This article originally appeared as an extended thread on Twitter. To receive daily thoughts, strategies, and comments then follow me over there.
In Support of Mentorship
What's going on in this photo, and what can it teach us?
The answer to both questions is: "Quite a bit."
💥A Thread on Learning, Intuition, and Non-Conscious Rationality.
There are all sorts of goofy contraptions like this one from the early 1900's like these two, too.
What are they for? Detecting aircraft.
Without radar how would you know the enemy was coming? Listen for it.
How do you hear farther out? Gather more sound!
Just like a bigger eyeball can gather more light, thereby improving night vision, these funnels can accumulate lots of very very quiet sounds which gets louder and louder as it gets pushed together deeper into the structure.
The "One Up, One Down" machine is a genius modification: by offsetting the funnels, it gives the listener a better idea of directionality and elevation.
When both funnels are side by side, with no off-set, then it's more difficult to get a read on how far from the horizon it is.
So that's what they are: aircraft listening devices that function as an advanced warning system.
But there's a problem. A huge one, actually, and it has to do with False Positives and False Negatives.
It's your job to listen for incoming aircraft. The sooner you hear it, the more time you'll have to scramble your own forces to intercept the incoming attackers.
What happens if it's friendly forces returning instead? Do you still scramble forces? If you do that, it's a waste.
But the cost of identifying enemy forces as friendly is even more costly.
In a war, especially a prolonged one, resources become a literal matter of life & death.
So what do you do?
Seems obvious, but almost impossible: Teach people what the difference between the two is!
Required Learning Outcome: Distinguish difference between the sound of friendly air forces and enemy forces.
Proposed Learning Methodologies:
- Written material
- On-the-mission experience
Will never work. How do you convey the nuances of ally engine sounds & enemy sounds through written word?
"The good ones sound like bbbbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, and the bad ones sound like bbbbrrrrraaaaapppppppp, now go save lives, son!"
"Ok, son, the good ones have a high range tonal frequency, and the bad ones have more low range pitch and that's all you need to do. When humidity is high, the extra moisture in the air means it conducts sound more efficiently, so increase your estimation of distance."
It's better than just the written version. You're at least getting first-hand input from someone who knows what they're talking about.
Sometimes also called "Trial by Fire." Learning on the job as you go.
Sometimes it's good, but again the cost of messing up is too high.
So what do you do? A combination of all of them, it turns out.
Turns out there were people who were naturally really good at it. They'd been in this world long enough that they could pinpoint all the details. They knew if it was friend or foe, how far away they were, etc.
Then they would teach someone who wasn't skilled.
Problem was, the people who listened to the advice of the expert couldn't reproduce the expert's results. They floundered.
It was no better than chance.
Until they switched up the training method with immediate feedback.
The Airplane Listening Padawan would make his guess, and the expert would either say "Yes" or "No." There would be no delay in guess and answer.
Also, there wouldn't be a lot of explaining why the Padawan was right or wrong; they were simply told yes or no.
The Padawan's accuracy would drastically improve, and it would happen very quickly, too.
When they started to improve, they would be asked, "Why did you say that one was friendly?"
They wouldn't be able to explain it in a rational way. They'd say something like "Felt friendly."
They couldn't give you a rational explanation for why it was one or the other, but they could perform the task as needed.
Turns out, humans are fantastic at pattern recognition. It happens on a level much deeper than your conscious awareness where logic & reason live.
Their non-conscious pattern recognition systems were being trained during the Guess/Feedback trials, and very quickly learned to associate the right stimulus with the right meaning.
💥💥💥Without the trainee ever being consciously aware of it happening.
They would develop an intuition they couldn't explain, but could use to great effect.
This is where most people fall into the hokum of "universal intuition" and spiritual divination which is WRONG.
It's an evolutionary survival skill.
When your sensory system perceives sounds that mean "predator," you don't need to explain why you know there's a predator. You simply use that intuition to RUN FAR AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN.
It's a logical process, but it's not a conscious one.
It's an emergent expression of pre-conscious processes, rather than the result of deliberation, logical reasoning, and measured consideration.
That's why your gut instinct is so murky, but dependable: it's relying on input you're never consciously aware of.
And, the best way to hone the effectiveness & reliability of your gut feelings is to have someone who already has the skill you want, make your guess, and have them give you immediate feedback.
This is impossible through books. This is impossible through lectures.
The ONLY way to train it is direct coaching and one on one attention with someone who has the skills.
This goes for proprioceptive awareness, auditory intuition, etc. Every single physical skill that translates to ideas or imagination.
Here's the fastest way to make that happen.
💥Read up on the subject so you understand the context of what you want to learn. Know the lexicon by heart. Know the terminology. Speak the language. Devour as much information as you can on your own. This primes the pump of learning.
💥Attend as many lectures on the subject as you can to get a living, breathing human being to impart their knowledge to you. This can take the form of YouTube videos, to some extent. But hearing & seeing it in action is a good start.
When you've done both of those, you've now done enough work on your own to make personal involvement of an expert worth their time.
If you showed up knowing nothing about the subject, what good would it do you or the expert for the expert to spend their time with you?
That's why the saying is true: Once the student is ready, the master will appear.
💥Get live feedback.
That's the fastest way to acquire a new skill. Whether it's social media marketing, Facebook ads, copywriting, juggling fire, Kung Fu, or learning how to ask people on a date.
Having an immediate "Yes, do more of that" or "No, never do that again" is so important.
Companies screw this up all the time. 6 month review? Please, it's 5 months, 30 days, 23 hours, and 59 seconds too late if you screw up.
Great management is a continuous feedback loop.
Learn, Guess, Learn, Guess, Learn, Guess, Learn, ad infinitum.
This is the true value of having a personal coach.
Sure, you could learn it on your own, but the time scale is going to be enormous. That's why elite performers have coaches.
Anyone successful has coaches.
And, yes, it's expensive. The service a coach provides is incredibly valuable, that's why.
You literally can't afford NOT to have 1:1 coaching.
Learn all the theory & ideas on your own, but to sharpen your skills? Train in person, man.
Personally, I experience this with martial arts.
I read about it all the time. I talk about it all the time. I think about it all the time.
But when do I learn?
When I'm throwing down with real human beings. There's nothing like the immediate feedback of getting punched.
When someone lands a shot, that tells me right away, "You done messed up A-A-RON!"
Living in the future is great. We have access to information 24/7. I have no clue where or when you're reading this. It's incredible.
But we still have human limitations that set boundaries on how best to develop your skills.
If you're frustrated with where you are, and you've done all the reading you can stand, and watched hours and hours of online video courses, maybe it's time to pony up for a coach.
It's going to be expensive, but wasting your time is even worse.
Put their ideas into practice & change your life.
But, when you're ready to turbo-charge your results, reach out to the person who you resonate with, and ask him how you could make it worth their time to coach you.
Maybe it isn't. Maybe they don't have the bandwidth. Maybe it's outside your current comfort zone.
But you'll at least be moving in the right direction.
Parting advice? Keep your ears open; you never know where you're going to hear inspiration.