“The desire for knowledge always increases with the acquisition of it.” These words of Colin Wilson summarize what is meant by the term “a knower of himself.” There are people who have not mastered the concept of an undefined antecedent, but they can give you (by heart!) All the statistics of every baseball player who has played the game in the last half century. These people are self-aware on a particular topic. When you need to master a topic that barely appeals to you, you can participate in a learning process that will help make the “hard to swallow” easier to digest.


1. Know your best times to study chronologically and try to limit yourself to one intense hour at a time.

2. Take note of the especially interesting facts that you find and share them with a colleague as soon as possible.

3. Tape a large sheet of paper to the wall. After 15 to 20 minutes of study, come closer and write down the main points that you have acquired. When you sit back down, compare what is on the sheet with what is in front of you. If you’ve missed some critical points, go back to the sheet and add them.

4. Before taking a break, stand up and pretend that you are addressing an audience or that your boss has asked for a summary of what you have learned so far. Without referencing the material, try to capture your main points and say them out loud.

5. At least once during your study session, close your eyes and silently review what stands out in your mind. Then take notes on what you thought during this time: questions, concerns, additional ideas.

6. When you are done with your study session, take a sheet of paper and divide it into four or five columns. Label each one with words that indicate categories into which the new knowledge could be divided. Then fill in each column with as much specific detail as possible.

7. Teach others what you have learned.

8. Write the main ideas in the form of questions. Enlist the help of a friend to ask you the questions. Try to answer them without looking at your notes.

9. Distinguish between the information you need to memorize and the information you need to understand.

10. Write down everything you know about the topic and then give your list to someone who is also studying the material. Ask him to add the important information he left out and subtract the one that is no longer relevant. Study the new list to add the revisions to your memory bank. (Periodically, it’s good to do a similar knowledge purge with your supervisor if the material you’re learning is job-related.)

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