You only learn when something is outside your mental models
When I am developing software I build an internal mental model of how I expect things to work. As I learn more I tweak that model - or if it is not working as I expect then I tweak the code to match the model I have. Over time that model grows and evolves.
In the book, "Hell Yeah or No", Derek Sivers states:
You really learn only when you’re surprised. If you’re not surprised, then everything is fitting into your existing thought patterns. So to get smarter, you need to get surprised, think in new ways, and deeply understand different perspectives.
I really like this. Paraphrasing, he is basically saying if something already fits the mental model you have then you are not learning - as it is already part of your model. It is only when something goes outside that model that you learn - i.e. you get to tweak or extend that model.
How can you extend the mental model you have of something?
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