DC

DC

Eyram Sotome

Deconstruction

You can probably imagine the surprise on their faces when they figured out that they didn't have to teach. The students were learning all by themselves. What was really interesting was that these beginners were doing as good a job as the experts. Now granted, chicken sexing is not a very complex job like drawing cartoons or writing a book or flying a plane. Still, to move from box one to box three, how do they do that?

The answer lies in how the brain works. The brain really has two parts: the left brain and the right brain. The left brain is the bully brain. This requires all the steps and methods and logic. This requires all the steps and methods and logic. Then you have to right brain. It doesn't require all of that stuff. It's the creative brain. The creative brain is able to work out the elements that you need to get to that point and then feed it to the left brain, and then work out all the logic. Sometimes that logic never has to happen, which is why those chicken sexers couldn't pass on that skill by telling them do this and do that, and go here and do that.

What the right brain is really doing is it's identifying the errors and eliminating them. When you look at talent, talent is a reduction of errors. These people are getting this skill by reducing the errors, but not knowing what errors they are reducing because the right brain doesn't care. Eventually you're able to get to that skill without having the steps and the logic and the system in place.

There was another part of the secret that needed unfolding, and that was that you needed to learn by example. You know when they were picking up those chicks and going male chick, female chick, male chick, female chick, well you had to go through about 300 examples before you figured it out. But not just 300 examples, but 300 good examples. This is where the expert came into play. The expert was accurate every single time, so they were able to tell you that you were wrong, so you had 300 great examples.

Then you were able to do the task. We see this on the cartooning course as well. What we do is we put people into groups. The groups don't matter as much as the examples. Year after year we get lots of good examples. You curate those examples and you show those groups the examples. What they do is they start to recognize a pattern. They see all these different examples. If you were to tell someone draw a circle, how many ways can you draw a circle? As it appears, many ways some people draw circles with pencils. Some people draw big circles. Some people draw complete designs or a swimming pool with circles. Some people draw characters with circles.

Suddenly the brain is working out a pattern. It's working out how to get from box one to box three, completely eliminating box two. Those 200 to 300 good or great examples of what people need to learn, or rather to eliminate the errors, and that makes them great artists, or great chicken sexers, or great writers, or great speakers. When we look at the Renaissance, we see Michelangelo Buonarroti. We see Leonardo da Vinci. We see Rafael. We see Donatello. We see all of these great artists.

But what's really happening at that point in time? What we are seeing is 200 to 300 great examples, all of them in the same or similar workshops experimenting but also comparing each other's work. There is an explosion of talent. There is this moment in time and history when you have amazing art and amazing architecture, and we can't explain why it happens, but we can. It's going from box one to box three requires those 200 to 300 good examples. That's how you move ahead, especially when a skill cannot be taught.

We see this in the article writing course or the cartooning course, or any of the courses that we've constructed. We've constructed it in this way because we know that if the clients just show up and they do their assignments, and we give them those great examples, they will get very good at that skill. Now granted that cartooning or copywriting or article writing is far more complex than, say, chicken sexing. Still, when you go through those examples and you go through a system, that's when your brain eliminates or reduces the errors, and that's when you get talent. It's not something inborn. It's something that can be acquired. You can go from box one to box three in an accelerated way if you know how to get there with those examples. The key to a Psychotactics course is the quality of the examples. There is another element, and we'll talk about that in the next section, which is construction and deconstruction.

This takes us to the second part, where we're talking about construction and deconstruction, and how it plays a role in learning, but learning in an accelerated format.

Part 2: Construction and Deconstruction

I think most of us remember when we learned to ride a bicycle. One thing becomes very clearly apparent, and that is no one can actually teach you how to ride a bicycle. You can have a mother or a father or some kind of guide, and they're teaching you how to ride. They're saying just pedal pedal pedal, balance, go to your left, go to your right. But they're not giving you an instruction.

In effect, the left brain, the bully brain, it can't do anything. It's stuck because it requires this instruction and it requires it in a systemized way, and it's not getting it in a systemized way, and you're crashing to the floor all the time. Then the right brain takes over and it works out the errors and eliminates those errors, and soon you're just riding down the road at top speed with no problem at all.

Most of us are not prepared to fall down and get bruised all the time when we're learning a skill like cartooning or when we're learning writing or storytelling or presentations. What we need now is a factor of construction. This is where a good teacher comes into play. Good teachers are teachers, not preachers. There's a huge difference between a teacher and a preacher. A lot of information that you have in books or courses or workshops, or even presentations, is based on preaching, not teaching. The reason why it's based on preaching is because it's easy. You can take information and stack it up one over the other and you can have a book, you can have a course, you can have anything you want.

Teaching, that requires deconstruction, so the teacher must be able to break it down to a very, very small part that you're able to apply. When you're looking at how you're going to learn very quickly through the method of deconstruction, you have to look for the teacher, because the teacher will have a system, and the carrier will have a group. Within that group there will be examples.

