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  • Writer's pictureKarl Walker-Finch

Mindless learning

Updated: Jun 15

How many times do we need to learn a lesson before we start doing what we’ve been taught?

A simple problem that I encountered early on in my career as a dentist was that I’d go on some wonderful courses, learn a great deal and then never do anything with all this newly acquired knowledge. Other times I would learn little but still fail to action the small gains I could glean.

Worst of all were those courses in the Goldilocks zone when I’d learn about a topic that was pitched at the perfect level and I’d still not do anything constructive afterwards.

I would return to work, energised and excited about this world of opportunity, the better care I could now provide, the benefits to myself and the team around me and still not utilise the new found skills.

The reason? I would walk away inspired but without deciding what information was most useful and actionable. I'd leave without reflecting or planning.

Those advanced courses that are pitched far above my current level of skill or expertise can give me three takeaways that I can implement in practice.

On those courses when I leave feeling like I've not learned much, there's still always three small things I can do to improve.

And especially important, after those courses when I've learned a lot, distilling that learning into three actionable points ensures that I can actually make use of what I've learned.

Of course, I can always revisit my notes at a later date and see what else I have learned and stored in my subconscious, but it's in the immediate aftermath that it matters most to really consolidate our learning.

Three things, three short bullet points that we can implement immediately. That's the difference between mindless learning and successful learning.

  1. Make a list of the key takeaways

  2. Keep the list somewhere you'll see it

  3. Do the list

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