#131: How To Speed Up Learning with Deconstruction


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Why do great inventors, business people, and a ton of smart people have in common?

They have many traits, but one specific trait is the ability to crack a problem. When everyone else has given up, these people are able to figure out what no one has done before.

How do they do it? This article shows you how to increase your learning speed by using deconstruction. It shows you how to crack puzzles that seemed too difficult by others.'


In this episode Sean talks about

Part 1: Where to start your learning journey Part 2: How to find learning patterns when there's no one to help you Part 3: How to stack the layers and accelerate your learning

To read it online: https://www.psychotactics.com/speed-learning/


How to deconstruct complex topics (and accelerate your learning)

What can a single video on YouTube contain?

If you were to look at just six minutes of a NASA video, it might put you off ocean currents forever. In exactly six minutes, the contents of the video contain some of the following:

◦ Atmospheric circulation ◦ Wave formation ◦ Thermohaline circulation ◦ Upwelling and nutrient distribution ◦ Dead zones ◦ Sea surface height ◦ Shifting rain patterns ◦ Population density

That's only the partial list of what's included in the video, and it hits you with rapid succession

If you're confused, you ought to be, because the video is approximately how we approach most topics. A topic, any topic, is incredibly complex. However, the complexity can be quickly deconstructed.

That is to say; you can learn a skill or teach someone a skill reasonably rapidly if you're able to break apart the concepts into smaller bits? The question is: where do you begin? What does deconstruction involve? And how do you know you're going about deconstruction the right way?

To understand deconstruction we need to look at three elements:

– Where to start your journey – How to find patterns when there's no one to help you – How to stack the layers as you go forward

So where do we start our journey?

Deconstruction always starts with a choice. But what do you choose? Let's find out.

Part 1: Where to start your journey of deconstruction

A tonne of gold costs about $64.3 million in today's prices.

Indians are reputed to own 22,000 tonnes of gold. That's a staggering $1 trillion dollars in gold in a single country. Gold bars and coins are almost alway bought at festivals when buying gold is said to bring luck to the buyers. But the real obsession for gold stems from wedding jewellery. Weddings alone account for 50% of the demand every year.

And in South Mumbai, if you wanted to buy gold, you'd head to a particular area called Sonapur.

“Sona” is the Hindi word for gold and in Sonapur, you'd see dozens of gold merchant stores crammed back to back in a specific area. Now bear in mind that Mumbai is a big city that spans 603.4 square kilometres. Yet, someone looking for jewellery, and particularly gold jewellery would know exactly where to go.

We have no such specifics when we're dealing with a vast and complex topic

Should we start with wave formation or thermohaline circulation? Upwelling, dead zones or nutrient distribution? Or should we wander right into sea surface height, instead? It's clear that we need to start somewhere and the best way to get started is to pick subject matter at random.

Random? Surely that doesn't seem to be a systematic way to go about deconstruction

Let's pick “dead zones” from our list above, shall we? It's a pretty random pick considering how much material the six-minute video covers. However, as we dig into the topic, one thing becomes very clear. It's easier to dig deeper into “dead zones” and see how they occur. In under a minute, this video talks about how we get to mass extinction by focusing on a single topic.

Deconstruction becomes clearer when we move into areas we're more familiar with

Let's take a sales page or landing page, for instance. A landing page has headlines, subheads, first paragraphs, problems, solutions, objections, uniqueness, bullets—the list goes on and on. To be intimidated by such a vast amount of moderately unfamiliar information is difficult to cope with. So we go into “random mode”.

We pick something—anything—so that we can get going. Let's ignore the vast majority of the page, and head for the bullets, instead.

What do you notice when you look at the bullets below?

– How to assemble all the elements a customer needs to see to buy – Why template based construction is key to pain-free landing pages – Why “How to, how, and why” are your best friends in bullet points – How to use sequence graphics to keep your reader on the page – Why Bonuses need graphics for maximum impact – How to write bullets that sell even if you can’t write – How to avoid ineffective graphics – How to construct power testimonials even for a new product – Why FAQs are the place for “fussy” objections – Why the target profile is central to growing your tribe

paDidn't find a pattern?

