has spent more than 25 years studying the brain and coaching employees at businesses like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin about how they can improve memory, spead-read, and unlock their brain’s potential. He’s also the author of Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life (Hay House, 2020).

In the latest Inc. Real Talk streaming event, Kwik explained that the stress of the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting how quickly people are able to pick up that new quarantine hobby or skill–whether it’s learning Mandarin, a new sales software, or how to salsa. 

“Our cognitive abilities are limited when our mind feels overwhelmed,” he said. “When there’s so much to process–work, family health, the world life in general–the connection between the overstressed brain and the rest of our body can have a serious impact on your positivity, your performance, your peace of mind–and also on your prosperity.”

To help, Kwik shared four keys to learning any subject, under the acronym F.A.S.T. 

Forget

While it seems counterintiutive that in order to learn something, you must forget everything you know about that subject, Kwik explains to think of your brain like a parachute; it only works when it’s open.

Kwik then gave the example of someone with 20 years of experience in sales–one might think they have a lot of knoweldge, but it’s possible that this person was repeating one year of misguided information year after year. And that information gets outdated very quickly.

Instead, forget what you know and approach the subject with a curious mindset. Kwik says to ask lots of questions, including, “Where’s the lesson in this?” “How can I use this?” “How can I apply this?” “Why must I use this?” and, “When will I use this?”

Active

Staying active in your learning–taking notes, applying concepts, asking questions–is the best way to learn, Kwik said. The human brain does not learn through consumption rather it learns through creation.

So instead of passively copying a TED Talk down word for word in a notebook, or putting a lesson on in the background while you’re doing dishes, stay focused and be active in processing the information. Write down questions that you might have, how the new information relates to what you already know, and capture how you’re going to apply it.

State

When learning, the state of the emotions you’re experiencing will help you lock the information or skill into your long-term memory. Put another way, the information tied to emotion becomes unforgettable, Kwik said.

If you’re bored, you’re likely to forget. But Kwik said if you put on a smile, fix your posture, and force yourself into a positive attitude through self-talk, the learning will become easier.

“Gratitude will override so many negative emotions, and it’ll rewire your brain,” he said.

Teach

Finally, Kwik says you should listen and learn as if you’re expecting to teach someone the same material later on. With the intention of teaching, you get to learn something twice. Kwik says this mindset helps frame your learning, and you’re likely to ask a lot more clarifying questions as a result.

When you know something well enough to teach it, that’s when you know you’ve gained that new skill or information successfully, and you’re just one step closer to optimizing your ultimate wealth asset–your own brain.

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