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“Can you recommend a book for…?”
“What are you reading right now?”
“What are your favorite books?”
I get asked those types of questions a lot and, as an avid reader and all-around bibliophile, I’m always happy to oblige.
I also like to encourage people to read as much as possible because knowledge benefits you much like compound interest. The more you learn, the more you know; the more you know, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more opportunities you have to succeed.
On the flip side, I also believe there’s little hope for people who aren’t perpetual learners. Life is overwhelmingly complex and chaotic, and it slowly suffocates and devours the lazy and ignorant.
So, if you’re a bookworm on the lookout for good reads, or if you’d like to get into the habit of reading, this book club for you.
The idea here is simple: Every month, I’ll share a book that I’ve particularly liked, why I liked it, and several of my key takeaways from it.
I’ll also keep things short and sweet so you can quickly decide whether the book is likely to be up your alley or not.
Alright, let’s get to the takeaways.
Mentioned on the show:
Books by Mike Matthews: https://legionathletics.com/products/books/
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And I’m often asked about books. People ask me for book recommendations on various topics. They ask me what book I am currently reading and what books I have recently read, and what my favorite books are and so forth. And as an avid reader, I am always happy to oblige and get some book recommendations in return as well.
I also just like to encourage people to read as much as possible because I think that knowledge benefits you much like compound interest benefits your bank account in that the more you learn, the more you know, and the more you know the more you can do and the more you can do, the more opportunities you have to succeed.
And on the flip side, I also believe that there is little hope for people who aren’t perpetual learner. I know that might sound a little bit pessimistic or cynical to you, but let’s face it, life is overwhelmingly complex and chaotic, and if we look around, we can find plenty of evidence that it simply suffocates and devours the lazy and ignorant.
So if you are a bookworm and you’re on the lookout, For Good reads, or if you’d like to just get into the habit of reading more, then this book Club is for you. The idea is very simple. Every week I’m going to share a book that I’ve particularly liked and I’m gonna tell you why I liked it and give you several of my key takeaways from it.
I’m also gonna keep these episodes short and sweet so you can quickly decide whether or not a book is likely to be up your alley or not. Okay, so let’s get to this episode’s featured book, which is Ultra Learning by Scott. And I’ve always been a pretty good student and a pretty good learner, and I have already studied quite a bit about how to learn more effectively.
So I was pretty familiar with a lot, but really most of what was taught in this book, but. I did appreciate the effort and I did definitely pick up some new tips and tools for developing understanding and competence faster. And I think the book does a good job delivering on its promises, delivering on its marketing copy, given the restraints of a standard sized book.
So this is, a 300 ish page book, so it’s probably 70. At most 90,000 words, and you can only do so much with that word count, and especially when you’re writing about something as expansive as learning how to learn. I’m sure Scott, the author, struggled to decide what should make it in the final manuscript and what should be cut.
I would guess that if it were up to him, he probably would’ve written a book twice as long as ultra learning, but was told. By his editor because that 70 to 90,000 word manuscript is what most publishing houses want for how-to stuff. Of course, they will publish longer how-to books, but there’s a reason why, Oh, I don’t know, probably 80% of non-fiction how-to books are in that sweet spot of 270 to 300 pages at least as a hard cover sometimes.
Release the paperbacks. They’re a little bit smaller, so those can reach higher page counts, but the hard covers always come out first, assuming they’re doing a hard cover. And those books are very often in that range of 272 300 pages. Anyway. If Robert Green happens to be listening to this podcast, if you want to write one of your tones, one of your, 4, 5, 600 page books on the art and science of learning sign me up to be a beta reader.
I will gladly go through it and give you all of the feedback I can. But anyway, getting back on topic here to ultra learning. If you are like me, if you’ve always been a pretty good student and you. Read books or maybe taken online courses or listen to lectures or whatever on how to learn, then I would say this book does have some bennies to offer you, but don’t set your expectations too high.
That said, if you are new, To learning how to learn. If this would be your first book on how to learn, then I think you’re gonna find it very helpful. Another caveat though is this book does contain quite a few moving parts, and it is not a book that is meant to just be read. It doesn’t have much in the way of entertaining stories or other filler.
It could. Benefit from some extra examples of some real world examples. Ideally, it would’ve been from case studies with other ultra learners applying what you’re learning about in the book. But what you’ll probably find is this is a book that you’re gonna read and then you’re gonna have to apply it, and you’re gonna have to come back to it regularly as you wind your way through your learning projects.
