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Iker T.

@ikert75

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Albert Einstein
“The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”

@ikert75

The Five Step Approach for Tackling Complex Problems

hackernoon.com

Ask Questions

The right questions are at the heart of discovery. And one of the very first questions you should be asking yourself is “What assumptions can I challenge?”

The mere act of trying to discover what assumptions you and others are making can give you a new perspective on the challenge you're facing.

Discover the Core Problem

Go beyond the basic features being asked for and get to the heart of the problem.

Ask questions like: Who cares about this problem? Why is it important to them?

If there are no good answers to these questions, is the problem even worth working on?

Divide and Conquer

After you come up with a solution to your problem, take a close look at it.

Which pieces could be split into separate modules or components? Can any of those components provide value independently? If not, can any be tweaked so that they do provide independent value?

Let your Subconscious Work

After spending time researching your problem,  you’ll probably find yourself also thinking about it in your spare time. 

This is when all the different pieces you’ve been studying for so long can suddenly click together in a new way, giving you fresh insight.

Think about what would make a good MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for your problem.

Get creative in what you consider an MVP. Maybe showing random strangers at Starbucks a napkin drawing of your app’s layout would be good enough for example.

Shunryu Suzuki
"In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few."

How to foster ‘shoshin’ | Psyche Guides

psyche.co

Shoshin: The beginner's mind

Shoshin is the Japanese Zen term for a "beginner's mind' and refers to a paradox: The more knowledge you have on a subject, the more likely you are to close your mind to further learning.

  • Having an academic degree in a subject can lead people to overestimate their knowledge. Studies showed that graduate participants frequently overestimated their level of understanding.
  • Even feeling like an expert also breeds closed-mindedness. Research also showed that giving people the impression that they were relatively expert on a topic led them to be less willing to consider other viewpoints.

Intellectually humble people know more because they are open to new information and more willing to be receptive to other people's perspectives.

Approaching issues with a beginner's mind or intellectual humility can help you become more knowledgeable, less overconfident, and more willing to engage with others.

Most of us overestimate our understanding of various subjects, known as the 'illusions of explanatory depth.' When you make an effort to explain a relevant issue or topic to yourself or someone else in detail, it will reveal the gaps in your knowledge and expose the illusion of expertise.

This exercise can be simplified by spending a few seconds reflecting on your ability to explain a given issue to a real expert in a step-by-step manner.

Confirmation bias is a major hurdle to being open-minded: We seek information supporting our current views and beliefs.

We can overcome this bias by being aware of it. We can take steps to work against it by actively pursuing information and perspectives that contradict our current position.

If we see intelligence and aptitudes as pliable rather than fixed, we can learn better.

A series of studies showed that intellectually humble people also tended to have a growth mindset. If you see intelligence as something you can develop, then finding holes in your knowledge opens up new opportunities for education.

Deliberately invoking the emotion of awe quietens the ego. It also creates a greater willingness to look at things differently while recognizing the gaps in one's knowledge.

Invoking the emotions of awe and wonder, such as looking at the aurora borealis, also reduces the need to be satisfied by closed arguments.

In the 1970s, social scientists coined the term "credentialism". It is an ideology that puts formal education credentials above other ways of understanding human potential and ability.

Credentialism is again entering the higher education debate as academics and the wider public try to make sense of the current university system.

Explainer: what is credentialism and is a degree more than just a piece of paper?

theconversation.com

  • Students are unsure if their degrees are worth the high tuition fees.
  • University academics bemoan the factory style teaching system.
  • Online learning and the growth of accredited university certificates through MOOCs (massive open online courses offer alternatives) offer an alternative.

While these issues are important to debate, they ignore the fundamental value of credentials in the workplace.

  • A university degree is now considered to be the ultimate status symbol for entry into the middle classes across the world. It is a basic requirement for any professional occupation.
  • Certificates are not meaningless. There is still a so-called graduate premium in economic terms because employers value the added skills.
  • In social terms, a university degree provides non-market benefits that are difficult to measure, including longer life expectancy, more leisure time, social mobility, and lower propensity to commit crime.

The concept of credentialism can be a type of class prejudice.

We need to ensure that university is more than a rite of passage coming together in a piece of paper. It is the role of the academic profession and higher education institutions to shape worthwhile learning. However, higher education is vulnerable to abuse without regulation, such as buying fake nursing degrees that can lead to tragic outcomes. A formal qualification should be a representation of something more important.

