The Only Skill That Matters – Jonathan Levi Book Summary

The Only Skill That Matters – Jonathan Levi | Free Book Summary

The Only Skill That Matters – Jonathan Levi

“The Only Skill That Matters” is a book written by Jonathan Levi. It was published by Lionscrest in 2019. The book discusses how to improve one’s learning, reading, and memory skills. The synopsis of the book is that in the next ten years, every knowledge worker on earth will become one of two things: invaluable or obsolete.

No matter the industry, the pace of progress and new information is faster today than ever before in human history, and business professionals must constantly upskill themselves to remain relevant. 

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The book provides practical tips and knowledge on how to develop the most important skill in any industry: the ability to learn, process, and recall vast amounts of information quickly and effectively.

The Explosion of Information Overload

Whereas it used to be only doctors and programmers who struggled to keep up with the pace of their field, today, it’s almost everybody. Marketing managers who aren’t caught up on all the latest consumer psychology research. Sales professionals who haven’t learned the latest features of their software of choice. Free book, podcast summaries

Professionals in every industry who want to take their career to the next level but are struggling to keep up with the work they already have—much less make time for leisure learning.

Fortunately, there’s a better way. A way to not only choose the right things to learn, but to absorb them with relative ease—and actually remember them! Fortunately, you can become a super learner.

The Only Skill That Matters

‘Learning’ is the only skill that matters. After all, if you can learn effectively, you can learn—or become—anything you want. With these skills, you can go from being a depressed social outcast to a happy and successful entrepreneur. You can go from being a struggling young professional to a leader in the company of your dreams.

Most of all, you can go from wherever you are today to wherever it is you aspire to go. And that’s why, now, it’s your turn to learn.

Learn like a Caveman

You see, the types of information that gave our Paleolithic ancestors a survival advantage didn’t come from textbooks or Bible verses. It was olfactory, gustatory, and visual information—in other words, smell, taste, and sight

The most innovative schools, from the established Montessori to the new-age MUSE, know this and have modeled themselves accordingly. Students in these schools don’t learn geometry from a textbook; they learn it by building real structures and observing real phenomena. They don’t study biology by listening to a teacher drone on; they learn it by cultivating gardens that feed the entire school.

10X Your Memory: The Power of Visualization

If you want to improve your memory tenfold, create novel visualizations, called “markers,” for everything you wish to remember. As a general rule, the markers you come up with should abide by the following rules.

Rule #1 Create Highly Detailed Visualizations

First, picture as much detail as possible. By creating a high level of detail, you ensure that you are adequately visualizing a vivid, memorable image in your mind’s eye.

The Power of Visualization Part 2

Rule #2 Opt for the “Out There”

Next, wherever possible, your visualizations should include absurd, bizarre, violent, or sexual imagery.

Rule #3 Leverage Your Existing Knowledge

Wherever possible, you should make use of images, ideas, or memories you already have.

Rule #4 Connect It Back

Finally, it’s important that as you create visualizations, you also create logical connections to what you’re trying to remember.

For example: instead of trying to memorize the word caber, or “to fit” in Spanish, we can come up with a visualization of a taxi cab trying to fit a bear inside.

Never Forget Again: The Power of Spaced Repetition

Spacing effect states that things become infinitely more memorable if we repeatedly encounter them. You should also meet its supportive cousin, the lag effect. It states that the spacing effect is compounded when encounters are spaced out for extended periods of time.

Learning something once, no matter how well you do it, just isn’t enough. In his early work, Herman Ebbinghaus found that there were tremendous benefits to continued review—even if he believed he “knew” the material. He called this technique “overlearning,” and it’s an essential part of creating memories that stick.

Fortunately, there’s a smart way to do this—a way that minimizes wasted time and cuts things down to the minimum effective dose.

Use Both Visualization & Spaced Repetition

Visual mnemonics are not enough without spaced repetition. Well, it turns out, the converse is also true. Always create visual markers, even if you don’t add pictures to your flashcards. Where appropriate, remember to place those markers in a memory palace. This will supercharge your spaced repetition and save you even more review time.

Priming Your Brain: The Power of Pre-Reading

The skill we call pre-reading is actually two processes in one: Surveying and Questioning

Pre-Reading: Surveying the Situation

When we pre-read a text, we’re essentially skimming. But not your normal type of skimming. Instead, we’re spending a couple of seconds per page, skimming at a speed of about five to eight times our current reading speed. We are not reading the text—or even trying to.

Instead, we’re looking for titles, subheadings, proper nouns, numbers, words, or anything that doesn’t seem to fit in. When we pre-read, we gain an understanding of the structure of the text, and we build a sort of mental map.

If there are cutaways or terms that jump out at us as unfamiliar, we stop our pre-reading and gain a better understanding before resuming.

Pre-Reading: Question Everything

How will I use this information? As you pre-read the text and begin to get a feel for its contents, try to envision scenarios in which it could affect your life. Imagine how you could benefit from having that knowledge.

How could you use this knowledge in your day-to-day life? Who are some people in your life with whom you could share it? When might it be useful for sparking up a conversation? It sounds basic, but simply giving your brain this “why” is often the difference between intently focusing and feeling your eyes glaze over.

Check Yourself

Adults learn much more effectively when we have an immediate application and a pressing need for whatever it is we’re learning. This, more than the actual format of the test, is probably why studies show testing to be such a boon to learning.

After all, as the saying goes, “Learning is not a spectator sport.” So why not develop our own “tests” in ways that are fast, fun, and effective?

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