Hyper-Learning: How to Adapt to the Speed of Change – Edward D. Hess Book Summary

Hyper-Learning: How to Adapt to the Speed of Change – Edward D. Hess | Free Book Summary

Hyper-Learning: How to Adapt to the Speed of Change – Edward D. Hess

In his book Hyper-Learning: How to Adapt to the Speed of Change, Edward D. Hess explains the importance of becoming a hyper-learner in order to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world.

He outlines the strategies needed to succeed in this new way of working, which include developing a growth mindset, taking ownership of our minds, bodies, and emotions, and building social networks to help us stay connected and engaged. 

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The book also discusses the power of self-reflection and the importance of failure in learning, as well as the need to be open to change and to constantly update our skills in order to succeed.

Humans evolved to connect, cooperate and learn throughout their lives

You must change and reinvent yourself at an unprecedented pace today, and do so many times in your lifetime. Dispense with the notion that you learn for the first one-third of your life and can forget about learning thereafter. Beware complacency. Free book, podcast summaries

Continually question what you think you know, and connect with others to gain different perspectives, thoughts and ideas.


Open-mindedness, curiosity, focused listening and challenging your beliefs don’t come easily. Your brain naturally seeks to conserve energy and to protect your ego. Cognitive laziness and many blind spots caused by biases create barriers to hyper-learning.

This renders you – like everyone else – a “sub-optimal learner.” To optimize, you need other people to help you recognize and address your biases and overcome your cognitive resistance.

Learning requires a quiet ego and a safe environment

When listening, don’t think about how to reply or judge what you hear. Seek only to learn and understand. Pay deep attention. Hyper-learning needs a relaxed ego and a curious mind that remains open to new ideas. Set aside competition and self-promotion to engage in collaboration and experimentation.

“Collective flow reflects a team becoming one – an emotionally integrated group of people devoid of fear and self-centeredness, totally engrossed in the common task.”

Hyper-learning demands a psychologically safe and positive workplace that invites ideas from all. Everyone should feel safe bringing their authentic, whole selves to work, and caring teams must rally around a shared purpose and values.

Command-and-control hierarchies – which impede or even forbid crucial openness, creativity, and innovation – must give way to purpose, trust, and strong relationships.

Inner peace facilitates optimal learning.

Get your mind and body to a positive place that inspires meaningful conversations and learning. Inner peace comes from a quiet mind, body, ego and a positive emotional state; this peace forms the core of hyper-learning. Inner peace allows you to hear opposing ideas, build trust and see opportunity.

With effort and practice, you can gain mastery over your mind and body. Prevent your mind from wandering by taking deep breaths and by monitoring your ego and emotions.

Don’t conflate your ideas or beliefs with your identity. Forge your identity around how well you listen, think, collaborate and learn. This helps you avoid reacting to triggers; you won’t worry about who likes you, care about sounding smart or become defensive when others disagree with you.

Inner peace comprises four key elements: a quiet ego, a quiet mind, a quiet body and a positive emotional state.

Quiet your mind

Your mind and body aren’t separate; they influence each other. Quiet your mind and ego by practicing mindfulness meditation and appreciating and extending positive thoughts to others. Slow down, smile more, be kind, stay humble and don’t approach life or conversations as competitions. 

Listen to your body to recognize whether you feel tight or relaxed, anxious or open. Remain conscious of your body language as it sends positive or negative signals during conversations. Subconsciously and imperfectly, your brain works constantly by recognizing – or inventing – patterns and making predictions to keep you safe.

You can change your brain throughout your life.

Mind your mind

“Mindfulness meditation is actually inner peace superfood.”

To make new neural connections – to learn, in other words – you must prevent your mind from wandering and from making assumptions or coming to conclusions based on fast, subconscious thinking.

In addition to mindfulness meditation, go for a walk in nature, read or listen to a calming podcast to aid this process.

These activities can take your brain off automatic mode, so it can focus, and you can think critically about new ideas or evaluate emotions your brain may conjure that can impede new learning and the creation of new neural pathways.

Keep a journal to record your state of mind and body and to learn what activities, places, tasks and communities put you in a quiet, positive place.

A learning mind-set frees you from the fear of making mistakes

No one can force you to learn. You need to want to adopt a hyper-learning mind-set, love it and pursue learning out of passion. Make learning personally meaningful by adopting a growth mind-set that opens you to learning and frees you from fear of mistakes, being wrong or feeling stupid.

Shed those fears to create, consider opposing ideas, acknowledge what you don’t know, imagine and think critically – the very abilities you need to learn and remain essential in the workplace. These are also the very skills that no machine can develop.

 Consider the teachings of some of history’s wisest people, such as Aristotle, Plato and Einstein.

They advocated living the Golden Rule, adaptability, constant reading and continuous learning as the foundations of a successful life.

Make learning stick through behavioral change.

Put hyper-learning into practice through your behaviors.

Think about how you learn. For example, do you learn by asking questions, remaining open, staying humble or keeping focused?

Do you prefer quieting the ego, exploring, collaborating, testing assumptions or examining data and evidence?

In your journal, list seven behaviors you find critical to your own learning. Then ponder the sub-behaviors that drive each of your seven behaviors. For example, if you chose “collaboration,” you might write “active listening” beneath. If “courage” appears on your list, add “challenging the status quo,” and/or “having difficult conversations.”

Hyper-learning demands different ways of working

Even if you and the people on your team adopt the inner peace mind-set and behaviors necessary for hyper-learning, you all will not achieve optimal learning unless your work environment nurtures it.

Unfortunately, most organizations still maintain outdated management practices based on fear and hierarchies. Leaders pretend to know it all, control and micromanage. Such environments stifle hyper-learning.

Firms must instead emphasize collaboration, psychological safety, shared authority, autonomy, diversity, caring, trust, emotional intelligence and purpose.

Promote trust, collaboration and communication within your team

People need connections at work to find meaning and thrive. Make work about joy, not dread. People can’t learn alone, and their best thinking occurs with others.

Small, close and diverse teams of people who care about each other and who share a common purpose, values and goals gain from each other’s candor, openness, mutual respect and unique perspectives. They increase their abilities through trust and a collegial environment.

Positivity boosts people physically and mentally through the release of oxytocin, which engenders feelings of warmth and deeper connections – which in turn generate a virtuous cycle by triggering the release of more oxytocin. This cycle causes feelings of competitiveness to morph into feelings of safety, caring and the pursuit of mutual success. 

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