How Elon Musk Learns Faster And Better Than Everyone Else
Aug 31, 2016
<p><b id="docs-internal-guid-b646aca3-e15f-fd8d-ef19-6586de8f618c"></b></p><h5><span id="selectionBoundary_1472660509763_07033804348655304" class="rangySelectionBoundary">﻿</span>Entrepreneur and bestselling author Michael Simmons sheds light on how Elon Musk built four multibillion-dollar companies by his mid-40s — in four separate fields (software, energy, transportation, and aerospace)?</h5>
<p><b id="docs-internal-guid-b646aca3-e160-3865-9766-987babe0840a"></b></p><p>Conventional wisdom says that in order to become world-class, we should only focus on one field. Musk breaks that rule. His expertise ranges from rocket science, engineering, physics, and artificial intelligence to solar power and energy.</p><p><br/></p><p><b>Musk’s “learning transfer” superpower</b></p><p><br/></p><p>Elon Musk is also good at a very specific type of learning that most others aren’t even aware of — learning transfer.</p><p><br/></p><p>Learning transfer is taking what we learn in one context and applying it to another. </p><p><br/></p><p>This is where Musk shines. Several of his interviews show that he has a unique two-step process for fostering learning transfer:</p><p><b><br/></b></p><p><b>First, he deconstructs knowledge into fundamental principles</b></p><p><br/></p><p>We normally think by analogy—by comparing experiences and ideas to what we already know—but Musk says there’s a better way to innovate:</p><p><br/></p><p><i>“I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. [With analogy] we are doing this because it’s like something else that was done, or it is like what other people are doing. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there.”</i></p><p><br/></p><p>Research suggests that one technique is particularly powerful for helping people intuit underlying principles. This technique is called, “contrasting cases.”</p><p><br/></p><p>Here’s how it works: Let’s say you want to deconstruct the letter “A” and understand the deeper principle of what makes an “A” an A. Let’s further say that you have two approaches you could use to do this:</p><p><br/></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="color: #000000;background-color: transparent;"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/tS94A1hNaL4cNmmArhad6HtUws-Mi16aulEb8A1LiA1QGYFiMijWgFAnx_yzwlfkwiisUjsA8Il-tC_pQuYVfNvw3Ns23Stc5hgZoZHNQZIQT-8YZ_jXCfGiWHymtZdJS0o5yTit" width="624" height="213"/></span></p><p><span id="selectionBoundary_1472660011144_3000715366652309">﻿</span>Which approach do you think would work better?</p><p><br/></p><p>Approach #1. Each different A in Approach #1 gives more insight into what stays the same and what differs between each A. Each A in Approach #2 gives us no insight.</p><p><br/></p><p><b>Next, he reconstructs the fundamental principles in new fields</b></p><p><br/></p><p>Step two of Musk’s learning transfer process involves reconstructing the foundational principles he’s learned in artificial intelligence, technology, physics, and engineering into separate fields.</p><p><br/></p><p><b>Bottom line: It’s not magic. It’s just the right learning process</b></p><p><br/></p><p>As we build up a reservoir of “first principles” and associate those principles with different fields, we suddenly gain the superpower of being able to go into a new field we’ve never learned before, and quickly make unique contributions.</p><p><br/></p><p>“First principles” thinking allows you to innovate in clear leaps, rather than building small improvements onto something that already exists. Musk gives an example of the first automobile. While everyone else was trying to improve horse-drawn carriages, someone looked at the fundamentals of transportation and the combustion engine in order to create a car.</p><p><br/></p><h5>Thank you to <i>Michael Simmons </i>and <i>Medium.com</i> for providing the original article below.</h5>
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