Well, let's look at it another way, shall we?

– How to assemble all the elements a customer needs to see to buy – How to use sequence graphics to keep your reader on the page – How to write bullets that sell even if you can’t write – How to avoid ineffective graphics – How to construct power testimonials even for a new product

– Why FAQs are the place for “fussy” objections – Why Bonuses need graphics for maximum impact – Why template based construction is key to pain-free landing pages – Why “How to, how, and why” are your best friends in bullet points- Why the target profile is central to growing your tribe

You noticed the HOW and WHY this time around, didn't you?

If you're looking at the entire landing page, you're unlikely to notice the pattern even if someone helpfully placed it in the HOW and WHY format. You'd be focusing on too large an area, and it's close to impossible to deconstruct your subject matter when the area is too vast. Instead, you need to look at all the components available and choose just a tiny area, just like Sonapur, where the gold jewellery is sold. If the entire map of Mumbai were your sales page, Sonapur would represent the “bullets”.

When I was learning badminton many years ago, my coach taught me how to win points consistently

My badminton days are a bit of history now, not so much because I'm getting older, but more so because I'm one of those crazy people you see on the court. You know the type, don't you? They lunge at everything. And all of that lunging and diving just to win the point ended up with a tonne of muscle pulls and strains. Being the super-competitive person I am, I hired a coach to help me win points without having to lunge about so much.

But you see the problem looming, don't you?

Where do you start? The coach started randomly, getting me to focus on the grip. You can try it yourself, even if you don't have a handy badminton racket around. Squeeze your fingers together as if gripping a racket, while moving your hand forward.

Immediately there's a tension in the shot causing the shuttlecock to go back faster over the net. Avoid the squeeze and attempt to hit the same shot, and the shuttlecock goes a lot slower, thus dropping short of the opponent. By focusing on a subtle component of the entire game, the coach was able to get me to practice the grip, and that alone helped me win a few extra points in every match.

Every topic has multiple layers that make up the whole

The reason why we get confused and are unable to decipher, let alone master the topic is that we try and take on the entire 604 square kilometres of real estate instead of focusing on a single area. But what if you focus on a single area, but still can't see the pattern?

What if there's no coach around to show you the grip? No one around to helpfully move the bullets around and demonstrate how HOW and WHY play a pretty significant role in bullet construction? How do you go about seeing the pattern yourself?

Part 2: How to find patterns when there's no one to help you

How do you pronounce S-A-K-E?

If you said “Sah-kay” you're right.

If on the other hand, you said “sah-key”, you've failed to see the pattern. In almost every phonetic language the letter “e” creates an “eh” sound. So when you read the word “karaoke”, you don't say, “carry-oh-key”, but “kara-oh-keh” instead.

Once someone points out the pattern, it's easy to correctly pronounce words in phonetic languages such as Maori, Spanish or Japanese. But what if no one reveals the pattern? In such a scenario, you'd miss the sound of “eh” and instead use “e”, instead. How do you find patterns when there's no one else to help you?

Let's try it now.

How do you say K-A-R-A-T-E? And how about S-H-I-I-T-A-K-E?

You have it down pat, don't you? Kara-teh and Shee-ta-keh.

And no matter how many Japanese words you ran into from now on, you'd know that the “e” is all about “eh”. This tiny bit of information may make sense by itself, but it's when you see the profusion of the words that have “e”, that you realise how many words you're likely to pronounce incorrectly.

What you might not have noticed is that you've worked out the pattern

For deconstruction, the first phase involves taking a tiny piece of the pie, as it were and focus on that piece. However, unless someone points out the pattern, you may not see it right away. The moment you take many examples of that very same pattern, you start to get a clear understanding.

If we go back to the landing page example, for instance, you might not see the HOW and WHY so clearly on one landing page. After all, there are many ways to write bullets and copywriters take care to see they intersperse different types of bullets in an entire set.

Even so, if you were to go from one landing page to another, and keep at it, you'd see a pattern in an incredibly short period. Try it yourself. Go to about 5-7 landing pages on the Psychotactics site alone, and you'll start to see the pattern of HOW and WHY wherever bullets appear.

But there's an additional bonus in going through many examples

Once a pattern registers, you are likely to see other patterns as well. For instance, a bullet can be written in a very simple way, or it can be embellished to go a bit further. Let's take an example.

How to prepare the room before the presentation

How to prepare the room before the presentation (even if it's already been set up earlier). How to prepare the room before the presentation (and make sure nothing goes wrong).

We added two other elements in the bullets and you'd notice if you went through a whole set of them

We emboldened those bullets with “and” or “even”. As you go through an entire set of bullets, page after page of nothing but bullets, the secrets of bullets reveal themselves to you. It's approximately how you go about deconstructing just about anything, even when there's no precedence.

For instance, during James Hutton's time, the world was thought to have a fixed creation date

Apparently on Saturday, October 22, 4004 BC, the world was created, or so it was taught around the time of James Hutton. Hutton is called the “father of modern geology” because he came up with the fundamental understanding of geology as we know it today. Hutton was curious about how the earth was formed. The religious texts of the day were pretty clear.

The earth was 6000 years old according to Archbishop James Ussher of Ireland. And that was that—no further discussion was allowed on the topic. Hutton wasn't exactly convinced and he set about his journey of deconstruction.

Hutton's moment of discovery came indirectly because of his whisky and his women

In 1747, Hutton was a young medical graduate, who got drunk and the ladies got too much of his attention. He managed to get his lover Miss Eddington pregnant. The scandal that erupted saw her being rushed off to London to give birth.

Hutton's family too needed to limit the damage to their reputation and he was forced to leave Edinburgh and go off to a small family farm in Slighhouses, Southern Scotland.

It was there that he saw the top soil run off and go downstream

If the land were always going to be eroded, there would be no topsoil and crops couldn't be grown; which in turn would cause people to starve over time. Hutton couldn't buy that the earth would be stripped away to nothing. Working in isolation, he rejected the world view at the time and needed to figure out how new land was formed.

And then on his form his great idea about “how new land could be created.”

Hutton's examples were cliffs. Around his farm were dozens, hundreds of cliffs. In the exposed parts of the cliffs, he'd have noticed the bands of rocks, laid down like layers one on top of the other, and at different times.

He'd figured out how rock was formed like no known person had done before his time. Sedimentary rock that's taught in school these days was revolutionary back in Hutton's time. How did he do it? He looked at example after example until the rock gave away its secrets.

Surely you and I could look at rock all day and the only result would be a big headache at the end of the day

But let's stop to think about deconstruction for a second. You could take apart quite a few things in your house or office today. Over time, and with a little bit of persistence, you'd work out how it was built. The more examples you deconstruct using the very same, or similar product, the more likely you'd be to recognise its structure.

While it may seem that some people are incredibly intelligent at deconstructing and reconstructing concepts, they're probably just as bright as you. The brain works solely through pattern-recognition. If you find enough examples to work with them, and you get working on those examples, the ideas reveal themselves to you over time.

There's no doubt a bit of luck involved

Luck plays as big, if not a larger role than hard work, but to deconstruct just about anything you need time and persistence. And lots and lots of examples. It's hard to believe that you, me, anyone of us can deconstruct, but you can look through historical or even modern times and find not tens of thousands, even millions of examples of people who achieve many deconstruction goals every single year.

Nothing is quite as good as a good teacher

A teacher's job is to reduce the learning curve and make you smart, smarter than the teacher himself. Even so, you can be your own teacher if you start with Phase one and isolate a tiny part of the big puzzle. When you get to Phase two, you'd need lots of examples, possibly hundreds, before a pattern clearly starts to emerge.

Sake, karate, karaoke. That's a pattern.

Writing bullets. That too is a pattern. Figuring out how the Earth regenerates itself, yes that is a pattern as well. Which then takes us to our last phase: reconstruction. Or how to stack the layers as you go forward.