And you might actually find the book most enjoy. If you have a learning project to apply it to from the beginning. Otherwise, you might start to feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the instructions and options and troubleshooting tactics as you move through the book. And you’re trying to remember the ins and outs of everything, and you’re trying to envision these.
Sequences in your mind. Think reading board game instructions without much in the way of pictures or other forms of tangible demonstration, it can get difficult. Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my health and fitness books, including the number one best selling weightlifting books for men and women in the world.
Bigger, leaner, stronger. Thinner, leaner, stronger, as well as the leading flexible dieting cookbook, the Shredded Chef. Now, these books have sold well over 1 million copies and have helped thousands of people build their best body ever, and you can find them on all major online retailers like Audible, Amazon, iTunes, Cobo, and Google Play, as well as in select Barnes and Noble stores.
And I should also mention that you can get any of the audio books 100. Free when you sign up for an Audible account. And this is a great way to make those pockets of downtime, like commuting, meal prepping, and cleaning more interesting, entertaining, and productive. And so if you want to take Audible up on this offer, and if you want to get one of my audiobooks for free, just go to www.buy Legion, that’s b u y legion.com/audible and sign up for your account.
So again, if you appreciate my work and if you wanna see more of it, and if you wanna. Time proven and evidence-based strategies for losing fat, building muscle, and getting healthy, and strategies that work for anyone and everyone, regardless of age or circumstances, please do consider picking up one of my best selling books, Bigger, Leaner, Stronger for Men, Thinner, Leaner, Stronger for Women, and the Shredded Chef for my favorite fitness friendly recipes.
Anyway, that’s enough preamble. Let’s get to my top five key takeaways from. Okay, here is the first key takeaway quote. The easiest way to learn directly is to simply spend a lot of time doing the thing you want to become good at. And my note here is people often ask me for tips on how to be a better writer and a better marketer.
And I do have several tips to share, but the first one is always this. You have to do a lot. You have to write a lot. You have to market a lot. And practically what this means is not thinking about it, not even learning about it, but doing it consistently, like every single day for long periods. And so I also tell these people, if that turns you off, if you can’t commit to sitting.
Every day and writing or marketing for let’s say at least 30 minutes at least, but ideally an hour or two or more every single day. Don’t expect to get very far full stop. And that applies to any activity really. We humans, we do not learn very well. In the abstract, we must be exposed to many concrete examples, and we must experience many things firsthand.
And that means that we have to interact with the contexts we want to operate in. And the more specific we are in this regard, the better we wanna learn and practice skills as closely to the way we want to actually use them as. When we’re learning, then we need to make sure that we’re spending a fair amount of time just doing the thing that we want to get better at.
Even if that requires creating an artificial, like a simulator project or environment to practice and work in, we can’t just stick with the theoretical and the abstract because what can happen is if we do that, we can take a lot of notes and we can memorize a lot of stuff, but in the end, we may not be able to produce any.
And we want the opposite. We wanna learn how to produce results, not just memorize things. And sometimes producing results does require memorizing things, and that’s fine. The book talks about that and gives some helpful ways to improve memory. But first and foremost, If we’re learning something, it’s probably because we have a very specific outcome that we want to be able to achieve.
And by ensuring that our learning process has us regularly doing the thing, striving toward that outcome, we’re always gonna have accurate feedback as to how we. Doing. All right, let’s move on to the second key takeaway quote. Ultra learners acquire skills quickly because they seek aggressive feedback when others opt for practice.
That includes weaker forms of feedback or no feedback at all. So my note here is, without honest feedback about our performance and progress, it is impossible to know what we’re learning. What we’re not and if we’re even learning the right things again, are we getting closer to our desired outcomes or not?
And feedback is crucial for this. It is a very important aspect of learning anything and generally, the faster you can get high quality feedback and the more. Open you are to it. The more willing you are to receive feedback, especially if it is critical and it can be critical in a constructive way. But if you’re the type of person who gets very defensive, for example, you might have trouble processing feedback and you might have trouble using it to get better, but the better you can do that, the better you’ll advance in whatever it is that you’re trying to learn.
And similarly, if you avoid feedback, maybe not out. Egotism, maybe just out of fear because nobody likes to fail, nobody likes to be told they’re doing things wrong. Then it can get very hard to improve, and eventually you will just stagnate in whatever you’re trying to learn. Now, in the book, Young talks about three types of useful feedback.
