Read another excellent article on Brain Pickings, the blog curated and written by Maria Popova, on the best way to learn. In essence how you practice is far more important than the amount of practice you do.

Popova reviews Joshua Foer’s book, Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, to explain how we learn and the three techniques that experts use to keep learning and improving. Foer says;

We start in the “cognitive phase,” during which we’re intellectualising the task, discovering new strategies to perform better, and making lots of mistakes. We’re consciously focusing on what we’re doing. Then we enter the “associative stage,” when we’re making fewer errors, and gradually getting better. Finally, we arrive at the “autonomous stage,” when we turn on autopilot and move the skill to the back of our proverbial mental filing cabinet and stop paying it conscious attention.

Autonomous is not good. We stop progressing. We plateau. So you need a conscious methodology to keep improving. Foer explains;

What separates experts from the rest of us is that they tend to engage in a very directed, highly focused routine, which Ericsson has labeled “deliberate practice.” Having studied the best of the best in many different fields, he has found that top achievers tend to follow the same general pattern of development. They develop strategies for consciously keeping out of the autonomous stage while they practice by doing three things: focusing on their technique, staying goal-oriented, and getting constant immediate feedback on their performance. In other words, they force themselves to stay in the “cognitive stage.”

Interesting to apply those three techniques to how we learn in a work situation and how we develop our teams.