How to Improve Learning Skills


How to Improve Learning Skills

In this article, Marja Fox explains how learning is a skill to be mastered and provides a few key tips to improve learning capabilities. 

At the beginning of every new consulting project, McKinsey teams gel through an activity known as Team Learning. Among other things, each individual is asked to share their strengths, something they are really good at that they would bring to the table. And, I never had any idea what to say.

I’d never felt that I had any real talents. As a child, I’d see classmates who danced, sang, played sports as if they were born to do those things. It seemed to me they’d emerged from the womb with all the raw talent, passion and attitude required to excel. I had no such talent. I was pretty good at a lot of things, but not the best at any of them. Over time, I learned to parlay combinations of them into some pretty significant successes: leads in the high school musical (singing, dancing and acting), entry into a prestigious college (academics and extracurriculars), a job at McKinsey (problem solving, ambition, influence and leadership).

Eventually, I realized the common thread. The thing that does come naturally to me – so naturally that I often don’t realize I’m doing it and so easily I didn’t understand that other people found it effortful – is learning. Learning is my only real talent and I have used it to build an array of capabilities that others mistake as talents (and I’m happy to let them do so!). Given the flexibility and applicability of learning, I’d say it’s the best talent of all.

Perhaps no bit of psychology research has infiltrated common culture so successfully as the concept of growth mindset. Introduced by Carol Dweck, a Stanford professor and leading thinker in the field of motivation, in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, the concept steers us to a belief system that supports lifelong learning. According to Carol:

When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world – the world of fixed traits – success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other – the world of changing qualities – it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.


Key points include:

  • Humility
  • Shamelessness
  • Patient pursuit


Read the full article, The Ingredients of Learning Excellence, on