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Upskill/Reskill Yourself Through Ultralearning

Upskilling or reskilling yourself is not just watching online videos and obtaining the current, hottest certifications.

You need a plan to help you learn smart and rapidly skill up. Those who learn the fastest move ahead the fastest. You must continuously keep learning to create even more value.

Knowledge has a shelf life — especially technical skills.

Using Ultralearning to Power Up Your Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

My wife was working on her second master’s degree and was taking library science classes online through the University of Pittsburgh. Once, she was scheduled to go to a week-long course on various software applications. However, a week before she was to leave, she told me she didn’t feel ready for the course.

She wanted my help cramming for the quizzes she knew she would face that week. So I helped develop an ultralearning plan to prepare her for the course. Thanks to the ultralearning program, she received the highest scores in the class for all the quizzes.

What is Ultralearning?

Ultralearning is a term coined by Scott H. Young in his book of the same name. He explains how he replicated an MIT undergraduate degree in computer science in six months by taking free courses offered by the university. As he explains, the Internet has made it easy to find educational content on almost any subject someone wants to study. The key is to approach your ultralearning with self-discipline and a learning plan.

The Nine Principles of Ultralearning

One – Draw Your Map: What subject do you want to learn while acquiring new skills? Why do you want to learn this new subject, and how will you use it? What do you already know about the topic to help you learn more skills?

Two – Sharpen My Knife: Learn in short time chunks with plenty of rest between. Your brain needs time to reflect and fit your new knowledge into what you already know.

Three – Realistic Practice: Practice the skills and knowledge as close to the actual conditions you will use your new behaviors.

Four – Reinforcement: Continuously drill on your new knowledge.

Five – Retrieval Practice: Imagine you are learning a new language. You reinforce your knowledge by studying flip cards of vocabulary terms. Retrieval practice is when you engage in conversations with native speakers.

Six – Use Feedback to Hone Your Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities: You decide to improve your cooking skills. You start by creating simple dishes for your friends and family. Based on their feedback, you know how to improve your cooking techniques while attempting even more elaborate recipes.

Seven – Improve Your Retention Abilities: Your brain loses information if you don’t reinforce your learning. One way to fight forgetting is regular reviews using spaced repetition. For more complex information, use encoding techniques such as chunking or mnemonics.

Eight and Nine – Intuition and Experimentation: These principles are where you take what you learned and extend it. You have mastered the new learning when you can experiment with your new knowledge, skills, and abilities.

You need to keep up with the latest trends in your chosen career if you want to grow and develop. What crucial knowledge, skills, and abilities will you need in the next year? Three years? Five years and more? Use the ultralearning techniques to help you master vital career skills now and in the future.

(The above is an excerpt from my upcoming book on career reinvention.)

Dr. Bill Brantley works in the U.S. Navy Inspector General Office as a Senior Training Specialist where he is leading the project to build the Office’s first learning portal for nearly 1,000 employees in the enterprise. He has been a program manager for the Emerging Leader Program and Supervisor Certificate Program at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He also managed the Executive Coaching and the Career Coaching Programs. Dr. Brantley was awarded the 2019 Emerging Training Leader by Training Magazine and is an IPMA-HR SCP, a Certified Professional in Talent Development, an ROI certified professional, a certified data scientist, and a Certified Professional in Training Management. He is a certified Project Management Professional, a certified agile project manager, a certified professional in business analysis, and is certified in Disciplined Agile. He has completed over 200 hours of coaching training from the Neuroleadership Institute, the American Confidence Institute, emotional intelligence coaching, and the Global Team Coaching Institute. Dr. Brantley is an adjunct faculty member for the University of Louisville (20+ years) and the University of Maryland (8+ years). He is the author of the “Persuasive Project Manager” (2019) and “Four Scenarios for the Future of the Federal Government” (2019).

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