• Adam Tarnow

I Know Kung-Fu

"I know Kung-Fu."


Chalk that up as a sentence I've never said. That line is from the 1999 film The Matrix. The film was released twenty-one years ago, and to me, its premise feels more relevant than ever.


You can't say that about many other things that were also popular in 1999. Napster, Y2K, MySpace, and Kid Rock don't feel as relevant today. Can I get an amen?


Lately, I've been thinking a lot about that quote. Especially when I start to read a new book, listen to a podcast, or attempt to learn a new skill.


Here's a quick summary of the scene: the film's protagonist, Neo (Keanu Reeves), has his brain connected to a computer. Neo can have all sorts of information and skills downloaded directly into his brain with a few keystrokes. Instant learning.


Five seconds. That's how long it took Neo to learn Kung-Fu. Can you imagine? That's faster than adding a new app to your mobile phone.


Why has Elon Musk not invented this technology yet? The closest we can come to "instant learning" is listening to an audiobook or podcast at 2x speed. (Random side note: listening to podcasts at 1/2 speed is a ton of fun. If you want to know how your favorite podcaster sounds while drunk and stoned, then listen at 1/2 speed.)


Until Elon gets his act together, we have one option for learning. What is that option? Hard work.


That's it. That's our only option. Read a book, take a class, listen to a podcast, etc.


The process of hard work won't make us Kung-Fu masters in five seconds. But it will make us something that might prove to be more valuable. It will make us resilient.


When you do the hard work of learning, you get more than knowledge. Learning doesn't just fill your brains with information and your hands with new skills. Learning develops your character.


In the end, that's what you want. That's what helps you turn knowledge into wisdom and skills into service. Character is what helps you survive and thrive in 2021.


So, when Elon invents the instant learning machine, I'll go ahead and learn Kung-Fu. Until then, I’ll keep doing the hard work of reading books, listening to podcasts, and taking classes. Trial and error aren't efficient, but they are effective.


My encouragement to you today: don't stop the hard work of learning. Keep up the grind. You are developing more than your mind; you are developing your character. You are becoming resilient, which is a rare quality in today's "I want it now!" culture.


Keep adding value,


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