The first is outcome feedback, and this is feedback in the form of outcomes that tell you how well you’re doing overall, but. What you’re doing better or worse, Not specifically what you’re doing right or wrong. So let’s say you’re learning tennis and you know that you can successfully deliver six out of 10 serves on average because you’re tracking that, which is something that you would want to track, something that you can quantify that gives you some good outcome feedback, but you don’t know how to improve it.
You don’t know. What you’re doing well, what you’re not doing well, that would require a different kind of feedback. Which brings me to the second type of feedback that young talks about, which is informational feedback. Now this is feedback in the form of information about what you’re doing right and wrong, but it doesn’t tell you how to fix it.
So if we continue with that tennis example, let’s say you’re videoing yourself. While practicing your serves, which would be a good idea for even better feedback, informational feedback. And you notice a flaw in your form because you’re comparing your serve to a model serve, let’s say a professional tennis player, which again, would be a good idea for getting even better feedback.
Now, that’s fine. That you’re not doing something right, but you don’t know how to fix it, right? So that’s informational feedback. And then the third type of feedback is correct. Feedback, and this is at bottom, the most important type of feedback You have to be able to get to this with whatever you’re learning if you want to advance rapidly.
Now, corrective feedback is feedback in the form of information about what you’re doing right and wrong. Plus what to do to improve your strengths and correct your weaknesses. So let’s say you showed your practice footage to a coach and he then showed you how to fix your technique. He said, Oh, you need to hold your racket like this, or you need to throw the ball actually up here like this.
And you start doing that, and then it fixes one error you were making in. Serve technique. And then that translates into, let’s say seven out of 10 serves being inbounds on average, right? So that would be corrective feedback that you can then use to get better. And so the key point here is just as you would never try to navigate the high seas without instruments that tell you where you are and where you’re headed before you embark on a learning project, you have to ensure that you have mechanisms in place for getting.
Immediate specific and accurate feedback on outcomes. So that’s the high level as well as the processes, and that’s the more granular type of feedback that allows you to get to the outcomes you want. Okay, let’s move on to the third key takeaway quote. Careful experimentation not only brings out your best potential, it also eliminates bad habits and superstitions by putting them to the test of real.
Results. And my note here is experimentation is a pillar of effective learning because it makes you use your feedback to identify obstacles and challenges and then think about how to overcome them and then try new things to actually overcome them, and especially things that are outside of your comfort zone.
It challenges you to break with your normal routines and get creative, and it also encourages you to discard ideas and methods that don’t work. They become ingrained, and that’s big because then you don’t have to waste time and energy unlearning bad teachings and habits, and that process of unlearning can be a huge pain in the ass.
I had to do a lot of that when I was learning golf and putting a lot of time into building my swing because I had some bad movement patterns that I had established when I was younger, when I played just enough golf to. A pretty janky swing and to develop a muscle memory around a pretty janky swing, but not enough golf to learn how to make the swing work for the purposes of scoring.
Although my swing was so technically deficient, I probably wouldn’t have gotten far no matter how much I played, and I would’ve definitely hit a ceiling as far as my ability, simply because my swing had to be overhauled, or at least a major part of it did. A major part of it needed to be basically deleted and rebuilt.
The ground up. And so I had to go through that process a couple of years ago when I was picking golf back up. And I would say that to go from what the fuck to, Oh, that’s actually pretty good. It took a couple hundred hours of work. Sitting on the range, hitting balls, doing drills, taking video, watching video, comparing the video to a model swing.
Seeing what I was doing wrong, coming up with hypotheses of why that was and what I could do about it, trying to fix it. Discarding hypotheses, discarding methods. It was a process, and again, it took a couple hundred hours to make significant progress, and I would say it took another couple. Hundred to really acquire the muscle memory.
I wanted to override my previous bad habits and to get to a point where I could really swing the club the way I wanted to and where I felt like it was under my control and where my awareness of what I was doing with my body. Actually matched what I was doing with my body. What drove me crazy in the beginning is I would think that I was doing one thing in my swing.
That’s what I would feel as I was doing it. And then I would go look on camera and I was not even. Remotely doing it. And that was frustrating. But what was even more frustrating was for me to be able to do what I wanted to do with the swing plane, which is just the path that the club follows as it comes from the top of the swing when you’re wound up.
Coming down into impact and actually hitting the ball for me to be able to do what I wanted. It took such extreme changes, such extreme adjustments to my swing that I felt like it was a brand new swing and I felt like I was overdoing what I wanted to do by 300%, and I would go on camera and I still wasn’t doing it.
