I was listening to The Tim Ferriss Show and he was talking about the framework he uses to learn.

He calls it DSSS.  Deconstruction.  Selection.  Sequencing.  And stakes.

Tim didn’t learn to swim until he was in his 30s.  There was shame and embarrassment associated with it for him and none of the regular methods had worked.  Then he found a system called total immersion that talked about deconstructing swimming into parts.  Just the breathing.  And then just the kicking.  And then just the arm movements.  Within a few weeks he was swimming.

Next is selection.  Tim said, “Selection, in effect, you’re using the 80/20 principles like Pareto’s law, to answer the question, what 20% of those Lego blocks deliver 80% of the results or more that I’m looking for? … In any language, you can take 2,000 words and be functionally conversationally fluent.  You can identify the highest frequency words.”  Using this method, Tim has learned how to speak multiple languages quickly.

Next is sequencing.  What order is the best way to learn in?  When Tim was in Argentina he learned how to tango and ended up competing in the world championships, making it to the semi-finals.  He was taught by a female teacher and learned the female part and the lead before he learned the male part.  This helped strengthen his understanding of the whole dance.  The order of learning the steps made a difference.

Finally, there is stakes.  The incentive.  What is in it for you if you learn something?  What motivates you?  Do you need to announce you are doing it to be held accountable?  Or bet with a friend?

Being curious and learning new things is what keeps us thriving.  Breaking bigger skills and problems down into smaller pieces can make understanding them easier.   As philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.”

What small piece of a skill can we learn today that will start a journey to help us flourish, meet new people and strengthen our knowledge?