To begin with, the system will have very tiny increments. This is what we do at Psychotactics. We make sure that you go one inch or even one centimeter a day. You move very slowly ahead, because you master that skill and then you move to the next, and then you learn skill A and skill B, and then skill A and B and C, and you have this layering system. Groups make a huge difference as well, because groups or members of the group start to make mistakes. When they make mistakes, those mistakes can be identified, those mistakes can be corrected, and essentially that's what talent is. Talent is a reduction of errors.

You have to know the errors in the first place to fix them, and that's how the group works. A great teacher will have that system, will have those groups, will have those examples. That's how you learn, because they have deconstructed everything down to those tiny increments. You only have to do one little step every single day. You will still make the mistake. When you make that mistake, others learn from it, and of course the teacher can step in and fix the mistake.

You compare this with learning by yourself. First of all, you have this book and it has chapters. Within the chapters there are subchapters, and there's more and more and more information. There's not this factor of tiny increments. When you don't have tiny increments, and you don't have examples, and you don't all of this facility to learn, then learning becomes very difficult. This is why we abandon learning. This is why we need to change the way we look at learning, which involves the teacher, the system, the group, and the examples. Because the examples, those 200 to 300 examples, they're very important. Examples can come in many forms. They can come in stories, in case studies, in how to. But essentially those examples become the critical element that allows the brain to filter out all the rubbish and keep what is important. Suddenly, you become talented.

This brings us to the end of the second part where we look at the system that you could use to learn. One is through construction, which is what the brain does automatically. The second is to find a teacher that is really good at having the system and examples and group. They will teach you through these tiny increments and you get deconstruction. Then you can put the bits together and improve your skill, and become talented very quickly.

How to find patterns when there's no one to help you

How do you pronounce S-A-K-E?

If you said “Sah-kay” you're right.

If on the other hand, you said “sah-key”, you've failed to see the pattern. In almost every phonetic language the letter “e” creates an “eh” sound. So when you read the word “karaoke”, you don't say, “carry-oh-key”, but “kara-oh-keh” instead.

Once someone points out the pattern, it's easy to correctly pronounce words in phonetic languages such as Maori, Spanish or Japanese. But what if no one reveals the pattern? In such a scenario, you'd miss the sound of “eh” and instead use “e”, instead. How do you find patterns when there's no one else to help you?

Let's try it now.

How do you say K-A-R-A-T-E?

And how about S-H-I-I-T-A-K-E?

You have it down pat, don't you? Kara-teh and Shee-ta-keh.

And no matter how many Japanese words you ran into from now on, you'd know that the “e” is all about “eh”. This tiny bit of information may make sense by itself, but it's when you see the profusion of the words that have “e”, that you realise how many words you're likely to pronounce incorrectly.

What you might not have noticed is that you've worked out the pattern

For deconstruction, the first phase involves taking a tiny piece of the pie, as it were and focus on that piece. However, unless someone points out the pattern, you may not see it right away. The moment you take many examples of that very same pattern, you start to get a clear understanding.

If we go back to the landing page example, for instance, you might not see the HOW and WHY so clearly on one landing page. After all, there are many ways to write bullets and copywriters take care to see they intersperse different types of bullets in an entire set.

Even so, if you were to go from one landing page to another, and keep at it, you'd see a pattern in an incredibly short period. Try it yourself. Go to about 5-7 landing pages on the Psychotactics site alone, and you'll start to see the pattern of HOW and WHY wherever bullets appear.

But there's an additional bonus in going through many examples

Once a pattern registers, you are likely to see other patterns as well. For instance, a bullet can be written in a very simple way, or it can be embellished to go a bit further. Let's take an example.

How to prepare the room before the presentation

How to prepare the room before the presentation (even if it's already been set up earlier).

How to prepare the room before the presentation (and make sure nothing goes wrong).

We added two other elements in the bullets and you'd notice if you went through a whole set of them

We emboldened those bullets with “and” or “even”. As you go through an entire set of bullets, page after page of nothing but bullets, the secrets of bullets reveal themselves to you. It's approximately how you go about deconstructing just about anything, even when there's no precedence.

For instance, during James Hutton's time, the world was thought to have a fixed creation date

Apparently on Saturday, October 22, 4004 BC, the world was created, or so it was taught around the time of James Hutton. Hutton is called the “father of modern geology” because he came up with the fundamental understanding of geology as we know it today. Hutton was curious about how the earth was formed. The religious texts of the day were pretty clear.

The earth was 6000 years old according to Archbishop James Ussher of Ireland. And that was that—no further discussion was allowed on the topic. Hutton wasn't exactly convinced and he set about his journey of deconstruction.

Hutton's moment of discovery came indirectly because of his whisky and his women

In 1747, Hutton was a young medical graduate, who got drunk and the ladies got too much of his attention. He managed to get his lover Miss Eddington pregnant. The scandal that erupted saw her being rushed off to London to give birth.

Hutton's family too needed to limit the damage to their reputation and he was forced to leave Edinburgh and go off to a small family farm in Slighhouses, Southern Scotland.

