Why would anyone be able to master many different fields so quickly and even succeed in all of them? While I just study one field, I don’t understand. We take the example of Elon Musk, he studied the internet and from there he was able to establish PayPal. Elon studied transportation science then he could create HYPERLOOP. Elon learned renewable energy and from there he was able to establish TESLA. Elon studied rocket science and he founded SpaceX. Recently, Elon even tried to master the science of biotechnology so that he could create NEURALINK. Incredibly, Elon Musk has broken through many barriers with his proven successful learning techniques not only once but many times. I wondered what Elon Musk’s way of learning was.
I came across an interesting article by Jack Daghe, who on his blog mentions yes has successfully identified the way Elon Musk learned. Jack mentions “Elon Musk’s Two Rules of Study”. The first rule is to construct a tree of knowledge and the second rule is to connect the branches of knowledge.
It’s true that Elon Musk is a genius, he’s even likely to be equated with Nicolas Tesla, Albert Einstein, to Isaac Newton. Elon has a different perspective on looking at problems than most entrepreneurs or innovators in general and of course, he reads hundreds of books, he also works with the best-in-class experts. But that’s not what makes Elon a great learner, his learning method is also not sophisticated enough, even the two rules earlier about how to learn faster can be applied by anyone, at any time, including you. Let’s start with the first rule.
The first rule, “Build a tree of knowledge”. In a conversation on Reddit, Elon discussed his approach to learning and the structure he uses and he said “It is important to see knowledge as like a semantic tree, make sure you understand the basic principles, namely the trunk and large branches before you get into the leaves or the details. “, If not then where will the leaves stick later ?. The point of this sentence is that we need to understand that not all knowledge is weighed with the same weight or importance. In terms of learning, there is a difference between the knowledge that hangs on the branch and the knowledge that makes up the base of the tree trunk. Elon Musk is an expert at understanding what is at the heart of every sector of the business he builds. Elon always starts with the basic principles that form the basis of knowledge (the trunk of a tree of knowledge) before moving on to the small parts of the branch (twig) or the leaves (detail/technical). Many of us do the opposite, we are busy learning technical facts while never fully understanding how or why they reconnect to the core (trunk). It makes our brains filled with a lot of insignificant knowledge that can even lead to thinking mistakes. For example, our learning pattern is like planting a tree with a trunk as big as a toothpick, but with many indistinct branches. This becomes natural when we try to put a new idea or idea into our brain which makes the tree collapse. If we want to learn something faster then we have to start with the knowledge that forms a solid tree trunk first. At first, it may be a little slower, but without a solid stem, we are unlikely to have a solid foundation that can support learning or other additional skills.
The second rule is “Connect the branches of knowledge”. This is how Elon was able to reach various sectors and finally be able to disturb the industry “overnight”. Elon started with solid roots and a solid trunk then when he began to expand his knowledge, he began to connect the branches and leaves of that tree with the branches and leaves of other trees. Elon never learns a random piece of information, everything he learns is linked back to a deeper and more solid foundation of knowledge. According to Jack Daghe, “most of us are not gardeners but we are collectors of twigs”. We walk in life collecting various information from various sources until our hands are tired of lifting this branch so that over time the collection of branches will only become a burden that hinders our lives. Elon Musk planted trees on fertile soil so that they grew into a dense and abundant center of learning. We are all capable of doing the same thing, we just need to follow two rules. Build the trunk of knowledge first then work tirelessly to make connections in the branches.