Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career

by Scott H. Young

Number of pages: 304

Publisher: Harper Business

BBB Library: Personal Success

ISBN: 978-0062852687

About the Author

Scott Young is a writer who undertakes interesting self-education projects, such as attempting to learn MIT's four-year computer science curriculum in twelve months and learning four languages in one year.


Editorial Review

When we hear the word ‘learning’, we think that there is something that has to do with education. Scott Young, in his book Ultralearning, discovered more about what the word ‘learning’ has from significance. He went deeper and reached insightful perspectives through which we’ll love to learn more, produce more, and adapt to whatever the workplace throws our way. Ultralearning offers nine principles to learn and master hard skills quickly. This is the essential guide to future-proof your career and maximize your competitive advantage through self-education.

Book Reviews

"InUltralearning, Scott Young lays out the fundamentals of helping you quickly learn and retain new skills and concepts. I recommend this book for folks interested in providing practical structure and guidance to independent learning, whether they be for work or leisure."

"The book Ultralearning teaches the reader how to learn better and get better results from what they are trying to learn. "Ultralearning is a strategy for acquiring skills and knowledge that is both self-directed and intense."I read this book more from the perspective of a teacher rather than a learner. I may use the concepts at some point to do my own ultralearning projects, but since I am creating content to teach people new skills, I'm looking for ways to make my content more engaging. I want to know the best ways to teach people and help them learn what I'm teaching."

"Ultralearning is “a strategy for acquiring skills and knowledge that is both self-directed and intense.” It is, in essence, the process of becoming an efficient autodidact. It is an approach that Young has put to the test by working his way through MIT’s computer programming curriculum on his own and by learning four languages in a year. Ultralearning is about becoming competent quickly at a particular skill."

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Wisdom to Share

Because this project was my own vision and design, it rarely felt painful, even if it was often challenging. The subjects felt alive and exciting, rather than stale chores to be completed. For the first time ever, I felt I could learn anything I wanted to with the right plan and effort.

Despite their idiosyncrasies, the ultra-learners had a lot of shared traits.They usually worked alone, often toiling for months and years without much more than a blog entry to announce their efforts. Their interests tended toward obsession. They were aggressive about optimizing their strategies, fiercely debating the merits of esoteric concepts such as interleaving practice, leech thresholds, or keyword mnemonics. Above all, they cared about learning. Their motivation to learn pushed them to tackle intense projects,even if it often came at the sacrifice of credentials or conformity.

Ultra learning isn't easy. It’s hard and frustrating and requires stretching outside the limits of where you feel comfortable. However, the things you can accomplish make it worth the effort.

Your deepest moments of happiness don’t come from doing easy things; they come from realizing your potential and overcoming your own limiting beliefs about yourself.

For those who know how to use technology wisely, it is the easiest time in history to teach yourself something new. An amount of information faster than was held by the Library of Alexandria is freely accessible to anyone with a device and an internet connection. Top universities such as Harvard,MIT, and Yale are publishing their best courses for free online. Forums and discussion platforms mean that you can learn in groups without ever leaving your home.

Doing hard things, particularly things that involve learning something new, stretches your self-conception. It gives you confidence that you might be able to do things that you couldn’t do before.

Natural talent exists and they undoubtedly influence the results we see. I also believe that strategy and method matter, too. Throughout this book, I will cover science showing how making changes to how you learn can impact your effectiveness. Each of the principles is something that, if applied appropriately, will make you a better learner regardless of whether your starting point is dull or brilliant.

But ultra learning isn’t a cookie-cutter method. Every project is unique, and so are the methods needed to master it. The uniqueness of ultra-learning projects is one of the elements that tie them all together. If ultra-learning could be bottled or standardized, it would simply be an intense form of structured education. What makes ultra-learning interesting is also what makes it hard to boil down into step-by-step formulas.

Not all ultra-learning projects need to be one of a kind to matter to the person doing them.

There’s no shame in going back and retooling your plan to make it fit your life better. Making this kind of adjustment is a lot better than giving up midway because your plan was doomed from the start.

Ultra-learning is a skill, just like riding a bicycle. The more practice you get with it, the more skills and knowledge you’ll pick up for how to do it well. This long-term advantage likely outweighs the short-term benefits and is what’s easiest to mistake for intelligence or talent when seen in others.

The goal of ultra-learning is to expand the opportunities available to you, not narrow them. It is to create new avenues for learning and to push yourself to pursue them aggressively rather than timidly waiting on the sidelines. This is not going to be a method suitable for everyone, but for those who feel inspired to use it, I hope it provides a start.