Growth Strategy #30: The Feynman Technique


Growth Strategy #30: The Feynman Technique


Growth Strategy #30: The Feynman Technique

26 Oct 2023

There was a time in my life when I felt overwhelmed by the constant influx of new information, skills, and personal development goals. Juggling work, relationships, and self-improvement felt like an impossible task.

It was during this period that I stumbled upon a remarkable learning technique—the Feynman Technique—that not only helped me understand complex concepts but also transformed the way I approached personal growth.

Good for: Breaking down, learning and mastering complex subjects

Best used by: You

The Feynman Technique, named after the renowned physicist Richard Feynman, is a simple yet powerful method for learning and mastering complex subjects. It revolves around the idea that if you can explain a concept in simple terms, you truly understand it. This approach has proven to be a game-changer not just in academics but also in the realm of personal development.

The personal growth world is filled with specialised jargon that precisely defines and shares complex concepts, fostering a sense of community and enabling efficient communication among practitioners.

This jargon serves as a shortcut for those fluent in it, granting them access to a wealth of knowledge and resources while solidifying their identity within the personal growth community. However, it can also pose challenges, acting as a barrier to newcomers and potentially leading to misunderstandings, exclusivity, or oversimplification.

Balancing the use of jargon with efforts to simplify and make self-improvement accessible is essential, ensuring that personal growth remains inclusive and comprehensible for individuals at all stages of their journey.

The Benefits

1. Deep Understanding: Compels you to break down complex ideas into their fundamental components. This process fosters a deeper understanding, helping you see the bigger picture and the intricate details simultaneously.

2. Retention: By explaining a subject in simple terms, you're essentially imprinting it in your memory. The act of teaching, even if it's just to yourself, reinforces your knowledge.

3. Identifying Knowledge Gaps: When you struggle to simplify a concept, it's a clear sign of gaps in your understanding. These gaps become opportunities for further learning and growth.

4. Effective Communication: Mastering the art of simplifying complex ideas is a valuable skill in any personal or professional context. It enhances your ability to communicate effectively with others.

5. Boosted Confidence: As you become proficient at breaking down and explaining complex topics, your confidence in your ability to learn and conquer new challenges soars.

While the Feynman Technique is a highly effective learning method, it's essential to be aware of its potential drawbacks:

1. Time-Consuming: Breaking down complex concepts and teaching them in simple terms can be time-consuming, especially for intricate subjects.

2. Initial Frustration: It's common to feel frustrated when you first attempt to explain a complex topic. This frustration can deter some learners.

3. Requires Self-Discipline: The technique demands consistency and self-discipline. It may not be suitable for those seeking quick fixes.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Using the Feynman Technique for Personal Growth

Here's a checklist to help you harness the power of the Feynman Technique for your personal development journey:

1. Choose Your Topic: Select a subject or skill related to personal growth that you want to master.

2. Study and Research: Gather all the necessary information about the topic through books, articles, courses, or experts.

3. Simplify and Teach: Explain the topic as if you were teaching it to a child or someone unfamiliar with it. Use plain language and avoid jargon.

4. Identify Knowledge Gaps: Pay attention to areas where you struggle to simplify or explain the topic. These are the areas you need to focus on for further learning.

5. Deepen Your Understanding: Dive deeper into the challenging aspects of the topic, seeking additional resources and guidance.

6. Repeat and Refine: Keep simplifying and teaching the topic until you can effortlessly explain it to anyone.

Completing challenges, such as a 10-day challenge, complements the Feynman Technique by offering a structured framework for learning with clear objectives and timelines. These challenges encourage consistent engagement with a subject, promoting repetition and refinement.

Additionally, they foster effective time management, combat procrastination, and provide measurable progress milestones, enhancing accountability and skill development. By intertwining challenges and the Feynman Technique, individuals can create a dynamic environment for dedicated and sustained learning over a defined period, making it an ideal approach for personal growth and skill acquisition.

Example Scenario: Using the Feynman Technique for Personal Growth

Imagine you want to improve your time management skills. You choose this topic as your personal growth endeavour:

1. Choose Your Topic: Time management.

2. Study and Research: You read books, attend webinars, and consult productivity experts to gather knowledge on time management techniques.

3. Simplify and Teach: You explain the key concepts of time management, such as setting priorities, creating schedules, and eliminating distractions, as if you were teaching them to a child.

4. Identify Knowledge Gaps: You struggle to explain the "Pareto Principle" simply. This is your knowledge gap.

5. Deepen Your Understanding: You delve deeper into the Pareto Principle, understanding how it relates to the 80/20 rule and its application in daily life.

6. Repeat and Refine: You continue simplifying and teaching time management until you can guide someone through effective time management effortlessly.

Incorporating the Feynman Technique into your personal growth journey can be transformative. It empowers you not only to acquire knowledge but also to simplify, internalise, and apply that knowledge effectively.

As you tackle complex subjects, you'll discover that personal growth becomes an exciting and achievable adventure, one simple explanation at a time.

Thank you for reading.

Please subscribe to get more growth strategies like this in your inbox every week.


PS. Check out Reevew, the Personal Growth toolkit, dedicated to helping you master yourself, by answering thought-provoking questions to know and grow yourself.

You get a 14-day free trial and you can cancel anytime.

Know and grow yourself

© 2023 All rights reserved. Reevew is part of SFE Group Crown Hse, 27 Gloucester St, London, WC1N 3AX

Know and grow yourself

Get started


Contact us

Manage subscription

Reevew is part of SFE Group Crown Hse,

27 Gloucester St, London, WC1N 3AX

© 2024 All rights reserved. Reevew is part of SFE Group Crown Hse, 27 Gloucester St, London, WC1N 3AX