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Ep 2: How To Learn Shamelessly

how to learn shamelessly

Why does learning matter? A lot of people feel ashamed about learning, especially when it doesn’t come easily. But instead of feeling ashamed, I have learned shamelessly, and it’s been absolutely life-changing and one of the foundational pillars of my success. In this episode I discuss how to do it, and the impact it can make in your life.

Press play to listen below!

Show Notes

My story

It may seem that learning was always a big part of my life because I was a full-fledged academic until I quit my tenured professor position in 2017 to run Sabbatical Beauty full-time. But learning and intelligence were a source of shame for me when I was growing up.

I grew up in Singapore, where education is extremely socially important, and the educational system is rigorous and punitive. At 12, all Singapore students need to take a national exam that ranks you and determines how competitive a school you’re allowed to attend and is seen as a mark of who you’re going to be in the future.

I did terribly.

I couldn’t continue in my prestigious school, and was socially shunned and disapproved of. It was a hurtful experience, and the trauma of that is what led me later on to pursue a PhD, just to show to the system that shamed me that I was intelligent and could still be successful.

From learning = shame, to shamelessly learning

When I decided I was going to learn shamelessly instead of feeling ashamed, I started to branch out into learning many different things… things I was actually really bad at! But I developed a thick skin about it and stuck with it until I became somewhat competent (like, for example, dance-inspired exercise classes!).

Being okay with being poor at something — and not being afraid of appearing that way to others — is what I mean by learning shamelessly.

Shame once kept me from learning. But the thirst for knowledge kept me going. I learn I could make mistakes, make blunders, forget, relearn everything, zone out, refocus, try again, keep at it. All of this is normal. What’s not normal is powering through the discomfort — that’s what will make you stand out from everyone else.

How to learn as quickly as possible

This technique is called active note-taking. Make sure you always take notes when you’re learning something, because just the act of doing so makes sure you’re engaged with the material.

When you’re taking notes, don’t write everything down. Listen for:

  • The main points
  • The secondary points that support the main point
  • Examples that illustrate these points

Then, as soon as you’re done, write a summary of what you’ve learned in complete sentences, as if you were teaching it to a friend.

This technique of active note-taking helps you (1) effectively remember what you’ve learned and (2) figure out the gaps in your knowledge.

I want to hear from you

Join the Sabbatical Beauty Facebook Group and share your experiences with active note-taking! I can’t wait to see you start learning shamelessly.



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