What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

The One Shortcut That Exists in Life

September 4, 2013, 4:33 PM
Shutterstock_99608711

All of us are looking for shortcuts in life.  We want to be able to take a pill that will make us smarter or find some formula that will make it so we don’t have to go through 10,000 hours.  Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. 

But mentorship is the one and only shortcut that exists in life  And the reason is if you find the right mentor for whatever field you’re in, they’ve made mistakes in life and they learned from them.  They can steer you away from the kinds of mistakes that are going to make you  waste a year or two of your life.

They’re gonna be able to see how you operate in the present and give you the kind of feedback that is gonna help you practice better.  They call it deliberate practice in the field where you practice developing what you’re weak at.  Only your mentor really is gonna be able to see what you’re truly weak at and give you that real time feedback.

There’s another element of mentorship that’s really powerful but it’s almost not – you can almost not put it into words.  We humans – our brains are developed from learning by watching other people doing something.  I talk in the book about mirror neurons which Vilayanur Ramachandran discusses a lot.  The idea that we’re capable of putting our minds into another person and act and thinking as if we’re inside their body.  We’re able to do that in a learning way.  We can watch somebody do something and we can learn from it.  It’s a very powerful form of learning that predates the invention of language.  

When you’re around somebody who’s your mentor who’s very successful in the field you’re not only picking up the things that they talk about but you’re picking up all kinds of cues from how they carry themselves, from their habits, from their whole way of being that’s a very powerful thing to absorb.  There’s a famous book about tennis, the inner game of tennis, in which he talks about tennis instructors who can’t verbalize the perfect serve but they can show it to you.  And in showing it to you suddenly it makes sense.

Well, that’s what it’s like with a mentor that can show you how things are done.  If you find the right mentor you’re gonna cut out – you can cut out two or three or four years of wasted useless mistakes of not developing what you’re weakest at, et cetera.  So the whole key is how do you find this right mentor.  And in the book I give you plenty of examples and advice on that front.  The main thing is the mentor is almost like a second parent – a father or mother figure.  There’s somebody that you could imagine in 20 years you would like to be like them.  Maybe not doing the exact same thing but you share their spirit.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

 

 

The One Shortcut That Exist...

Newsletter: Share: