Bruce Lee

Time to Think

I have a method for learning I call the think principle: think about what you are being taught and understand how to do it right, think and then do it right, do it right without thinking. I use these three steps as a guide for my learning process.

There are a variety of learning styles – visual (images), auditory (listening and speaking), read & write (reading and note taking), and kinesthetic (hands on) but they all follow this simple pattern of thinking. The difference is in how any one person receives the information they are learning and makes it part of their thinking pattern. I myself am a reading and note taking learner.

Ancient Roman Emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius placed great importance on thinking and said, “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”


Here are the three steps to learning unpacked and explained:

You start out not knowing. If you aren’t confused at first, then you don’t understand how complex learning is. You must remain open to the fact that every time you learn something new, you will need to take time to think about what you are learning. If you aren’t willing to have this level of discomfort than you won’t learn new things.

In 1913 Niels Bohr built the first model of electron orbitals on the hydrogen atom based on quantum theory. Bohr is quoted saying, If you aren’t confused by quantum mechanics, you haven’t really understood it.”

Then you start to know. Think about how you are going to accomplish the challenge, not why you can’t. Once you understand how something should be done, you must think through the process while you repeat what you learned again and again until it becomes second nature. Failing at this point is just one step away from success.

“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”– Zig Ziglar

Now that you know, you should go. Don’t overthink that which is simple, and don’t underthink that which is complex. The level of thinking involved in learning anything new is dependent upon the complexity of the task. At some point you have to trust that you can do it, and then just do it.

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” – Bruce Lee




The road to success is paved with mistakes

mistakes - Thomos edisonHave you ever see a toddler become a success learning how to use a spoon to feed themselves? It all starts with mistakes: Miss their mouth -> Spill, Closer to their mouth -> Spill, Spoon in the mouth -> Spill, Spoon in the mouth -> Success -> Success -> Success…Once the toddler perfects the method of using the spoon, they continue the same process with all current and new food. They forget the mistakes, and remember only how to be a success.

This is the same process we should follow in every new opportunity: Allow yourself to do it wrong before you learn how to do it right, then keep doing it right.

You have to try things that don’t work to find what does work. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

This works for individuals and it works for teams. Leaders make the environment where their team can try new ways to find what works.   When they do find what works, leaders focus on the success, not the mistakes that led them there. A large part of success comes from what you focus on. Since the leader sets the vision for achieving the purpose of the team, they also determine where the team will be focused. Bruce Lee once said, “What you habitually think largely determines what you ultimately become.”

The first company that launched the combo gas and convenience stores found that in their first year of operation more than half of the stores exceeded expectations while the rest fell short. The company assigned a team to analyze the results. They produced a list of all the reasons that the underperforming stores didn’t succeed. For the next year, the company focused on not making the mistakes on the underperforming store list. At the end of the second year, more than half of the stores fell short of expectations.

What happened? Why didn’t they improve?

They didn’t improve because the focus of the company was to avoid mistakes instead of achieving success. There were no celebrations of what did work, only reprimands for what didn’t. They didn’t know that the road to success is paved with mistakes.

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