The author Robert Heinlein famously said: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
Compelling as that sounds, why do so many of us fall short of that kind of ideal, and cease to learn new and different skills in our adulthood? My guest would say it’s because we approach learning the wrong way. His name is Robert Twigger, and he’s the author of Micromastery: Learn Small, Learn Fast, and Unlock Your Potential to Achieve Anything.
Today on the show, Robert makes the case that we often fail to learn new things because we feel we have to learn the whole field of a subject, which is overwhelming, tedious, and de-motivating. A better approach, he says, is to first master just one distinct skill that’s part of said subject, or what he calls a micromastery. We discuss what micromasteries are, why they keep you motivated to continue learning in that field and in general, the benefits of lifelong learning, and why specialization is indeed for insects. We also discuss what the punk rock scene of decades ago can teach you about tackling new skills. We end our conversation with Robert’s use of omelette making as a case study in micromastery.
- What is a micromastery?
- What is the “entry trick”? Why is it important?
- The “Rub-Pat” barrier and how to move past it
- How to find the micromastery in anything
- How to make yourself a researcher for whatever you’re trying to learn
- Why learn a bunch of disparate skills that aren’t seemingly connected?
- The inherent pleasures of learning
- Why specialization is boring
- How to ward off cognitive decay
- What punk rock can teach us about micromastery
- How to master the omelet
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- Learning How to Learn
- How and Why to Become a Lifelong Learner
- How to Make the Perfect Omelet
- How to Bench Press
- Cool Uncle Tricks
- To Succeed in Work and Life, Be Mr. T
- Ernest Hemingway as a Case Study in Living the T-Shaped Life
- Why Generalists Triumph in a World of Specialists
- How to Split Wood
- Business for Punks by James Watt
- “Learning How to Learn” Coursera course
Connect With Robert
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