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Be Your Own Teacher: How to Design a Self-Education Plan



“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune” - Jim Rohn, personal development coach

While High performers are not focused solely on money, they do understand and apply this concept. High performers are passionate and obsessed with their field of expertise but they also intentionally self-educate themselves both to deeper levels in their sphere of competency or in new areas.


If you feel like you are learning and still stuck at above average, there are a couple of factors that may be contributing to this:

  • You might be learning without structure (All your learning material and opportunities are random)

  • You don’t prioritize learning (Learning is something you do after you finish everything else)

  • Your area of learning is too broad (It is easier to become world-class in a narrow niche than a wide one)


This is culminated in a quote by Brendon Burchard saying, “If you leave your growth to randomness, you'll always live in the land of mediocrity.”


High performers create a specific and structured self-education plan which they prioritize. In this newsletter, you will learn why this is important and how to create your specific self-education plan.



2x3x Mindset


Robin Sharma, a leadership & productivity coach, shares a concept on what a self-education plan’s framework should consist of in his 2x3x Mindset. The 2x3x Mindset states, “To double your income and your impact, triple your investment, including your time investment, in two core areas: your personal mastery and your professional capabilities.” This creates the model that your self-education plan should have two distinct domains: Personal Mastery and Professional Capability.



Personal Mastery


Are you setting aside time daily to intentionally become a better, more complete version of yourself? This is important because we don’t see our outside environment as it is; we see it as we are. Our outlook and perceptions are largely determined by what we think about ourselves, our capabilities, and what opportunities we can be engaged in.


For example, two different engineers look at a problem. The first engineer sees the problem and compares that to what he thinks about himself.


Because this engineer has not taken the time to develop his skills, outlook, and perception, he sees the problem as an unsolvable disaster.


The next engineer goes through the same process. She looks at the problem and compares it to what she thinks about herself along with her skills, outlooks, and perceptions.


The only difference is this engineer has taken the time to build a growth mindset (A mindset that everything, while it may be a challenge, is accomplishable with enough effort and time). This emboldens her to think that this problem is a wonderful opportunity to showcase her talents.


The problem in both examples didn’t change but the way both engineers looked at the problem was drastically different.


What does the way you look at things say about you?



Professional Capability


You can be the greatest and most genuine person but, if you lack the skills needed for your position, you will become a liability.


Building your professional capability means building your ability to do more things at work. This does NOT mean simply doing more things in a quantity context but it means you are able to solve problems with an increasing degree of difficulty. You are able to solve progressively harder challenges successfully.


You continually get better at your position because you are actively devoting time to practice, learn and discover new strategies


Sharma suggests that you triple the amount of time that you devote to both professional mastery and professional capability but other than increasing the time spent learning, there are other strategies you can follow to build a self-education plan on your way to becoming a High Performer.


3 Step Skill Development


“Look in the future. Identify key skills. Obsessively develop those skills.”

This 3 step formula was given by Brendon Burchard in his book High-Performance Habits and gives a very high-level overview of how you can create a self-education plan. Let’s break down each step to gain more clarity on it.


Look in the future


One potential error in your self-education plan could be underestimating how long it can take and the effort needed to become a High Performer. You could spend 3 years becoming world-class in an area that is relevant now but in the future, is outdated.


To prevent this, before identifying any key skills to develop, think about the future and speculate what skills would be most impactful in your life 3-5 years from now.


Do this to future-proof your learning and prevent yourself from spending time becoming a high performer in an obsolete skill.


Looking into the future to select your skill also contains another benefit. It is easier to become a subject matter expert in emerging and developing areas than in something that has been around for some time. In new areas, your “competition” is less in both the number of players in the space and the collective knowledge these players hold. When diving into a new area, any revelation or idea that you have could impact that space forever.



Identify Key Skills


Once you have mentally projected into the future of your industry, you want to select only 3 skills to develop.


It is paramount that you only select 3. As Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, states, “If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.”


Select three very important areas integral to future development in your industry and go deep in them. This also falls in line with Pareto’s Principle or the 80/20 Rule. 80% of the knowledge pertaining to a particular topic can be found by mastering 20% of the subjects pertaining to it.


As you are selecting your 3 tasks, keep this in mind to maximize your learning and studying efforts.


Lastly, don’t forget to think about developing people or ‘soft’ skills in conjunction with your technical skills. While having technical skills can give you the knowledge base of a world-renown subject matter expert, if you lack the presentation, writing, or public speaking skills to deliver your knowledge in an effective and understandable way, your impact will be compromised.