It was there that he saw the top soil run off and go downstream

If the land were always going to be eroded, there would be no topsoil and crops couldn't be grown; which in turn would cause people to starve over time. Hutton couldn't buy that the earth would be stripped away to nothing. Working in isolation, he rejected the world view at the time and needed to figure out how new land was formed.

And then on his form his great idea about “how new land could be created.”

Hutton's examples were cliffs. Around his farm were dozens, hundreds of cliffs. In the exposed parts of the cliffs, he'd have noticed the bands of rocks, laid down like layers one on top of the other, and at different times.

He'd figured out how rock was formed like no known person had done before his time. Sedimentary rock that's taught in school these days was revolutionary back in Hutton's time. How did he do it? He looked at example after example until the rock gave away its secrets.

Surely you and I could look at rock all day and the only result would be a big headache at the end of the day

But let's stop to think about deconstruction for a second. You could take apart quite a few things in your house or office today. Over time, and with a little bit of persistence, you'd work out how it was built. The more examples you deconstruct using the very same, or similar product, the more likely you'd be to recognise its structure.

While it may seem that some people are incredibly intelligent at deconstructing and reconstructing concepts, they're probably just as bright as you. The brain works solely through pattern-recognition. If you find enough examples to work with them, and you get working on those examples, the ideas reveal themselves to you over time.

There's no doubt a bit of luck involved

Luck plays as big, if not a larger role than hard work, but to deconstruct just about anything you need time and persistence. And lots and lots of examples. It's hard to believe that you, me, anyone of us can deconstruct, but you can look through historical or even modern times and find not tens of thousands, even millions of examples of people who achieve many deconstruction goals every single year.

Nothing is quite as good as a good teacher

A teacher's job is to reduce the learning curve and make you smart, smarter than the teacher himself. Even so, you can be your own teacher if you start with Phase one and isolate a tiny part of the big puzzle. When you get to Phase two, you'd need lots of examples, possibly hundreds, before a pattern clearly starts to emerge.

Sake, karate, karaoke. That's a pattern.

Writing bullets. That too is a pattern. Figuring out how the Earth regenerates itself, yes that is a pattern as well. Which then takes us to our last phase: reconstruction. Or how to stack the layers as you go forward.

Let's find out how it's done.

Understanding Pattern-Recognition

Picasso, Barcelona


I found these books in Spain. They are books on Picasso (as you can tell).

Imagine you went to a friend’s house today.

You’re in your friend’s kitchen.

And you see a chair.

And you sit down on that chair.

How do you know it’s safe to sit on that chair?

But even more interestingly, how do you know it’s a chair in the first instance?

Your brain worked out the pattern, didn’t it?

It figured out, that if the chair looked like a chair, then it must be a chair.

The chair you picked may be orange, and you’ve never sat in an orange chair before, but hey the brain still sees it as a chair.

And even if the chair didn’t have four legs. Even if it had just one central beam, your brain still sees the chair as a chair.

This is the simplicity of patterning

You see the chair. You sit on it.

A five-month old baby sees it.

And slams into it. Bumps into it. Stares at it.

Isn’t sure what to do with it.

The patterns are clear in your brain. The patterns are not that clear in the brain of that baby.

Which brings us to why some people seem so talented

They just see patterns we don’t see (not yet, anyway!)

But here’s the really frustrating part.

If you ask a ‘talented’ person what they’re seeing, they can’t explain what’s really happening.

picasso.jpg

 

So if you asked the famous artist Picasso, what patterns he saw before he drew a masterpiece, he may not have been able to give you an answer. And yet, he was seeing patterns.

But patterns at such high speed that most talented people can’t tell you what they’re seeing.

These um, talented people simply draw, or sing, or dance.

They can’t describe to you the pattern (in most cases).

So how do we know it’s a pattern after all?

Because of the repetition.

Picasso’s first drawing may not look exactly like the next, but try as he may, the next drawing will have an overlap of the first.

A dancer may do a completely different dance routine, but hey, there’s the style coming through. And what is style, but a pattern?

Artists, dancers, heck even criminals follow a pattern.

But because we can’t see the pattern at normal speed, we think it’s talent.

Yes, you have a talent for spotting a chair.

Yes, you have a talent for sitting down on a chair.

But can you explain that talent to me?

No you can’t.

Because it’s happening too fast in your brain.

And that’s exactly what’s happening in the brains of so-called talented people.

But let’s do the impossible in the posts to follow, shall we?

Let’s slow down patterns so that you can see them.

Aha…now that would be something eh?

Then the so-called talent wouldn’t be so magical after all.

But how do we slow things down? That’s the question.

And yes, there’s an answer.

Amazing as it may sound, there’s a simple, logical answer.

But hey, that answer will come in another post.

For now, look around and see your magnificent brain. And how it seems to recognise patterns all the time.

You are indeed talented at recognising patterns.

But we’ll go one step further. We’ll do stuff that seems impossible.

