I had a conversation with Ashley this week about how a person best learns. She recently realised that she learns best from reading written information. If she listens to a podcast or an audiobook, it’s definitely entertaining but she ends up losing the information unless she reads something to go with it. This piqued my interest because I’ve known for a while that I’m an ‘audio’ learner. I find it a lot easier to remember things and learn if I hear it, either through conversations, podcasts, or audiobooks.
Hearing about Ashley’s experience with audio got me thinking. I also benefit from reading things along with all the stuff I listen to. Sure, I’m more adapted to audio than Ash, but I get a lot out of using multiple ways to consume the information too. My habits are pretty stark though - apart from what I read for my day job where the only option is written material, the most important information I consume comes from audio. I listen to heaps of audiobooks and podcasts. Apart from my aforementioned job and my nightly reading (30 minutes before bed), the only time I read things is when I’m reading my version of ‘trashy’ news: Apple pundits, various tech reviews, and things that I like to follow but I don’t learn a whole lot from.
I spent some time this week wondering about how do my reading vs. listening habits help me and/or hinder me. If I’m learning important things from podcasts and other audio sources, how could I help myself (and others like Ash) consolidate this information? What if I changed my approach a little? Would I get more out of the information I consume? How could my information consumption habits be tweaked a little to help you?
I noticed that a lot of the podcasts I listen to don’t have a lot of written content to go with them. That’s because some of the best podcasts are a conversation - they’re inherently hard to capture in written form. The majority of their value is exactly because they’re a conversation rather than a formal written document. But, with people like Ash out there who learn better from reading, I think there’s a need to provide some good written summaries for the best audio content.
It’s a hard job - conversations are difficult to capture in written form. Nevertheless, I decided to do my best collating and writing some summaries of my favourite audio content for you. Let's start with a great podcast episode I listened to last week:
Provided episode description:
The high priest of spiritual parody drops out of character to discuss transparency and dismantle identity in one of my longest conversations to date. Dive into some meaty food for thought from the real person behind everyone’s favourite conscious funny guy.
This episode will get you thinking a lot about your ego. It’s about learning to understand what the ego is for (protecting you) and only letting it do that when you need to be protected.
The episode ties into the Brene Brown TED talk about vulnerability. That is, if you’re more open and vulnerable, you’ll get more out of your relationships and other areas of life. Whilst it’s scary to be vulnerable, it’s also where all the nice things in life come from. It’s how we learn! Our egos are there trying to stop us from being vulnerable - this is how an inflated ego can get in the way of learning and progression as a person.
You’ll also notice connections with the work of Ryan Holiday and other Stoic philosophers on ego. Ryan Holiday’s work, especially ‘Ego is the Enemy’ tends towards pushing you to see the ego as, well, the enemy in order to protect yourself from the downsides of ego. Whilst I do think the Stoic idea is useful, in this episode I was struck by the way J.P. and Aubrey described their relationships with their egos. They view ego not so much as an adversarial thing, but more as a friend who might be a little over protective sometimes. In particular, I enjoyed Aubrey’s description of the way keeping a handle on his ego lets him “see, permit, and encourage” his wife for everything that she is.
I encourage you all to listen to this conversation - it’s one I’ve listened to twice already and probably will again soon!
If you don’t know what sort of learning you tend towards, take a moment to think about where you spend most of your ‘learning’ time. Is it YouTube? Maybe it’s podcast’s like me? Or do you read books or websites? Maybe you just talk to people? I’m planning to write more about the way you consume information and how to get more out of less. If you liked this post, sign up below to and I’ll send you my latest posts!
See Ego is the Enemy and The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. ↩