I was closer, but I still wasn’t there. It was. But I kept at it and eventually did crack the problem. And while I will revert back in that direction here and there, if I don’t pay attention sometimes, or if it’s later in around and I’m just fatigued and my focus isn’t exactly there, but my new default swing, the muscle memory, now I’ve built.
Rebuilt is much better than it was before. And the point of that entire story is unlearning sucks when you have thoroughly learned the wrong things. It is not fun, especially when we’re talking about unconscious physical actions, which the golf swing is. It’s just there’s too much going on for you to focus on much of anything really other than.
Good tempo and envisioning the shot you want to hit. It’s similar to baseball in that regard. For anybody who has played baseball. There’s a lot that goes into a technically sound baseball swing, but you have to get to a point where you can just execute it. The ball’s coming and you have to swing, and you have to be able to swing well.
On command and you have no time to think about the particulars. You don’t have time to think about how you are shifting your weight and rotating your hips and lagging your arms and the path that the bat is on or anything else. You have to be able to just go and anyway, this process of experimentation that I have just outlined to is discussed.
In detail in the book. So in the book, Young talks about incorporating experimentation in the form of drills. So you have to create a hypothesis of what’s holding you back, what’s preventing you from advancing in your skill or your knowledge. And then you need to immediately test that hypothesis with drills, with activities that allow you to practice very specific aspects of the overall skill that you’re trying to learn.
And then, Immediate feedback from those drills about whether you’re right or not regarding your hypothesis or whether the drill is useful or not. So for example, in my case with the golf swing, one hypothesis I had was that I was swinging too much with my arms and I needed to swing more with my body.
And so what I did is I found, Drills that we’re supposed to help with that, and we’re supposed to help you feel like you’re swinging more with your body and less with your arms. And after working on that for some time, after doing a number of drills for that and not seeing any progress, I abandoned that hypothesis and moved on to another one.
For example, one was that I wasn’t rotating my hips enough as I was swinging. And while this was factually true, you could. On camera. My hips were not open enough at impact. When I was striking the ball, the problem was why? Why were my hips not rotating the way you want them to? And would working on that specifically with drills fixed not only the hip rotation issue, but also the swing plane issue, which was really the bigger problem?
Or was there another problem that was causing both of those things that was causing the swing plane to be off as well? The hip rotation, and so I did try to tackle the hip rotation problem directly with drills. I even got this expensive app that would allow you to track how quickly your hips were moving to see if that was an issue.
Did I just need to move my hips faster? And I did a lot of camera work and didn’t really get anywhere in terms of correcting the swing plane or even the position of my hips at impact. And so eventually I abandoned the hip rotation hypothesis that if I worked on my hip rotation, if I just got used to opening my hips faster and firing them harder, I could fix the swing plane problem and the position of my hips at impact.
It just did not work. And so then eventually I formulated a hypothesis that the main problem really was just. Arms and my hands were moving too quickly. They were getting to the impact position too quickly, and there was simply no way for my hips to rotate quickly enough to keep up with them. And because my arms and hands were moving too quickly, that was throwing off my swing, and that was forcing me to stand up out of it and do other things you don’t wanna do in the golf swing.
And so I went looking for drills to address. Part of the swing. It’s the transition part when you’re going from the back swing now into the down swing. And after quite a bit of trial and error, I came across a drill that was the magic bullet that finally allowed me to swing the club the way I wanted to swing it and to feel like I was doing what I wanted to.
And to start doing it reliably. And it’s a very simple drill too at bottom. All it has you do is practice pointing the butt of the club at the right place in relation to the ball in your down swing to hit the shot you want to hit. And if you can do that, if you can just keep the butt of the club pointed at the right spot, then all of a sudden.
Your club gets on the correct plane for the shot that you want to hit, and your hips have time to rotate properly and your arms and your hands aren’t outpacing your hips. And as simple as that sounds, that was the one weird trick that finally fixed these problems. Problems that I had seen coaches on. I had worked with swing coaches online, offline, a number of them, and they all agreed that there was something wrong.
And ideally my swing would look a little bit different, but nobody knew what to do about it. Nobody had that drill in their repertoire, and so I just kept going until I finally figured it out and that basic approach that I. Used works tremendously well in any activity. And again, this is something that is discussed in detail in the book.
And the book has some great tips on how to come up with different types of drills because in some cases, like golf or other sports, you could just get a book of drills or you could just go online and you could find hundreds and hundreds of drills for all kinds of aspects of the activity, and that makes it easier to learn those types of.