Confusing worry with problem-solving

Worry is defined as a negative thinking pattern about unresolved and fearsome issues that could have serious consequences.

In life, we all have problems. But sometimes, when we are trying to use our energy to focus on solving these problems, we direct our energy to worry.

Are You Problem-Solving, or Just Worrying?

psychologytoday.com

Research shows that when asked why people worry, many say it's because they are trying to solve problems. Another study found that people believe worry is necessary to find the best solutions.

Recognising the difference and moving away from worry can help to solve your problems efficiently.

Just thinking about our problem can make us feel anxious.

It causes us to worry about the issue instead of focusing on the problem objectively. Worry also feels productive. But mulling over possible outcomes (mostly the bad ones) won't get us anywhere.

While anxiety is normal when you first identify a threat, it's not helpful when you're trying to solve a problem.

  • Worrying makes us feel bad, that can cloud our judgment.
  • When we worry, it takes a lot of mental effort to stop focusing on the threat and shift to goal-directed thinking.
  • When you're thinking about an issue, do you feel tense, distressed, and upset?
  • Are you spending your time focusing on how bad the outcomes could be?
  • Do you immediately dismiss all your solutions as ineffective?

If you answered yes to these questions, you might be worrying.

There is no such thing as "good worry". Instead of worrying, try to do the following:

  • When you want to focus on the problem, do so in an open-minded, calm, and non-judgmental way.
  • Define the problem.
  • Identify your ultimate goals.
  • Remember to think positive.
  • If you find yourself steering toward negative thinking, try to let those thoughts go, and refocus your mind on the problem.
The Art Of Studying: Revision

During studies, how we revise what we have learned is a personal preference, which we incorporate after trial and error and what feels intuitive or effective to us.

According to research, the popular revising methods like rereading, highlighting and summarizing don’t seem to work as effectively as previously thought.

How To Study: 3 Popular Revision Techniques You Should Avoid

aliabdaal.com

  • Rereading: A widely followed method of passively studying again what is already studied, rereading has been proven to be ineffective and inefficient.
  • Highlighting: Another popular method is proven by the study to be a mere ‘safety blanket’, and may hinder our learning by disconnecting certain aspects of information, due to us paying attention to only the highlighted stuff.
  • Summarizing: Making notes seems to be an extremely reliable revision method, but is proven to be partially effective for people who are skilled in the art of summarizing information, and not for others.

Active recall and self-questioning (Quiz Mode), which trains the brain to fetch information, are the best way to retain the study material and form connections.

Say it out loud

Learning and memory benefit from active involvement. When you add speaking to it, the content becomes more defined in long-term memory and more memorable.

These 10 Scientific Ways to Learn Anything Faster Could Change Everything You Know About Dramatically Improving Your Memory

inc.com

Most of us can type very fast, but research shows writing your notes by hand will allow you to learn more.

Taking notes by hand enhances both comprehension and retention.

Studying over a period of time is more effective than waiting until the last minute.

Distributed practice works because each time you try to remember something, the memory becomes harder to forget.

Regularly testing yourself will speed up learning. When you test yourself and answer incorrectly, you are more likely to recall the right answer after you look it up. You will also remember that you didn't remember.

Repeating anything over and over might not be the best way to master that task. If you practice a slightly different version, you will learn more and faster. For example, if you want to master a new presentation:

  • Rehearse the basic skill. 
  • Wait at least six hours to allow your memory to consolidate.
  • Practice again, but speak a little faster. 
  • Practice next by speaking slower.
  • Break your presentation into smaller steps. Master each chunk, then put it back together.
  • Change the conditions. It will prepare you better for the unexpected.

According to research, regular exercise can improve memory recall.

Exercise also increases a protein (BDNF - brain-derived neurotrophic factor) that supports the function, growth, and survival of brain cells.

When you sleep, most of the consolidation process occurs.

In contrast, sleep deprivation can affect your ability to commit new data to memory and consolidate any short-term memories.

Interleaving - studying related concepts or skills in parallel - improves your brain's ability to differentiate between concepts or skills. It helps you to really learn and gain an understanding at a deeper level.

Instead of focusing on one subject during a learning session, learn several subjects or skills in succession.

Research shows that those who teach, speed up their learning and remember more.