Like draw cartoons. Or write jokes. Or do things that seem um, quite out of your current league.

The Blech System of Pattern Recognition


What has the “Blech” factor to do with most talented people and pattern recognition?

Have you ever tasted a hamburger before?

Have you drank some sort of drink with it?

Well, there's a good chance you've been exposed to the multi-billion dollar flavour industry. Almost all the products we eat or drink have these flavours and companies spend massive amounts of money researching to make sure the get the right flavour for their product. And yet, in the early 1990s, a well-known flavour company did something really weird.

They'd conduct tons of very expensive market research and then ignore that research

Instead they'd go to one of their employees and ask her to taste the flavour and they'd wait for the “blech” response. If this employee said ‘blech' and contorted her face in disgust, the company would do something even more weird. They'd treat that particular flavour as the winner. And invariably, the flavour would do amazingly well in the marketplace.

But what was causing that employee to say “blech?”

No one really knew—not even the employee. She could kinda describe what she felt, but if you asked her to write it down so that anyone else could get the same “blech” response, she wouldn't be able to explain it to you.

But the results were outstanding nonetheless.

This is the “blech” factor at work with most talented people

They cannot tell you why they think something is wrong. But they can spot an error a mile away. In the case study above, the employee was doing the opposite. She was identifying what she thought was an error, which of course the public loved.

It doesn't matter which way you slice and dice the result, the fact remains: the talent for identifying the winner remained in place. But the problem is that the person still can't explain the steps involved.

And this is why talent becomes so very mysterious

Vic Braden is a tennis coach of great repute. He has the same problem. He can spot a double fault before the player hits the ball. Professional tennis players are able to go through entire games without making more than two or three double faults. And yet, like magic, Vic can tell—long before the ball has been hit.

There's something about the way the players hold themselves or does just before, that causes Vic to call the double fault.

And there's a reason why they can't explain this pattern recognition

For this we have to go down the road with two sets of parents. The sun is rising. And one parent turns to their child and says: “Look at the sunrise. It's so beautiful.” And the child learns the word “sunrise” and “beautiful”.

The second parent walks with their child and says: “Look at the sunrise. Look how blue the sky is right at the top. Look how it then moves to a mix of yellow-ochre and blue. And then finally look how much yellow ochre there is on the horizon. And notice that orange glow just as the sun comes up, maybe even a little pink.

And yes, isn't that a beautiful sunrise?

Now what's happened in the brain of these two kids?

Something quite interesting actually. Both are seeing the same sunrise. But one is being exposed to a completely different set of facts that goes way beyond the terms “beautiful” and “sunrise”.

They may not even understand what “blue” and “yellow ochre” is, but they will register it.

As you have registered it in your brain right now.

When you step out to look at the sky, you will never see “blue skies” again. You will see shades in the sky that you've never seen though you've been looking at skies for decades.

The problem is that the moment of recognition is brief and often unimportant

If you asked the parent: When did you teach your child to recognise the shades in the sky? they will often have no recollection. The child themselves, will have no recollection of the event.

And yet the brain is at work. It's seeing the pattern and recognising it. Sometimes the pattern is pointed out by someone else, as I'm doing here. Sometimes the pattern is just detected in your brain, without any conscious effort.

Over time, the pattern builds up and there comes a moment when “blech” becomes the norm. When you can see the “blech” factor unfolding before your very eyes.

But this does bring up an important question: Why is the “blech factor” so important?

It's important because the definition of talent (yes, my definition) is a “reduction of errors”. The fewer errors you make, the more talented you are. So for instance, if you were writing headlines and I showed you, and worked you through a series of ways to write headlines, you'd have to go through three separate stages.

Stage 1: How to detect a blech headline.

Stage 2: How to fix it.

Stage 3: How to get a great headline.

And because headline writing consists of simple elements that you add or subtract, it's easy to know when a headline is blech

And how to fix it. When you fix it, you get a great headline. There's no great magic to it. But without the blech factor it's hard to tell. Because beauty or greatness is abstract. But when that child grows up a bit and looks at an oil painting that has a perfectly blue sky from top to bottom, they'll know something is wrong.

They may not be able to tell you that the shades are missing, but they'll voice their “blech”—and you'll think of them as extremely talented, even though the can't explain why they are able to spot the good from the crappy.

That employee was able to detect the blech factor

Even though the market research (yes, the very, very expensive market research) was pointing in one direction, she would be able to spot a winner by the one flavour that made her feel all “blech”. And it made her company millions of dollars in contracts.

But it's all a mystery, because it can't be bottled. That code may not decrypted easily. And yet, there is a code, if you're truly interested in learning a skill.

When you find the right teacher and have a system of training in place, this code is easy to crack

You have to learn the code. And practice it. Then it becomes second nature.

You know the good stuff. And you know the blech. And you can fix it.

And people call you “amazingly talented”.

And you smile and say “thank you”.