I would encourage you to select 2 technical skills and 1 ‘soft’ skill to master so that you can gain knowledge and a way to share that knowledge with others.


Develop These Skills


So far you have looked into the future to project where your industry will be in the next 3-5 years and selected 3 skills to master. Now you need to obsessively develop those skills using the progressive mastery framework shared by Brendon Burchard.


The definition of obsessive is “An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind”. This means you want to learn and develop your 3 skills with such voracity that it occupies your mind even when you are not actively learning.


When you combine this approach to your self-education alongside the progressive mastery framework, you can become excellent in your skills rapidly.



Progressive Mastery Framework (PMF)


Practicing your 3 skills more frequently will make you more familiar with them but won’t necessarily make you better at them. You have to have a framework or intention alongside your repetitions in order to ensure that your increased time commitment leads to actual growth.


To become world-class in your 3 skills rapidly, you need the Progressive Mastery Framework system which will help you to not just improve your skill but also master it. Below are the steps involved in the PMF.


  1. Determine a skill that you want to master

  2. You should have already have done this in previous steps

  3. Set specific stretch goals on your path to developing that skill.

  4. You want to select a specific goal because this goal will direct your learning. It will also help you to narrow your research into a smaller area. Which would be easier to become world-class in, Circuit Analysis or Circuit Analysis for Solar Panels in Residential Applications?

  5. By creating a smaller, more specific target you make it more directed and, therefore, achievable.

  6. Attach a high level of emotion to your journey.

  7. Regardless of how logical you think you are, you are still an emotional being. By attaching a high level of emotion to your learning journey, you can motivate yourself to “go the extra mile” when needed.

  8. This can also be finding a person or ideal that is bigger than yourself to motivate you.

  9. Identify the factors critical to success, and develop your strengths in those areas.

  10. You want to further narrow down what aspects of the initial skill you need to improve to become excellent at the overall ability.

  11. Develop visualizations that clearly show what success and failure look like.

  12. Your brain cannot tell the difference between an imagined activity or the real thing when you visualize with as much detail as possible.

  13. Visualize your success and how you would avoid failure to get in “extra repetitions” in working towards your goals.

  14. Schedule challenging practices developed by experts.

  15. If you knew how to reach a goal, you would have it already. Get help or practice regimens from others who have mastered the requisite parts of your skill.

  16. If your skill is in an area so new that there are no experts at all, create your own practice regimen or locate adjacent areas to yours to practice in.

  17. Measure your progress and get outside feedback.

  18. Don’t lie to yourself about your progress. Objectively measure your progress to ensure that you are getting better and also to locate any problem areas.

  19. The best way to do this is to get a coach, accountability group, or a daily performance tracker.

  20. Socialize your learning by practicing or competing with others.

  21. Get around others who are working towards the same things you are. They will be able to support you, challenge your ideas and offer new perspectives.

  22. Continually set higher goals to keep improving.

  23. Once you have achieved your initial goal, reassess and set a new one. High performers are consistently and constantly stretching their current capabilities to grow more.

  24. Teach others what you are learning.

  25. You only know something as well as you can teach it. Teach to solidify concepts in your mind and give back to those who are trying to learn as well. They may be able to provide fresh concepts and ideas you previously hadn’t considered.



5-3-1-30-30 Plan


There is another framework that you can apply to your learning that was developed by Darren Hardy called the 5-3-1-30-30 plan. To utilize this plan, look into the future, identify your top 3 skills, and for each find the consensus best:

  • 5 books (audio or print)

  • 3 cd/DVDs/courses

  • 1 seminar

Then spend 30min a day reading or listening to the books and 30min working through the cd/DVD/courses. When the time comes for the seminar, ensure that you attend. Then do this for an entire year.


(To find what the consensus best are, research top 10 books lists online and see which are consistently in the top 10 OR ask respectable members in that field)


As you complete each book, training, or seminar, write out the three best ideas from that material and find a way to integrate them into your work practices one at a time.


For example, if you selected business communication as your key skill and one of the books you selected was “The Art of Communicating” by Thich Nhat Hanh one of the best ideas could be to slow and prepare yourself before speaking. The way you could integrate this into your work could be to place a sticky note on your work phone that says “breathe 2x” to remind yourself to stop, breathe and mentally prepare before the call.


Challenge

  • Find 3 skills to develop over the next 365 days

  • Choose now to use the progressive mastery or 5-3-1-30-30 framework

  • Whichever you choose, start working on it TODAY!

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