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How to Learn Things Intentionally Starting with Anti-Racism

June 07, 2020

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It’d be great if you applied this learning technique to your studying of anti-racist texts and helped fellow dudes to learn. Though perhaps “intentionally” instead of “quickly” for that application.

Tatiana Mac

This was a reply I received not too long ago in response to the pinned tweet on my profile.

I tweeted at Tatiana a few days before this reply that I took her advice and bought "How To Be Antiracist" by Ibram X Kendi.

I thought Tatiana was right.

Why not apply this to what I'm learning about in regards to anti-racism? This post attempts to lay out that Fast Framework, but instead of focusing on speed, we're going to focus on intention.

Apply the Framework

The framework looks roughly like this:

How to Learn Things Intentionally

  • set a goal
  • stay accountable
  • build momentum (small wins)
  • share knowledge
  • stay focused
  • practice deliberately
  • develop confidence
  • dive deep
  • teach others

Use systems. Let them set you up for success.

I'm going to walk through each step of the framework using an example around anti-racism.

The focus is on intention. Being intentional about what I'm learning, how I learn, and what I do with that knowledge.

Set a Goal

Using the Objective Key Results (OKRs) methodology, the first step is to decide on an objective:

Objective: Strive to be 1% more anti-racist

The next thing to do is write down the key results. Completing these will allow me to achieve the objective:

Key Results:

  1. Read "How To Be Antiracist" by Ibram X Kendi
  2. Write a Book Review
    1. Write book review on Goodreads
    2. Write book review on Amazon
    3. Write book review on personal blog
    4. Share book review with author
  3. Audit Followers on Twitter
    1. Unfollow those promoting racism or discrimination
    2. Follow more people who don't look like me

I think all of this is achievable within a month (4 weeks). Again, even after completing these, I will only be 1% done. There are plenty of other ideas I have for continuing to promote anti-racism. I will share additional ideas at the end of the article, but know that are work is nowhere near done after this.

Establish a Timeline

I find it easier for me to complete goals when I write out a timeline. To do that, I need a bit more information:

  • How long is the book?
  • How much time can I dedicate per day?

The book is 320 pages long. I want to read it in 3 weeks. 320 pages divided by 21 days is 15 pages a day. Do I have enough time for that? Certainly!

I'm thinking of doing this:

  • spend the first 3 weeks reading the book (15pgs/day)
  • spend one week writing the book summary and auditing followers

I write out the weeks to show me exactly what I need to do. It's also nice checking a box at the end of the day

  • Week 1
    • Read pages 1-15
    • Read 16-31
    • Read 32-47
    • Read 48-63
    • Read 64-79
    • Read 80-95
    • Read 96-111
  • Week 2
    • Read 112-127
    • Read 128-143
    • Read 144-159
    • Read 160-175
    • Read 176-191
    • Read 192-207
    • Read 208-223
    • Read 224-239
    • Read 240-255
  • Week 3
    • Read 256-271
    • Read 272-287
    • Read 288-303
    • Read 304-320
    • Write book review on Goodreads
    • Write book review on Amazon
  • Week 4
    • Write book review on personal blog
    • Unfollow those promoting racism or discrimination
    • Follow more people who don't look like me

Stay Accountable

It's important to stay accountable with this plan. Ideally, you have others doing it with you.

Here is what I'm going to do:

  • tweet out this post and invite others to join me
  • join the book club on this Discord

If none of that works, I have a coworker who believes strongly in anti-racism who I can ask. They can help me stay accountable by letting me check-in each day sharing my progress.

Build Momentum

To gain momentum when working on goals, I like to focus on small wins. Reading 15 pages is manageable. If I find that to be too much, I may scale it back to 10 pages. The idea is to not feel too overwhelmed and make sure a piece of the goal is achievable each day.

Also, I believe one can sustain momentum by reminding myself why I am doing this goal. It's easy to be heads-down reading staying focused. Instead, I want to revisit my intentions at the end of each week and remind myself how this contributes to a mission bigger than myself: striving for more anti-racism in the US.

Share Knowledge

Knowledge is power. I believe we should always be sharing with others what we're learning. It helps solidify your understanding and it spreads knowledge - a win-win for all! There are multiple ways to do this.

Here are the three I will do:

  1. Learn in Public
  2. Write (like this post)
  3. Tweet

Stay Focused

It's easy to start a goal and then fall off track shortly after. I imagine reading this book and doing some of this work will be tough, but I must stay focused. Here are some tactics I use to help:

  • daily meditation (even for 5 mins)
  • taking walks (it helps to take breaks)
  • having conversations ("I can't wait to read more and share with someone!")
  • hiding phone while reading

Practice Deliberately

It's not enough to read the book. The actual learning happens when you deliberately practice what you have learned.

Here are a few ways I plan to practice deliberately:

  • calling out racism when I see it at work, with friends or family or online, and educating in response
  • speaking up at work about anti-racism, and seeing what we can do as a team, an organization and a company to combat it
  • amplify the voices of the Black community who talk about anti-racism

These are all things that I will have to stay mindful of after finishing this book and doing this work. The work isn't a "one and done" type of thing. It is new knowledge along with a shift in mindset.

Develop Confidence

Using this knowledge is scary. I worry about making mistakes or saying the wrong thing. This is where confidence comes into play.

Here's what I plan to do to develop that:

  • build a list of vocabulary terms in Anki
  • build a list of stories around racism/anti-racism and have it handy to share
  • write down important facts in Anki
  • reflect on my intentions and why this is important to me

Dive Deep

To build real understanding and knowledge, one must dive deep. During this project, I know several questions will arise. To dive deep, I plan to:

  • keep a backlog of resources I encounter
  • keep a list of questions to revisit

These can then be used to explore areas that I feel less comfortable so that I can learn and dive deeper. This will not only uncover things I did not learn enough but help me build confidence knowing I am going beyond the surface.

Teach Others

Pass on what you have learned, Luke...

—Yoda

The most important thing I can do after learning about anti-racism and completing this project is to share what I learn. Knowledge is power. It's up to me to take on what I have learned and help others do the same.

I am not advocating for starting a business and offering services to teach this knowledge (unless that's what you want to do), but rather educating others. Anti-racism is not something taught in school. I would argue that most people don't learn about it unless they seek it out.

Things like this blog post are one way. Another is to write in public (like on Twitter) and be mindful of opportunities where sharing this information with others may be beneficial.

Take Action

The last thing I'd like to ask is for you to #TakeAction and join me. If you're interested in learning things intentionally, starting with anti-racism, tweet @ me and let me know.

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