Part 1: Understanding Box One, Two, and Three

Let me tell you the story about my hairdresser. His name is Francis. Now Francis grew up in Samoa and he was brought up by his grandfather. His grandfather was a fisherman, but he also cut hair. Now Francis was 11 years old when his grandfather got him into their saloon, or what he considered to be a saloon. Francis was not allowed to touch the scissors. He was only allowed to sit there and watch or sweet the floor and watch, but all he was doing was watching and watching and watching. No matter how many times Francis asked, his grandfather said, “You're not ready, Francis. You're not ready.”

Francis went through several years of just sweeping the floor and watching. Then one day when he was 15 he came home from school and he walked through the door, and his grandfather says, “Francis, you're ready.” Francis turns around, “Ready? You're ready for what?” He says, “You're ready to cut hair.” He gives him the scissor, and there is this guy sitting in the barber's chair. Now that happens to be Francis' grandfather's friend, so obviously he was ready for that kind of haircut from this absolute beginner who hadn't touched the scissor, who hadn't cut hair. He was trusting him to do a good job. As Francis tells the story, he had no problem whatsoever.

What's happening here? Why is Francis able to cut hair when he has no experience whatsoever? Why is he not feeling any fear when he's cutting the hair, when he should really be extremely fearful? This is the concept of box one, box two, and box three. Box one is when you are kind of hopeless at a task. We want to do something. We know we should do it, but we're not very good at it. Box two is the middle box. We're kind of good at the task but not that great. Eventually we get to box three. That is when we have this fluency and when we don't have to drain our brain's resources.

The problem is that most of us get stuck at box two, and it's the middle box, but you can effectively call it the muddle box. Because when we go from box one … say we're learning a language like Spanish, so we go from box one to box two, and then we get stuck. We have phrases like “where you from” and “what's your name,” and “I'm a professor” or “I'm a student,” whatever. Then we're stuck there and we're spinning there. Why don't we go to box three? Because it's very difficult to go to box three.

That's what the chicken sexers learned. They learned that it was very easy for them to tell the male chicken from the female chicken, but they couldn't tell you how to go about it. Here's what they had to do. They got you to lift the chick and for you to guess. You could guess and you could say, “That's male,” and they would say yes or no. Then you would go about putting the chick in the box, and so you'd go forward. Male chicken, female chicken, male chicken. They would say yes, no, yes, no, yes, no. Then suddenly you get it, and no one gave you any instruction.

You can probably imagine the surprise on their faces when they figured out that they didn't have to teach. The students were learning all by themselves. What was really interesting was that these beginners were doing as good a job as the experts. Now granted, chicken sexing is not a very complex job like drawing cartoons or writing a book or flying a plane. Still, to move from box one to box three, how do they do that?

The answer lies in how the brain works. The brain really has two parts: the left brain and the right brain. The left brain is the bully brain. This requires all the steps and methods and logic. This requires all the steps and methods and logic. Then you have to right brain. It doesn't require all of that stuff. It's the creative brain. The creative brain is able to work out the elements that you need to get to that point and then feed it to the left brain, and then work out all the logic. Sometimes that logic never has to happen, which is why those chicken sexers couldn't pass on that skill by telling them do this and do that, and go here and do that.

What the right brain is really doing is it's identifying the errors and eliminating them. When you look at talent, talent is a reduction of errors. These people are getting this skill by reducing the errors, but not knowing what errors they are reducing because the right brain doesn't care. Eventually you're able to get to that skill without having the steps and the logic and the system in place.

There was another part of the secret that needed unfolding, and that was that you needed to learn by example. You know when they were picking up those chicks and going male chick, female chick, male chick, female chick, well you had to go through about 300 examples before you figured it out. But not just 300 examples, but 300 good examples. This is where the expert came into play. The expert was accurate every single time, so they were able to tell you that you were wrong, so you had 300 great examples.

Then you were able to do the task. We see this on the cartooning course as well. What we do is we put people into groups. The groups don't matter as much as the examples. Year after year we get lots of good examples. You curate those examples and you show those groups the examples. What they do is they start to recognize a pattern. They see all these different examples. If you were to tell someone draw a circle, how many ways can you draw a circle? As it appears, many ways some people draw circles with pencils. Some people draw big circles. Some people draw complete designs or a swimming pool with circles. Some people draw characters with circles.

Suddenly the brain is working out a pattern. It's working out how to get from box one to box three, completely eliminating box two. Those 200 to 300 good or great examples of what people need to learn, or rather to eliminate the errors, and that makes them great artists, or great chicken sexers, or great writers, or great speakers. When we look at the Renaissance, we see Michelangelo Buonarroti. We see Leonardo da Vinci. We see Rafael. We see Donatello. We see all of these great artists.

But what's really happening at that point in time? What we are seeing is 200 to 300 great examples, all of them in the same or similar workshops experimenting but also comparing each other's work. There is an explosion of talent. There is this moment in time and history when you have amazing art and amazing architecture, and we can't explain why it happens, but we can. It's going from box one to box three requires those 200 to 300 good examples. That's how you move ahead, especially when a skill cannot be taught.

