Cultivating deep understanding is the surest path to finding your intuitive brilliance. 10

from book

Physicist Richard Feynman was known for his uncanny intuition; he had the knack of looking at a complex problem and seemingly plucking the solution out of thin air. The technical term for this ability is intuitive expertise, and it can seem rather mysterious to outside observers. But there’s a perfectly rational explanation for Feynman’s flashes of brilliance: his deep understanding of physics enabled him to intuit unexpected connections and patterns. Whatever subject you may be studying, it takes time and patience to build up the level of deep understanding on which intuitive expertise is built. But by employing a few simple strategies, you can accelerate the rate at which you acquire it. Start by getting back to basics. Feynman was famous for asking ‘stupid questions’ and would frustrate his students by bombarding them with questions about basic concepts. However, Feynman knew something his students had yet to learn: it’s possible to progress to complex concepts when you only have a vague understanding of foundational concepts. On the other hand, it’s impossible to become an intuitive expert until you know the foundational concepts of your field inside-out. A challenging learning experience can lead to a deeper grasp of the subject. That’s why you should try and embrace the struggle. Resist taking shortcuts in your learning; if there are two ways to arrive at a solution, choose the longer, more involved one. Learning a few classic chess moves will probably improve your win rate in the short term, but a lengthier study of chess strategy is a better route to a deep understanding of the game.  Try not to give up immediately when things get really challenging. Instead, implement a struggle timer. Force yourself to sit with every challenge or obstacle for at least ten minutes before you look for a simpler solution. Finally, deepen your understanding of core concepts by proving them for yourself. Look at the theorems, ideas and processes that expert practitioners in your field have formulated, then try and prove them or replicate them for yourself. You’re not trying to disprove those practitioners’ work; you’re trying to understand the procedure and thought patterns behind it.  Accepting the truth of ideas just because experts say they’re true gives you a shallow understanding of your subject. To achieve deep knowledge and intuitive expertise, it’s better to work through those ideas for yourself. That way, you’ll become one of those experts!