01. Mindshift: Emotions, Learning & Generalization – Content [44]

Emotions of Learning

Fear, Stress, and Self-doubt(FSS) get in our way of learning. When you feel these FSS emotions within your body, your brain goes into fight or flight mode causing cognitive functions to just Shut Down. This primal response from the stone age saved human lives when faced with a tiger — hesitation meant the difference between life and death. However, when FSS shows up during learning, they are a hindrance. The secret to all of this is to realize that how you feel about something is a Choice; so why not choose powerfully?

“The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.”
– Will Smith, Movie: After Earth

Realizing that you have a choice, and deciding to make a powerful one about your feelings is really the greatest thing you can do to increase your learning capacity. This can happen at a blink of an eye. This process in making powerful choices can be as long or as short as you want it to be. Therefore,  my invitation is for you to stop feeding emotions that are not promoting your learning goals and as simple as a blink of an eye, you can decide to change your feelings to become empowering ones which increase your capacity for learning.

Here is a story from my life (Robert), the creator of this course.

It had been a long trip from China to the United States; about 15 hours and still counting. After landing and going through customs, I was tired or rather I felt tired (actually I slept most of the way through the flight). When I looked up after finishing through customs the sign stated: “9 minutes walk to airport terminal;” that was the last straw. My body ached, I was mad, tired and literally had no energy. Then it hit me! This is a great opportunity to practice what I preach. I had a choice about how to feel and in that millisecond, I chose to feel happy and alive! It had been a very successful trip. I made it home safely and had brought some great gifts for the family. After making that empowering choice, the 9-minute walk went by so quickly and I actually even had some fun making it back to my car. You see, knowing that I had a choice with my thoughts in this situation is powerful and therefore I can always decide to choose to be empowered.
– Your Lecturer on this Journey

Key points from the story:

  • Emotions are the biggest barrier to learning and are all about the choices that we make. This also goes for conversations that you have with yourself.

This also goes for conversations that you have with yourself.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – You’re Right.”
– by Henry Ford, American Industrialist
I have had many people tell me, “I’m not good at technology.” Why not replace that with, “I’m getting better at technology.” You can change your thoughts to take responsibility for your transformation.

Early in my teaching career, shortly after given a lecture on unsupportive self-talk, I would say to my students, I’m not good with remembering names.” Then one day I realized not only was that so against what I was teaching the students about choices but also was allowing myself to not take responsibility for that outcome. I decided to change that self-talk into “I am getting better at remembering names.” Once I made that shift, I started to get better with names.

Nowadays, I’m really good at it! Don’t get me wrong, even as I write this course, there is still a little trepidation about publicly stating this new mantra but the power is always in my court and I decide that I’m good with remembering names.

– Your Lecturer on this Journey

Key Points from the story:

  • Everyone has emotions and you can change them in the blink of an eye
  • Changing what you tell yourself impacts not only how you view things but also the actions that you take
  • Stories can be very powerful so why not create stories that help you reach your goals.

Learning to Learn How to Learn

Give someone a fish and
They eat for a day

Teach someone to fish and
They eat for a lifetime

Teach someone to Learn “how to learn to fish” and
Everything is possible!

– Lecturer Robert Joseph, Ph.D.

Now that you know that you have control over making powerful choices about how to feel during learning, you can tell yourself powerful internal stories that support your goals. The shift from things being hard/easy to learned/soon to be learned and you are now ready for one set of universal rules to learn anything from car mechanics to quantum physics to data analytics. You will become a universal learner. This shifts learning from a skill-based approach to process or meta-skills learning to keep up with technology at the speed of change.

Learning to Learn How to Learn (L3) is a key skill for the 21st century. Technology is changing so rapidly, people need a new paradigm shift in order to keep up. Here are the L3 steps, Learning to Learn How to Learn:

  1. Figure out what you are trying to learn and why?
  2. As you are learning, filter the information into its simplest context.
  3. Act quickly in doing something fun and relevant with the information you’ve learned.
  4. Figure out a process on how to get yourself out of learning gaps by the following:
    1. Identify what you know?
    2. Identify what you don’t know?
      1. Break operations down into smaller steps and test assumptions.
      2. As you verify assumptions refine your thinking.
    3. Develop a plan on how to learn what you don’t know.
  5. This may require that you repeat the above steps several times as you continue to learn and grow. You don’t always solve the problem in one step but sometimes small steps towards the goal continue to get you there until you have that eureka moment and it all falls into place.
  6. Become a continuous learner
Let me share with you how I once saved $200.

