The Most Important Life Skill They Don’t Teach You in School

The Most Important Life Skill They Don’t Teach You in School

The solution to most problems is a Google away. These days you can learn almost anything online. Pretty much any solution is a quick click away. You may even find a step-by-step guide on Youtube that details exactly how to solve your problem. Even the exams we take after we finish are open books.


Now think for a second. How many of your friends and family’s phone numbers do you know by heart? A couple? Probably less than ten. There’s no reason to memorize more than a few anymore.


We’ve been off-loading knowledge work to our phones. This also works with people. Couples who have been married together for a while will have difficulty remembering events that they went together in the past. The details of the events. Yet, if you ask about the event when they are both together. They will fill in each other’s memory blanks.


Our brains are lazy or efficient depending on how you look at it. They only store facts and memories that it thinks it’ll need in the future. It’ll archive or get rid of the rest.


So what do you do if you’ve forgotten something? Or never learned it in the first place?


Learning from Books

Learn to Google

Think when you want someone to search the internet for something, what do you tell them to do? Google it? Google is such a part of our culture that it encapsulates all internet searches.

I can’t tell you how often I’m able to find a solution to a problem I have at home or at work with a quick Google. Car showing a dashboard light? Google. Need to check the adverse effects of a medication? Google.

There is an art and skill to internet searches and it boils down to two factors:


1. Your initial search phrase

2. Picking the right result

The initial search phrase is made up of the words that you put into Google. If you were to put, car engine dash light you’ll get millions of results. While if you put: “Honda Accord 2012 yellow wheel dashboard button meaning”, you’ll have a much higher chance of getting the correct answer in the first few posts.

The more specific you are the better. I try to be as specific as I can and only be more generic if I don’t get many results. You also want to use words that are in the same domain as your problem. For example, if the icon on the dashboard in my car is a tire or wheel, I’d have much better results than if I typed in a yellow circle. Or a round thing.

Next, and as important is to pick the right result. Depending on what the problem is I’ll try to point it towards a certain direction. For simple things such as household or car issues, I’ll add the word forum. Or I’ll look for forum results. Forums are small communities usually of enthusiasts that help each other. I’d find the problem with my car on some type of Honda forum. Instead of looking for the forum directly, if I type my search into Google, It will look through many forums for me.

Now, instead, if I’m looking or a medical question then a forum won’t do. So I’ll add Google Scholar to the search phrase and be much more careful with the type of result that I pick. Often times, Google is even better than the search features on a website. So you’d be better off typing your search into google and adding the name of the website to your search phrase.

Of course, not everything is on Google. I won’t be able to find an exhaustive list of treatments for a rare disease for example. However, if I was able to just find a case report or two through Google. That’s enough. Then I’d be able to look at the references in that case report and be able to find more substantial research. I’ve saved countless hours using Google to start my medical research search than starting off with Pubmed.


Instead, had I gone to the library and tried to find the articles I needed, I could have been there all day and still not found what I needed. The power of Google and internet searches, in general, make learning how to use it by far one of the most important skills we have.


What Should You Learn Next?

What Should You Learn Next?

If you’re like me, you have a ton of different subjects that you’d love to learn. I have a 1400 page art history book that’s been sitting in my bookshelf for years. I’ll get to it one day.

So then how do decide what I should learn next? I have a couple of criteria that I look at:

  1. Is it interesting?
  2. Will it be applicable to more than one area of my life?
  3. Is it difficult to outsource?

I try to answer yes to all three questions before trying to learn it.

For the first part, is it interesting? There are countless subjects out there. I’ve realized that there’s no reason to force myself to learn something that doesn’t interest me. This is not to say that the subject isn’t interesting, just not to me.

If it doesn’t interest me, it’ll take way longer to learn. Learning is a lot of work. Why work so hard if it doesn’t interest me? I’ll not even keep much since I’ll have to force myself to get through it.

Next, will it be applicable to many areas of my life? I’m busy. I’m sure you’re busy as well. We love to multi-task, often to our determinant. I want to be able to apply whatever I learn in at least two aspects of my life, hopefully, all of them. For example, I could have learned how to create this website. It would have taken a few weeks. I could have even done it for free. YouTube is a treasure trove of educational videos.

But when would I need it again? A few more times in my life, if that. Instead, I picked up a book on writing. I know. You’re having flashbacks from high school English class. But, better writing would flow through everything I do. Even if this blog failed, if I became a better writer through it, I would consider it a success.

Finally, is it difficult to outsource? Prepare yourself, this is a little morbid. We only have a specific amount of time in this world. I’ve already gotten to the point in my life that I’ll read less than 1000 books. Less than 500? Who knows, even less? If the subject doesn’t interest me and it wouldn’t be applicable to many areas of my life, it’s much better to outsource.

The creation of this website was outsourced. Even better, I was able to find someone that was willing to teach me some of the basics. This way I could do a majority of the work on it myself after it was made. This saved me at least a couple weeks of time learning how to make a website and run it from the ground up. I was also able to hire him on an ongoing basis in case I break something.

There are other topics that I would say yes to the first two questions, but no to the last that I outsource. Well, with some sadness. There is too much to learn that I have to make sure that it meets all my criteria.

How to Learn Practically Anything Part 3

How to Learn Practically Anything Part 3

This is the last post in my three-part series on how to learn a new subject. You’ve already learned the basics with some structured learning. You’ve even started doing. You’re awesome! Now, how do you know what you are doing is correct? You need feedback.
Back in our classroom days, the feedback was tests or school projects. Yeah, I know. Tests suck. But it was the best they had. In residency, we had someone above us looking over our shoulders to make sure we didn’t hurt anyone.
The problem is where to find someone like that. It kind of depends on what you want to learn. Here some basic tips and some examples. Say I’m trying to learn a language. I can study and practice all I want, but I could be saying everything the wrong way and have no idea. I would need to find someone that knows the language. A tutor. Unfortunately, most that I know are pretty expensive. They also aren’t available in the middle of the night, my preferred time to learn.

The internet has made this process much easier. Through a website called, I was able to find a language tutor in Spain that worked well with my schedule. He was a college student that was a native Spanish speaker, so it was a lot cheaper than I’d have to pay a formal tutor.

Well, what about other subjects? This may seem a bit odd, but another great source of feedback is through Facebook. Specifically, Facebook groups. For example, say you are learning a new program or application. There is almost always to be a relevant Facebook group. When we were creating our online course, the Kajabi Facebook group was pretty helpful. What if you wanted to learn the basics of finance? Well, there are a ton of Facebook groups to help you. There’s even one’s for specific careers such as finance groups for engineers, lawyers, or doctors. There’s even a Facebook group for people trying to learn Spanish.
There are a couple of benefits from joining a Facebook group to help you learn:
  1. You learn by reading what other people are talking about (passive learning)
  2. You’ll start to recognize some of the words and topics you learned in your structured learning. And it’ll transfer to long term memory (spaced repetition)
  3. You can start to ask questions such as I was thinking of investing here or why do you use this word instead of this? (active learning)
  4. I’ve found people are pretty helpful on Facebook and will often go out of there way to help you (social learning)
This discussion with the members in the group will help you solidify what you learned in structured training. As scary as it can be, once you start posting and getting feedback, you’ll speed up your learning. At some point, you’ll even be able to help others and take your learning to the next level.
Now you’re ready to learn anything. Let me know how it goes. What subject did you decide to learn?