Right tools, right mindset and Nail it
5 mental models that helps you learn faster and better

5 mental models that helps you learn faster and better

Charlies Munger, the investment partner of Warren Buffet, said that his success is due to having many mental models. “With them”, he wrote in his book, “you will find yourself more efficient than those people surround you.”


What is a mental model? I understand it as a pair of 3D glasses. Look at the world with it, you’ll understand how the world is connected. One idea is flat but linking many ideas together, it becomes a 3D model and is useful to explain the world, which is also 3D.


But you shouldn’t have only one pair of glasses, you need a lot.


There is a saying that if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So for different problems, you need different tools.


Knowing what a mental model is, we go now go on to get the glasses to help us look more clear and learn better.


The most basic mental model for learning is

Learn, Test, Reflect,


Everything I am going to tell is based on this model. It is important because it translates the theory you learn into your knowledge and you can even build a new theory by using this model.


  1. Learning

  • Idea Maze

It is invented by Balaji S. Srinivasan. Originally it is used in business but it works well in learning too.


All of our learning, be it a skill or something else, consists of different parts.


Through drawing a maze and put different parts of the skill in the maze, you can understand how each part is affecting the other. Then you can choose to focus on the most important part.



  • Schelp Blindness
schelp blindness

It is also another mental modal for startups, which is created by Paul Graham. But I borrow it for learning to help me learn.


We know that science isn’t 100% correct. None of the theories is perfect. What we need to do when learning is to find the hidden idea in the theories.


What maybe possibly wrong in this idea? How can I correct this idea? You should be asking yourself these questions when learning. In other words, you should be critical.



  1. Testing


  1. 80/20 rules

20% of actions lead to 80% of results. It is what the rule means. When you’re learning, your task is to find out those 20% actions, which is the most efficient. You should be focusing on them. Do it right and you become the master.


But these hacks are not easy to find. You need to keep testing and measure the results, which lead us to the next stage, reflections



  1. Reflect


  1. KPT (Keep-Problem-Change)


When we do reflection, remember that we need to focus on the future. Don’t look at the past and blame yourself. We want improvement and nothing else.


Keep: Look for things that you’re doing well and that you can keep doing next time.

Problem: Consider what the problem is causing your failure

Change: Think of a solution to try next time.



  1. Confirmation bias
confirmation bias
photo from wikimedia

It is a dangerous thought that everyone should avoid. It means we only see the parts that we already agree with.


To learn one thing thoroughly, we need to absorb different opinions. Don’t blind yourself by only believing those you agree with and ignore comments that you disagree.


Abandon the thought that you’re good enough. It is hindering your improvement. (But I do not mean that you should always blame yourself. It is not good either)



Learn to build your own mental model


Learn, Test, Reflect


The ultimate goal of every kind of learning should be able to make the knowledge your own thing and create a new mental model base on the previous one.


How do we create new theory? We follow the basic mental model again.


Observe the others. How do they do? What did they say? Read the books of the successful. Conclude their teaching and make your own version of the theory.


Test your theory and see if it achieves your goal.


Based on the results, look for things to improve and things to keep. Always look for gaps to perfect your theory and combine the others newly learnt theory to create a better version.


Finally, learning is all about collecting glasses and adjusting it so that you can see clearly. One pair is not enough. Get as much as you can and be prepared.

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