We see this in the article writing course or the cartooning course, or any of the courses that we've constructed. We've constructed it in this way because we know that if the clients just show up and they do their assignments, and we give them those great examples, they will get very good at that skill. Now granted that cartooning or copywriting or article writing is far more complex than, say, chicken sexing. Still, when you go through those examples and you go through a system, that's when your brain eliminates or reduces the errors, and that's when you get talent. It's not something inborn. It's something that can be acquired. You can go from box one to box three in an accelerated way if you know how to get there with those examples. The key to a Psychotactics course is the quality of the examples.

Now this takes us to the third part, which is how do we use this?

Part 3: How Do We Use This Accelerated Learning System?

How do we use this while learning or teaching? I mentor my niece Marsha every day. Marsha was having a problem with writing stories with drama. Now all of us know that we have to write better. One of the critical elements of stories is drama. How do you create this intensity where people want to listen to you, where they want to read your stuff? She was writing these stories that just didn't have any drama.

How are you going to teach an 11 year old kid how to work with drama? As it appears, it's remarkably simple. what I did was I used the same concept of chicken sexing. I started out with a good story, then a boring story, then a good story and a good story, and a boring story, boring story, good story. You know how this is going to unfold, don't you? Marsha was able to identify which was the boring story and which was the good story. Once I gave her a number of examples, and I continue giving her those examples whenever she's writing, what we have is a situation where she'll go back and she'll write a great story.

Now notice that I haven't specifically given her any method to write great stories, but she's worked it out. Her brain has worked out what is a boring story, what is a good story. Without too much effort, it has gone from box one to box three, and there's very little input except identifying which was good and which was bad. This is now where the second part comes in, which is the construction bits.

Now when you have to system, when say now we're going to concentrate on this little bit, then you can build on that, and that's when that skill goes from just average to brilliant. It goes from box one to box three, and then box 3.1 maybe. We do this on the headline writing course. You are soon able to write hundreds, even thousands of headlines, which incidentally you do on the course. You're able to do it because you can identify the good from the bad, but more importantly, you also have the construction methods, which is what makes a great headline.

Most people, they guess. They expect that they can just copy your headline and change the words. They don't understand what's happening. It's important not to understand, but it's also important to understand. The construction and the deconstruction is very critical. The ability to let your brain figure it out all by itself is very critical, but then to get to 3.1 it really helps to have those methods in place as well, the system that a teacher will bring, the tiny increments, the examples. You have high quality examples and high quantity examples.

That is precisely what happened in the Renaissance. All those great artists, sculptors, engineers, they all came from one age because they had high quality and high quantity. That is the same reason why Francis could pick up that scissor and cut hair when he came home from school. Which of course brings us to the end of this episode, in which we have covered just three things, which is very critical when you're teaching and when you're learning to learn just a little bit, very tiny increments.

Summary

We learned about box one, box two, and box three, and how we get stuck in that middle or muddle box, and how it's important to jump from box one to box three. How do we do that? We do that through high quality and high quantity examples. That's when we get to fluency.

The second thing is when you're looking at deconstruction and construction. While it's fine to fall around like we're doing on bicycles, it's not very helpful. What we have to do is find a teacher, a teacher with a system, a group, and of course tons of examples. Because that's where the magic really lies. Finally, when you're learning, you want to find 200, 300 great examples. But when you're teaching you can create the situation where you're creating good, bad, good, bad, good, bad. The client is then just made to identify it, and they become very good at it. Then you can bring in the construction bits. Then you can layer over your system and they move from box one to box three, and possibly 3.1.

What's the one thing that you can do today? It's going to be very hard to find examples, and hundreds of good examples, and high quality examples. What you can do is you can start to accumulate examples so that when you're teaching someone you have those examples in play.

The Four Critical Zones Required to Speed Up Your Learning


Have you ever seen two pianists play the same music?

It's the very same score, the very same piano, but one seems to play it better than the other. Not just a little better, but a lot better. So what makes one person's playing so different from the other?

It's inborn talent.

That's what most people will tell you anyway. They'll jab their fingers at you and tell you: “This is the difference between someone who's born with the gift vs. someone who was simply playing because he or she had to do so.”

And of course, they would be wrong

What looks like inborn talent, isn't inborn talent at all. It just looks like that because one person is playing so much better than the other. And to understand why one person does things so much better than the other isn't easy to nail down. But there are four critical elements that enhance learning. They are:

1) Work

2) Play

3) Downtime

4) Sleep

Zone 1: Work

Let's start with work. Work is when you're learning something. You have to carefully follow the instructions, stay in line, and do what is completely outside your comfort zone. This is the part we spend most of our time in, when learning a new skill; a new talent. But of course, we ignore the second zone completely. A zone called play.

Zone 2: So what's play?

Play is where you don't stay in line. When you do what's in your comfort zone. When there are no instructions to follow. Where you do crazy, goofy things that no one can judge you, and not even you can judge yourself. We talk time and time again about how kids learn faster than adults, but you know what's coming next, don't you? Yes, adults don't play.

We put our nose to the grindstone and ignore the play zone completely. And kids play, play, play. All the time, even when learning a new skills, they default quickly to the play zone. And you as an adult, have more fun teaching a kid a skill when playing a game, rather than when making them work. And yes, while work and play is great, it's not enough. We also have to explore the third zone: downtime.

Zone 3: Downtime

I was recently at a watercolour workshop in Spain. And when the teacher finished showing us how to do a particular painting, he would tell us to pick up our coffee/tea and get started on our own painting right away. See the problem? No, I couldn't. Because you see, I used to be like that teacher. I thought that if people spent some time getting their coffee/tea, that was enough downtime. But no, that's not downtime at all.

Downtime is a complete break. A break where the brain decompresses and assimilates the learning. But it's not trying to assimilate anything. It's just chilling out, as it were. And in doing so, it lets the brain relax and re-energise itself before implementing the ‘work' once again. Having downtime is important because the brain gets too tired from learning a new skill. Most of us view downtime as a wasted time.

And it's not wasted time at all. A tired brain works a lot slower and ineffectively than a rested brain. And yet we ignore downtime. We don't make it part of the system, any more than we make play part of the system. And yet, it's vital for the brain. Vital to refresh itself, put the pieces together and take a lot better control of the skill we're about to learn. Which of course, takes us to the last zone: sleep.

Zone 4: Sleep

Most of us say we get too little sleep. But given a chance, most of us squander opportunities to sleep. At night, for instance, most of us will rather watch some TV, trawl through Facebook or do something that makes us stay awake—than sleep early. And sleep is the play part of downtime. If downtime is when we're consciously decompressing what we've learned, sleep is the chill out version of decompress. It's when the brain goes into waka-waka mode and has a fiesta processing the learning in a completely different—and playful manner.

And sleep is important by night, but it's also critical by day. A simple 20-minute sleep at your desk doesn't make you groggy and yet sharpens your ability to focus. And yet, we don't sleep much. Either by day, or night.

Notice what kids do instead?

They sleep a lot. They have a ton of downtime. They play a lot. They also learn a lot. Kids make the maximum use of all four zones. We don't. We think we're adults. We don't have time. And yet the opposite is true. If we created a strategy for ourselves to have all four zones going, we could learn faster and more efficiently than any child could ever learn. But we don't give ourselves the chance. All we ever do is work.

Like Ahmet, for instance

Remember that watercolour class? Well, there was this guy called Ahmet. Ahmet worked relentlessly. He took notes endlessly. He practiced long after the rest of us were gulping down sangrias in jar loads. And Ahmet struggled. He's been practicing for years and struggling for years. He doesn't sleep much, has no downtime and definitely no play time. It's all about work, work, work.

To learn a skill efficiently, you need all four zones to kick in

As a teacher, you've got to put at least the first two zones into action: work and play. As a student, you've got to make sure you have downtime. Time where you're doing nothing at all. And yes, you should get more sleep.

When one person plays the piano better than the other, it's often not because of the sheer work. Look closely at the person's habits and you'll find something else as well. So when the next person jabs a finger at you and lectures you on inborn talent, ask them if they get enough downtime, sleep and play.

Because work alone, just doesn't—work.

P.S. In the cartooning course, we have work and play time. Work time is when you do the assignment and play time is when you do the doodles. In the Article Writing Course, we get students to write about their travels, their hobbies—anything but work. And this is play time. Later, we get them to move to work articles.

In the headline course, attendees write tons of headlines. Some of those headlines are about dinosaurs, monkeys and bananas—playtime. Every course, every learning experience can be designed with work and play in mind.

And yes, downtime can be organised too. Organised breaks (e.g. the weekend) or a week in between a course, coffee breaks and games at live events—all downtime. Of course it's up to the student to get their sleep. But you as the teacher need to put in a word so they know why they need to switch off their iPad and TVs and just doze away, by day or night.

You need all four zones to kick—but one of the biggest reasons why we struggle with our learning is because we don't know how to start deconstructing.

Deconstruction always starts with a choice. But what do you choose? Let's find out.

Part 1: Where to start your journey of deconstruction

A tonne of gold costs about $64.3 million in today's prices.

Indians are reputed to own 22,000 tonnes of gold. That's a staggering $1 trillion dollars in gold in a single country. Gold bars and coins are almost alway bought at festivals when buying gold is said to bring luck to the buyers. But the real obsession for gold stems from wedding jewellery. Weddings alone account for 50% of the demand every year.

And in South Mumbai, if you wanted to buy gold, you'd head to a particular area called Sonapur.

“Sona” is the Hindi word for gold and in Sonapur, you'd see dozens of gold merchant stores crammed back to back in a specific area. Now bear in mind that Mumbai is a big city that spans 603.4 square kilometres. Yet, someone looking for jewellery, and particularly gold jewellery would know exactly where to go.

We have no such specifics when we're dealing with a vast and complex topic

Should we start with wave formation or thermohaline circulation? Upwelling, dead zones or nutrient distribution? Or should we wander right into sea surface height, instead? It's clear that we need to start somewhere and the best way to get started is to pick subject matter at random.

Random? Surely that doesn't seem to be a systematic way to go about deconstruction

Let's pick “dead zones” from our list above, shall we? It's a pretty random pick considering how much material the six-minute video covers. However, as we dig into the topic, one thing becomes very clear. It's easier to dig deeper into “dead zones” and see how they occur. In under a minute, this video talks about how we get to mass extinction by focusing on a single topic.

Deconstruction becomes clearer when we move into areas we're more familiar with

Let's take a sales page or landing page, for instance. A landing page has headlines, subheads, first paragraphs, problems, solutions, objections, uniqueness, bullets—the list goes on and on. To be intimidated by such a vast amount of moderately unfamiliar information is difficult to cope with. So we go into “random mode”.

We pick something—anything—so that we can get going. Let's ignore the vast majority of the page, and head for the bullets, instead.

What do you notice when you look at the bullets below?

– How to assemble all the elements a customer needs to see to buy

– Why template based construction is key to pain-free landing pages

– Why “How to, how, and why” are your best friends in bullet points

– How to use sequence graphics to keep your reader on the page

– Why Bonuses need graphics for maximum impact

– How to write bullets that sell even if you can’t write

– How to avoid ineffective graphics

– How to construct power testimonials even for a new product

– Why FAQs are the place for “fussy” objections

– Why the target profile is central to growing your tribe

Didn't find a pattern?

Well, let's look at it another way, shall we?

– How to assemble all the elements a customer needs to see to buy

– How to use sequence graphics to keep your reader on the page

– How to write bullets that sell even if you can’t write

– How to avoid ineffective graphics

– How to construct power testimonials even for a new product

– Why FAQs are the place for “fussy” objections

– Why Bonuses need graphics for maximum impact

– Why template based construction is key to pain-free landing pages

– Why “How to, how, and why” are your best friends in bullet points- Why the target profile is central to growing your tribe

You noticed the HOW and WHY this time around, didn't you?

If you're looking at the entire landing page, you're unlikely to notice the pattern even if someone helpfully placed it in the HOW and WHY format. You'd be focusing on too large an area, and it's close to impossible to deconstruct your subject matter when the area is too vast. Instead, you need to look at all the components available and choose just a tiny area, just like Sonapur, where the gold jewellery is sold. If the entire map of Mumbai were your sales page, Sonapur would represent the “bullets”.

When I was learning badminton many years ago, my coach taught me how to win points consistently

My badminton days are a bit of history now, not so much because I'm getting older, but more so because I'm one of those crazy people you see on the court. You know the type, don't you? They lunge at everything. And all of that lunging and diving just to win the point ended up with a tonne of muscle pulls and strains. Being the super-competitive person I am, I hired a coach to help me win points without having to lunge about so much.

But you see the problem looming, don't you?

Where do you start? The coach started randomly, getting me to focus on the grip. You can try it yourself, even if you don't have a handy badminton racket around. Squeeze your fingers together as if gripping a racket, while moving your hand forward.

Immediately there's a tension in the shot causing the shuttlecock to go back faster over the net. Avoid the squeeze and attempt to hit the same shot, and the shuttlecock goes a lot slower, thus dropping short of the opponent. By focusing on a subtle component of the entire game, the coach was able to get me to practice the grip, and that alone helped me win a few extra points in every match.

Every topic has multiple layers that make up the whole

The reason why we get confused and are unable to decipher, let alone master the topic is that we try and take on the entire 604 square kilometres of real estate instead of focusing on a single area.

So do you remember what you just learned?

Let's see. What did we cover?

Summary:

– Where to start your journey of deconstruction

– How to find patterns when there's no one to help you

– How to stack the layers as you go forward

The journey needs to start with a small slice. Instead of taking on a big topic, go down to one tiny part. Want to take apart the car? How about holding back a little and then taking apart just the wheel, instead? If you have someone to help you; a teacher; a guide, then that speeds up the learning process.

But what if you have no one?

In such a case, and in every case, really, you should be looking at a tonne of examples.

Examples help you understand the same problem, see the same patterns from many angles. If you look at dozens of examples, you'll find the so-called secrets.

Finally, when it comes back to the reconstruct, be a bit stingy with your topics. Just cover three main topics and go really deep.

And that is the short and exciting journey of deconstruction.


References:

  1. https://www.psychotactics.com/speed-learning/
  2. https://www.psychotactics.com/understanding-pattern-recognition/
  3. https://www.psychotactics.com/blech-system-pattern-recognition/
  4. https://www.psychotactics.com/accelerated-learning-skill/
  5. https://www.psychotactics.com/critical-zones-learning/
  6. https://www.psychotactics.com/sequential-landing-page/