But that’s not always the case. Of course, there are many things you may wanna learn that don’t have much in the way of predesigned drills that are even categorized as to what aspect of the activity they practice or what problems they troubleshoot and so forth. And you’re gonna have to make your own drills.
And the book has some good tips for doing.
If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my health and fitness books, including the number one best selling weightlifting books for men and women in the world. Bigger, leaner, stronger, and thinner. Leaner, stronger, as well as the leading flexible dieting cookbook, the shredded.
Okay, let’s move on to the next key takeaway number four quote. Laslow considered the ability to handle monotony, the capability to sustain interest and persistent attention as key traits. And my note here is quickly lass L refers to lass l polgar. Who successfully raised his three daughters, Juah, Sophia, and Udit to be chess, Prodigies and Jja actually went on to become the best and second best female chess players in the world.
And Sophia achieved the titles of International Master and Woman. Grand Master. So anyway, regarding lass LO’s Take on endurance and persistence, it reminds me of something hedge fund superstar Ray Dalio said in his book Principles quote, While there might be more glamour in coming up with the brilliant new ideas, most of success comes from doing the mundane and often distasteful stuff like identifying and dealing with problems and pushing hard over a long.
Time. So I want you to consider something. I want you to think of a sphere or activity in which you would like to improve. So let’s say it could be fitness or finances or feather painting, whatever, . Now, if you could get better by a mere 1% every day for a year, how much progress will you have made by the time you.
The answer might surprise you because you’ll be 37 times better than when you started, and that is the power of compound interest applied to life, which produces not arithmetic, but geometric progression over time. Thus, an apparently insignificant and unnoticeable change repeated often enough, can produce exponential growth or decay.
What’s more this principle is, Inescapable as gravity. It is either working for you or against you every minute of every day and in your every interaction with life, because everything is in a state of flux. It’s always getting better or getting worse. It’s never. Remaining exactly the same. And so the only effective way to wield this double edged weapon is with habits that accrue to you, grain by grain, the rich harvests you seek.
And that my friend, is the secret to overnight successes and surprising collapses, which are striking manifestations. Gradual accumulation, not sudden seismic shifts. Think the snowflakes that turn into the avalanche. And so again, I want you to consider the area that you want to improve in and ask yourself, what am I doing every day?
To accomplish this, and if you don’t have a good answer, then it’s time to reconsider your priorities. Because your daily actions, your routine will mostly determine the trajectory of your life. Remember that just 45 minutes of exercise every day can banish disease and dysfunction, and just 30 minutes of reading every day can turn you into an expert in just about anything and just a few hours of deep work every day.
Can produce a legacy. As James Clear says in his book, Atomic Habits, Every Action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. So my question for you, dear listener, is are you voting the way you know you should. All right, The fifth and final takeaway quote, Basically you should try to avoid situations that always make you feel good or bad about your performance.
And my note here is generally strenuous effort provides a greater benefit to learning than easy actions. And that’s not surprising. Like most activities, right? If you work harder, you get better results, but that is especially. True. When you are doing drills or when you are doing the activity itself, you don’t want an environment wherein you rarely fail or where you mostly fail, so you don’t want it to be too easy or too difficult.
You want just enough challenge. To stretch the limits of your ability where you are unable to predict whether you will succeed or fail. And what that means is, as a part of the learning process, you have to actively manage your environment. You have to dial down or up the difficulty as required by your performance.
Less. You fall into the habit that many people do, which is just reviewing or practicing what they know. They’re good at as opposed to pushing themselves to learn and expand their knowledge and capabilities. Now, if you do that and you combine that with the mechanism of immediate feedback, you’re probably going to experience some discomfort, maybe even a quite a bit of discomfort, and you’re gonna be frustrated and you are going to feel.
Conscious while you’re learning and while you’re practicing and while you’re doing and trying to really extend yourself. And that’s okay. That’s good. Those are just natural reactions to the process. Brace up though, because the payoff will not only be the satisfaction of increasing your knowledge and increasing your skill, but also the fun you’ll have with the activity outside of the learning environment as you get better and.
All right. That’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or. Wherever you’re listening to me from in whichever app you’re listening to me in, because that not only convinces people that they should check out the show, it also increases search visibility, and thus, it helps more people find their way to me and learn how to get fitter, leaner, stronger, healthier, and happier As.
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I read everything myself, and I’m always looking for constructive feedback, even if it is c. I’m open to it and of course you can email me if you have positive feedback as well, or if you have questions really relating to anything that you think I could help you with, definitely send me an email. That is the best way to get ahold of me, [email protected]
And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.