I recently read an article about Richard Feynman, the greatly admired scientist and nice guy. Before reading on, I urge you to check out the article to learn the amazing technique Feynman used to help share his understanding of an incredibly complex field (quantum physics) with countless people.
Basically, the article explains Feynman’s unique teaching & learning method based on the following truth, in the eloquent words of Albert Einstein:
You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.
This humbling fact explains the power of those few teachers able to wrap extremely complex concepts into simple, elegant explanations. We’ve all had a teacher like this at least once in our lives. As a result of deep study, these teachers reached a profound understanding of a concept, extracted the essential truths from it, and translated it into simpler language for the rest of us; they were able to transform confusion into understanding of a subject that seemed impossible to us.
Richard Feynman was one such teacher. Reading about him rekindled my interest in his unique methods, so I decided to try learning something that seems far beyond my current understanding, using his technique, as a personal test. I encourage anyone else to take on this challenge and explore a new concept you’d like to learn!
The concept I decided to learn is:
Earning a million dollars in a year
Here’s how I’d explain it to my grandmother (or someone else who has no idea about this concept):
To earn a million dollars, you must provide a million dollars worth of service. This means one or a few large, valuable services, or many small incremental services. They can be provided either actively (by rendering service every time it’s requested) or passively (investing time or money to create a system that will render service when requested, automatically).
What do I mean by service? Well, all money that will ever come to you MUST come through other people. So it’s important to work together and cooperate with others. Adopt an attitude that welcomes others and opens them up to collaboration and partnership with you. This means being friendly, open, kind, and present to their needs. Finally, it’s important to communicate well with others. This will not only create relationships, it will also help you discover their wants and needs. Rendering service means helping others meet their wants and needs. Therefore, find out what you do well, and use that to meet the specific wants and needs of others! Use your imagination and other mental faculties to come up with ideas on how this can be done. Service is an extremely important endeavour, so dedicate time and thought to continuously improving your ability to serve.
What is a million dollars worth of service? That will depend on:
- the demand for what you do, and
- your ability to do it.
Find out which of your talents, skills, and passions are in demand, then focus on number 2: improving your ability to do it.
I definitely feel as though I understand this intimidating concept a little better. The next step is refining and applying this new knowledge. I’ll follow up on this in another article next year, to share how I made my million!
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this method too!