Immersion - The golden Graal of learning

Immersion - The golden Graal of learning

What are your goals? Most people have some goals or bucket lists, either on paper or in their heads. A common positions there are things like getting a promotion, becoming a good dancer or writing a book. Those are great goals, but the mistake people often do when trying to reach, them is that their plan is a list of actions, when instead it should be primary a list of skills to learn.

It is natural for us to concentrate on actions

- What is your plan to become a great dancer?

- I plan to attend to this and that course, take extra lessons, be on parties…

This is a list of actions. We like to plan actions, as they are more concrete. If your plan is to attend 100 dance lessons, you can easily track your progress. Even though it actually measures nothing. A better way it to make a to-learn list - list of all the skills you need to learn to achieve some goal.

Concentrating on actions and concentrating on skills

Concentrating on skills is very different than concentrating on actions. Your goal is then to learn something new and concrete. Think about performing on a stage. If your goal is to do the best performance you can, it will probably be best for your viewers now, but it is unlikely you will learn something new. You will use the skills and tricks you know best. There is no space for experimentation, no space for learning. If, instead, your goal would be to say learn to use your voice in an interesting way, chances are your performance will not be as good, but you would another skill to your skill set and you would improve. This is concentration on skills.

There are a few reasons why concentrating on stills is important:

  • Most professionals plateau, mostly because they are concentrated on their performance, not their skills. When we are good, we think we got all the answers and we just follow the same paths. But there are always useful skills to learn, and those who notice and practice them will progress faster than others.
  • Most goals are primary require learning, not doing. When your goals is to write a book, the biggest obstacle is not writing this pages, but instead learning to be a good writer. When you want to have a promotion, the most important thing is to learn skills required for this new position. Even loosing weight is primary learning better health habits, building a discipline, learning to motivate yourself to exercise. Action without learning rarely makes any difference in long run. Learning is essential.
  • Learning skills is meaningful. Seeing that you get better in something is very fulfilling and pleasant. This is why so many sportsman or musicians spend long hours on learning new skills even though they are rarely well paid. We love learning, and learning is essential to every success. Even the highest respects are not tasty when we do not feel good enough for them.

Writing to-learn list

Writing to-learn list is not easy and it often requires some research. It needs to be a list of concrete skills to learn. Learning to dance is not a concrete skill. Hearing rhythm in the music is. Making basic steps too. Making a correct frame to lead your partner too. Or leading a figure. I believe you see the point. Big skills needs to be splatted into small and more concrete chunks that can be learned.

A good question to ask yourself is “What are the skills of the perfect X”. For instance, I might ask myself “What are the skills of the perfect speaker?”. As a result, I can produce a very long list:

  • Speaking without sounds like eeee, yyyy, aaaa
  • Observing the audience
  • Using different voices
  • Throwing jokes

It is impossible to learn it all at once. But we can learn them one after another. no-one becomes a great speaker overnight. It is often said that becoming a master in most disciplines takes 10 000 hours. The thing is to use this time effectively.

When you have a skills to learn, prioritize to those that are important to you. Then keep this list. Just the fact that you have it should motivate you to look for opportunities to learn those skills. Then it is best to spend your time on deliberately practicing them.

Deliberate practice

Deliberate practice is a popular term in describing deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain. Psychologists identified that the key parts of the deliberate practice (except of concentration) are:

  1. Feedback - practice is more effective when you have faster feedback on your performance. Thanks to that you can faster change your behavior for better.
  2. Pushing you slightly outside of your comfort zone - we learn very little when we are in our comfort zone. We need to stretch it. When you start speaking publicly, just going on stage is stretching your comfort zone. Bot after hundred presentation it starts being a routine. Then you should start doing new things like using your body or voice. Always stretch your comfort zone when you practice, because otherwise you are not learning.


Write your own to-learn list for your private and professional skills. You should split higher-level skills into smaller and more concrete. Check your list periodically. Practice those skills deliberately. Remember about pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and seeking feedback. Then cross out those skills you feel you learned enough. This strategy can offer you faster learning and development, and in long run effectively contributes to all the goals that require learning new skills or knowledge.

What do you think about the article?
Marcin The author of the Effective Kotlin and Android Development in Kotlin books, founder of the Kt. Academy and Learning-Driven, programming trainer, speaker at international conferences, experienced developer.
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