My washing machine started making a rumbling sound, “Whoop, Whoop, Whoop.” I had no idea what was going on and had never seen the inside of a washing machine. So first, I thought about what I knew it would cost me $200 to call a professional to fix the washer machine.  I also thought about what I didn’t know: what was going on with the washing machine.

So I needed to turn what I didn’t know into something I knew so I turned to Google. I didn’t just search, “my washing machine is broken,” I was specific and typed, “why is my washing machine making this rumbling sound.” There were several links, videos, and other information generated. The first article was not useful to me because it did not explain things in a way that I could quickly understand it. If that had been the only hit, then I would have given it more attention but there were other candidates that I could quickly look through to see if they made sense to me. The next link was a video and it was exactly what I needed. It told me what was going on and why. I had to replace some plastic parts.

Now that I understood what to do, it was execution time. That’s when I ran into the next problem: how to use a socket wrench to open the enclosure. This was trial and error. I have a socket wrench and a screw drive socket wrench. The socket wrench extension was not long enough for the socket wrench so I had to use the screw drive socket wrench and it worked. Yea Team Joseph! Most of the time, solving a real-world problem is an interactive process and this was no different. As each hurdle came up along the way I tackled that problem from the same perspective as the other: figure out what I knew and what I didn’t know.

Next, I went to the hardware store to get the part and of course, they did not have (not high volume item) it but did give me a number to call. I friendly customer hearing my situation told me that on the door of the washing machine is usually the machine and model number. I did not need that information at the time but did note what the person told me in case it would be useful later.

By the time I got home, it was late and when I went to call the number the store was closed. Being the person that I was I thought where else could I get a part from a store online. Hmm, what about Amazon. I probably needed the make and model of machine. I know where to find that. Did a search on exactly what I needed and found the part for $5 and would arrive the next day. I successfully installed the part and have been washing clothes every since with a big smile on my face having saved $195.

– Lecturer Robert Joseph, Ph.D.

Important parts to the story:

  1. Defined exactly what I did not know (defining the initial problem)
  2. Used different techniques to turn what I did not know into what I then knew (1. Google 2. trial and error for another 3. goal-directed information using amazon)
  3. I knew to solve the overall problem was an iterative process where more problems came up along the way. This did not cause me frustration because emotion is a choice and because I understood that with each step came the possibility of more unknowns opportunities to solve. (getting the socket off)
  4. As I acquired information about the washing machine I kept that information even if it did not appear relevant at the time (washing machine name and model number)
  5. I had a clear understanding of the goal which I kept in the forefront of my mind and so found alternatives to achieve the goal (order part from Amazon vs. a washing machine parts place). The goal was to get the part not to order it from the number the hardware store gave me.


Guess what, believe it or not, I am a professional stand-up comedian. Yes, people have paid me to stand in front of them and make them laugh.

When I first approach being a comedian I did not say I have never done this before. Keep in mind I was a professor for over 10 years so I was used to being in front of people speaking. I also watched a lot of comedy. So I looked at what I knew and what I did not know. What I did not know is how to build a joke. How to take a mundane story and make it interesting in a comedic way. So as a teacher my thought was, to take a comedy class and read several books on comedy (well I listen to several audiobooks).

As I studied comedy I did not look at how do I learn comedy but more so what are the principles of being funny. I took what I heard and generalized it. Comedy is about given the audience the unexpected. Leading them down one path and switching it up with a different path that they did not expect but makes sense. (I went to a restaurant with no prices on the menu. That was good because I had no money in my pocket – OK Seinfeld watch out). It all made sense to me.

So halfway through the class, I approached the instructor with the outline for a book. He said, “No way, I was thinking about writing a book.” So we co-authored a book together ( http://comicsplaybook.com ). The book is a set of techniques in the form of worksheets for taking a joke from concept to performance.

After finishing the first class, helping the instructor build a comedy 2 class and taking it twice, then doing a bunch of open mikes, I wanted to get paid for my new found hobby so I started a production company with a friend. We did a monthly show for a year and a half until I moved on.

The show and comedy, in general, has given me a great story to tell, some amazing learns from the experience and taught me how to take skills and information from one area and apply it to another. Generalization allows you to develop fast and master skills easily. That is my story and I am sticking to it.

– Lecturer Robert Joseph, Ph.D.

Important points to the story:

  1. Thought about and used my skills in one area to apply them to a new area
  2. Did not let negative talk creep into my learning
  3. Learned principals and organized my understanding of the subject matter on general ideas. This required me not just taking what the books and instructor told me but building out my own understanding of the subject matter. That is what allowed me to outline and co-author the book. Just because I have not done something does not mean that I can not organize how it works once I start understanding the principles.

Now let’s start our new adventure, continue to have fun and remember to choose powerfully!