Let's find out how it's done.

Part 3: How to stack the layers going forward

In late October 2016, I gave a presentation at the WeArePodcast conference.

The presentation wasn't about how to grow your audience or monetise your podcast. Instead, the presentation was about the elements of telling a story. For weeks before the event, I struggled with the presentation, and the reason I was so conflicted was due to the length of the presentation.

I had just 30 minutes or so to get the point across.

How do you take a lifetime of storytelling and encapsulate it in a 30-minute module?

You don't. When you deconstruct or reconstruct, the goal should be exactly the same. It's always meant to take a tiny piece of the information you have on hand and then go deep. I happened to talk about the elements of a story in that presentation, but if I were making a presentation on how a dead zone shows up in the ocean, I'd use the very same principle. And that's what you should do too as well.

Instead of taking on the entire subject matter, take on a tiny slice

If you were presenting about dead zones in the ocean floor, you'd probably cover three elements.

1: The ocean conveyor belt 2: The role of cold water currents and warm water currents 3: How dead zones occur

Granted, this is a tiny part of what you're likely to know about thermohaline circulation and the ocean conveyor belt, but it's enough. And how do you know it's enough? There's a precise benchmark to know when you're overcooking your information. That benchmark is the ability of the audience or readers to recall the information.

If you overdose them with information, they'll recall parts of it, but not all

Information that's just re-constructed just right usually allows the client to remember the entire sequence without too much prodding. And covering just three points, even when you have a thousand to cover is usually a good way to go about things.

Three points force you to constrain yourself and go deep into your content. For instance, many podcasts on the Three Month Vacation covers about 4000-5000 words, yet they only cover three points. This article might go well into 4000-5000 words, but it only covers three points. It's likely that the person reading this information may not be able to recall the three points instantly, but give them a summary and it all comes flooding back.

And that's how you know your reconstruct is goody-yum-yum

At Psychotactics, we do this reconstruct at our workshops. Take for instance the workshop we had on Landing Pages in Queenstown, New Zealand. It was a three-day workshop, and on the very last day, I got the group to summarise what they had learned. If you've done a solid job, you'll see their eyes, not the top of their heads.

No one will be looking down at their notes scrambling to remember what was taught. Instead, they'll be looking right at you, reassembling the information just the way it was given to them. This technique is also easy to use when making a presentation to a live audience. You can have 200, 500 or a 1000 people in the audience going through the sequence of what you've just taught them. And that's the real feedback—when the audience can remember it all.

So do you remember what you just learned? Let's see. What did we cover?


– Where to start your journey of deconstruction – How to find patterns when there's no one to help you – How to stack the layers as you go forward

The journey needs to start with a small slice. Instead of taking on a big topic, go down to one tiny part. Want to take apart the car? How about holding back a little and then taking apart just the wheel, instead? If you have someone to help you; a teacher; a guide, then that speeds up the learning process.

But what if you have no one?

What if you're like James Hutton and you're faced with the prospect of doing something no one has done before? In such a case, and in every case, really, you should be looking at a tonne of examples.

Examples help you understand the same problem, see the same patterns from many angles. You may or may not hit the jackpot of how to write bullets on a landing page, but if you look at dozens of examples of bullets, you'll find the so-called secret will reveal itself to you.

Finally, when it comes back to the reconstruct, it's just as important to realise that you have to be a bit stingy with your topics. Instead of covering half a dozen topics, just cover three main topics and go really deep.

You know you're not overdoing the information because the audience can easily recall what you've told them without needing to look at their notes. Even 4000-5000 words later, the reader or listener should be able to remember the points you've covered and pass them on to someone else without too much of a problem.

And that is the short and exciting journey of deconstruction.

Now it's time for some sake, eh? Do you know: Focus can cause a massive blindspot in our business.So what's the option? Surely it can't be distraction? Actually it's a mix of both that's required. Using the concept of “spinning plates”, you can avoid the blind spot of success and the mindlessness of distraction. How Success Causes A Blind Spot And Creates A Rip Van Winkle Effect


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