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  • At the age of 10, Benjamin Franklin left formal schooling to become an apprentice to his father.

  • As a teenager, he showed no particular talent or aptitude aside from his love of books.

  • When he died a little over half a century later, he was America's most respected statesman,

  • its most famous inventor, a prolific author, and a successful entrepreneur.

  • What happened between these two points to cause such a meteoric rise?

  • Underlying the answer to this question is a success strategy for life that we can all

  • use, and increasingly must use.

  • Throughout Ben Franklin's adult life, he consistently invested roughly an hour a day

  • in deliberate learning.

  • I call this Franklin's five-hour rule: one hour a day on every weekday.

  • Franklin's learning time consisted of: Waking up early to read and write

  • Setting personal-growth goals (i.e., a virtues list) and tracking the results

  • Creating a club forlike-minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve

  • themselves while they improved their communityTurning his ideas into experiments

  • Having morning and evening reflection questions Every time that Franklin took time out of

  • his busy day to follow his five-hour rule and spend at least an hour learning, he accomplished

  • less on that day.

  • However, in the long run, it was arguably the best investment of his time he could have

  • made.

  • Franklin's five-hour rule reflects the very simple idea that, over time, the smartest

  • and most successful people are the ones who are constant and deliberate learners.

  • Warren Buffett spends five to six hours per day reading five newspapers and 500 pages

  • of corporate reports.

  • Bill Gates reads 50 books per year.

  • Mark Zuckerberg reads at least one book every two weeks.

  • Elon Musk grew up reading two books a day, according to his brother.

  • Oprah Winfrey credits books with much of her success: “Books were my pass to personal

  • freedom.”

  • Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot, reads two hours day.

  • Dan Gilbert, self-made billionaire and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, reads one to two

  • hours a day.

  • So what would it look like to make the five-hour rule part of our lifestyle?

  • To find out, we need look no further than chess grandmaster and world-champion martial

  • artist Josh Waitzkin.

  • Instead of squeezing his days for the maximum productivity, he's actually done the opposite.

  • Waitzkin, who also authored The Art of Learning, purposely creates slack in his day so he has

  • empty spacefor learning, creativity, and doing things at a higher quality.

  • Here's his explanation of this approach from a recent Tim Ferriss podcast episode:

  • “I have built a life around having empty space for the development of my ideas for

  • the creative process.

  • And for the cultivation of a physiological state which is receptive enough to tune in

  • very, very deeply to people I work withIn the creative process, it's so easy to drive

  • for efficiency and take for granted the really subtle internal work that it takes to play

  • on that razor's edge.”

  • Adding slack to our day allows us to: 1.

  • Plan out the learning.

  • This allows us to think carefully about what we want to learn.

  • We shouldn't just have goals for what we want to accomplish.

  • We should also have goals for what we want to learn.

  • 2.

  • Deliberately practice.

  • Rather than doing things automatically and not improving, we can apply the proven principles

  • of deliberate practice so we keep improving.

  • This means doing things like taking time to get honest feedback on our work and practicing

  • specific skills we want to improve.

  • 3.

  • Ruminate.

  • This helps us get more perspective on our lessons learned and assimilate new ideas.

  • It can also help us develop slow hunches in order to have creative breakthroughs.

  • Walking is a great way to process these insights, as shown by many greats who were or are walking

  • fanatics, from Beethoven and Charles Darwin to Steve Jobs and Jack Dorsey.

  • Another powerful way is through conversation partners.

  • 4.

  • Set aside time just for learning.

  • This includes activities like reading, having conversations, participating in a mastermind,

  • taking classes, observing others, etc. 5.

  • Solve problems as they arise.

  • When most people experience problems during the day, they sweep them under the rug so

  • that they can continue their to-do list.

  • Having slack creates the space to address small problems before they turn into big problems.

  • 6.

  • Do small experiments with big potential payoffs.

  • Whether or not an experiment works, it's an opportunity to learn and test your ideas.

  • For many people, their professional day is measured by how much they get done.

  • As a result, they speed through the day and slow down their improvement rate.

  • The five-hour rule flips the equation by focusing on learning first.

  • To see the implication of this, let's look at a sales call (note: you can replacesales

  • callwith any activity you do repeatedly).

  • Most professionals do a little research before the call, have the call, and then save their

  • notes and move on.

  • Somebody with a learning focus would think through which skill to practice on the call,

  • practice it on the call, and then reflect on the lessons learned.

  • If that person really wanted an extra level of learning, he or she would invite a colleague

  • on the call and have the colleague provide honest feedback afterward.

  • Embracing a learning lifestyle means that every time we make a sales call, we get better

  • at doing sales calls.

  • Focusing on learning un-automates our behaviors so we can keep improving them rather than

  • plateauing.

  • Every event is an opportunity to improve.

  • By focusing on learning as a lifestyle, we get so much more done over the long term.

At the age of 10, Benjamin Franklin left formal schooling to become an apprentice to his father.

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Why Constant Learners All Embrace the 5 Hour Rule

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    blackstone posted on 2018/11/29
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