3 min read

Learning Through Insight

Learning Through Insight
Photo by Mareks Mangūzis / Unsplash

In this post I want to explore how people learn from the mind's perspective.

Beyond what method of learning we use or what type of learner you think you are, I want to explore how learning actually happens.

Before I get into that, I want to talk about why is this important or who is it relevant to. First, if we understand how learning occurs in humans, then it will help you relax around what skills you're still incompetent around. Second, if you are a leader and in charge of a group of people, even you're own children, then it is essential for you to understand how learning works because you get to create the right environment for your people to learn.

How to define learning

To learn: gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught.

Another definition is: become aware of (something) by information or from observation.

In understanding the human dimension, I am very interested in the second definition of the word learn. Top become aware! This is interesting because it does describes my experience of learning.

The first level of learning is acquiring the information and retaining the information at a surface level.

The second level is when I become aware of the actual meaning behind something. In other words, when I get an "aha" moment about the same information I acquired previously. This "aha" moment starts a process of getting a "feel" for something.

The second level is very interesting because information transition from being just data to being your own experience and knowing of those data.

We all got advice from our parents throughout our lives that at best, we thought " yeah yeah okay", and at worst we completely dismissed. Then we grow older and one day we get an "aha" moment and think to ourselves "oh that's what my father was trying to tell me"!

Those "aha" moments can also be called "insights".

Insight: the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something.

Gaining an accurate and deep understanding actually can only happen from the inside. Notice that we can't control when we get an insight. It just happens. One moment, driving a car is this complex process consisting of tens of steps, and the next moment it kind of clicks and it becomes effortless and looking in your rear view mirror before you back the car is just common sense.

The most ideal environment for insights

If you would like to experience more insights, you have to understand that a clear state of mind is the most optimum state for fresh new insight.

You can't think your way into an insight.

That is why insights famously occur in the most random places/situations like the shower, a walk in nature, or right after a nap.

The secret is not in those places, but in your state of mind as you do these activities. A clear state of mind is a receptive state. You're open to receive wisdom from the intelligence beyond your own intellect.

How to help others learn

If you are a leader then one of your goals is to help your team develop and learn.

To ensure your team grows and learn through insight, which is really the most powerful way to learn, then you need to cultivate a healthy environment for sparking insights.

Actually, the first step would be to point this understanding out to your team. Changing their orientation from seeking more data and intellectual learning, to deep insightful learning.

What gets in the way of insight?

1- Creating an environment of tension.

When the mind is tensed, it becomes hard to experience fresh new insight.

People rushing around to make deadlines or hit financial goals will find it hard to receive the necessary insight to help them be more effective, solve problems, and be creative.

It's not that deadlines and goals are not important, its the mental tensity that gets created when we think the world will end if we miss them.

2- Being in a state of busyness.

A busy mind is not a receptive mind. And today, being busy is a badge to wear with pride. Specially that most people are not productively busy, but just heady busy.

Slowing down on the inside aligns with how the human mind works. Your mind has more capacity for insight when it's in a healthy present state.

Obviously, this subject can be explored even deeper. But for now, directing your attention to this powerful way of learning will transform your progress and the progress of your team.