Even just preparing to teach means that you will seek out key points and organize information into a coherent structure. 

When you have to learn something new, try to associate it with something you are already familiar with. Then you only have to learn where it differs. You'll also be able to apply greater context, which will help with memory storage and retrieval.

Strategies speed readers use
  • Skimming: quickly going through passages to find the main points.
  • Meta guiding uses a pointer, such as your index finger or a pen, to guide your eyes along the lines of text.
  • The vision span method uses the span of human eyesight to read words in batches.
  • Rapid serial visual representation (RSVP): an electronic reading system displays words one at a time.

How to Read the Right Way: A Complete Guide

medium.com

Regardless of which reading method you use, the evidence points towards the fact that speed comes at the sacrifice of understanding.

Depending on what you’re reading, this might not necessarily be a bad thing: If you’re trying to get through a dry piece to capture a few key points or you are going through a short piece that’s easy to understand, speed reading strategies might make sense.

  1. Choose different reading pieces for different occasions: articles and light reads can be reserved for short periods. Books that require less focus can be listened to in audio format etc.
  2. Incorporate reading into your daily habit: put a book on your bedside table.
  3. Share your reads with others, to help you to better understand and appreciate what you read.
  4. Reflect on your reading: take notes or check out films that are based on novels (to compare interpretations).

Combining paper and digital tools for personal organization and productivity. You need:

  • The main notebook, the backbone of the entire methond. You capture everything here: quick ideas, tasks, sketches.
  • A “traveling” notebook: Jot down quick notes, then transfer those notes to your main notebook later.
  • A digital task list/calendar: At the end of the day, go through your main notebook and add any tasks or events.
  • Long-term digital storage: to digitize the most important items from your main notebook.

Use The Medium Method to Combine Digital Note-Taking With Pen and Paper

lifehacker.com

Long-term success

We often think that we need to have talent and confidence before we can accomplish something.

In reality, talent is often overrated. It is small accomplishments that lead to confidence.

The Most Important Mindset for Long-term Success

sparringmind.com

People with a fixed mindset think intelligence, character, and creative potential are unchangeable attributes that come from birth. They also assume that success is the result of this inherent talent. They tend to avoid failure to avoid looking fallible.

People with a growth mindset do not look at failure as a reflection of their ability, but rather as a starting point for testing ideas.

Research shows that praising a child for their intelligence can be detrimental as they face obstacles differently. Instead, praise your child for their effort.

When you believe in innate ability, then you feel you have to prove yourself over and over. Any sort of difficulty creates a desire to give up to keep your "smart" persona intact.

Talent truly matters in two ways:

  • As a head start in the race to mastery. Those who are willing to work hard can still pass you by, therefore the saying: "Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard."
  • In edge cases. For the best of the best, talent matters more. Talent adds that little extra that takes their hard work to the peak of performance.

The key to developing a growth mindset is to "fake it until you make it." It results in small wins, which will lead to real confidence.

Start with focusing on small wins by changing your habits. Make daily "micro quotas" such as 10 minutes of working out a day. Once your habit is established, scale it. Over time, this creates a growth mindset - a passion for learning instead of a need for approval.

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Good and effective things are helpful at one level but when taken too far, can be destructive.

In 1946, Sir Alexander Fleming, a renowned microbiologist, stated that antibiotics (like penicillin) were so effective that it will be abused by the masses, resulting in bacteria mutating and becoming drug-resistant. His prophecy came true, and this new, mutated bacteria is a reality.

Good Things Taken Too Far

collaborativefund.com

  • In the field of investing, Contrarians take the opposite view, akin to cynicism, and think of the collective mainstream view as a kind of mass delusion.
  • Occasionally, a contrary view is welcome, but if it is done every time, then the good times when one has to simply ride the wave are missed, leading to bitterness.
  • A positive attitude has the power to change our thinking and facilitate good things in our lives. Optimism surely beats pessimism as a worldview, when one has to pick a side.
  • Too much optimism turns into a delusion and eventually complacency. One starts getting out of touch with reality and lives in the mode of denial.
  • As truth is complicated in this day and age, being open-minded takes us out of the bubble we develop around us, based out of our good and bad life experiences.
  • Being too open-minded robs us of our basic checks and balances, making us get lost in a rabbit hole full of contradictions.

One has to take a firm stand on their views to make concrete decisions.

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