How to apply what you learn

bridgePay-off: a step by step recipe to take you from ‘learned’ to ‘earned’
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You’ve learned something new. You’ve read the book. You attended the course. You’d like to benefit from some of the ideas as you feel a little more enlightened.

And then… just get on with the rest of your life.

Nothing really changes. Apart from the fact that what you really learned was that putting what you learn into action doesn’t often happen. It all seems a bit hard to do.

At least it does to those who don’t apply – we’ll call them the ‘non-doers’ for now. Meanwhile, the ‘doers’ figure out how to apply the best parts of what they learn – and they find that they earn the new results and rewards they were aiming for.

Just what are the doers doing differently to the non-doers? What’s their secret?

If there’s one thing I’ve spotted in my last 15 years helping people to learn and apply what they learn effectively, it’s that the ‘doers’ think differently to the ‘non-doers’.

What the ‘doers’ do differently

I’ve spotted patterns – ingredients if you like, that the ‘doers’ consider in order to transfer what they learn into new actions, skills, behaviours, and ultimately desirable rewards.

I thought you might find it useful if I share some of those insights that I’ve noticed (particularly from those who have stretched themselves to transform their behaviours, much like some of the technical people I’ve worked with who have learned to sell and generate revenue for their business).

And rather than just share some tips, I’ve broken down and organised what the doers do so you can follow the same recipe, if you’re interested. Since it’s a recipe, I’ve written it out like a recipe from a cookbook. If you follow it, it should have the same predictable results as a cooking recipe. (Yeah, at this point I realise the more challenged cooks amongst you are cynically thinking “what, burnt?”)

Look, don’t be like that. There’s no heat involved. Just make sure that you adjust the recipe to suit (that’s a key point I make when it comes to application).

Recipe to turn learning into results

Serves: you and whoever else is impacted
Difficulty: moderate


  • a set of useful thoughts. Pick out the rotten ones (I’ll show you how in the method)
  • desire for a better outcome
  • belief that you can act differently
  • clarity on what you can and can’t control
  • personal accountability for your actions and results
  • adaptability and forward thinking
  • a method to retain and recall or access what you need in order to apply
  • a self-management tool e.g. diary, calendar, tablet, alarm
  • a pinch of creativity


1.Be aware of and pick out any un-useful thoughts you may have about applying what you have learned. Remove thoughts that the non-doer has, like:

  • It makes sense on paper, but you can’t really apply it
  • I knew it all already
  • It won’t work for us
  • We’ll see if it works shall we!

Replace them with new useful thoughts that the do-ers have, like:

  • If the results from this are worthwhile, how will I make what I have learned work for me?
  • What parts can I use, modify, or practice even more?
  • How can I support myself to do this more consistently?
  • What’s the equivalent of this in my own world? What’s it similar to that is relevant to me?
  • How could I make this even easier to apply?
  • What else could I learn to do differently from this that I may have overlooked?

2.Take your strong desire to earn yourself new results in this area, put it on a rolling boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Don’t forget about it.

3.Ensure that you believe that you can act differently to what comes naturally to you (if you find a way to support yourself) to achieve a more rewarding outcome. Hey, you learned to walk from crawling once, and you probably learned to ride a bike, so that should take care of that?

4.Clarify what you can and can’t control in this situation. You can control and influence more than you think. How could you apply what you learn? Which parts could you do? What else?

5.Check how committed you are to delivering yourself new outcomes. If you don’t do this, you may find out later that you weren’t totally committed after all. Better to find out now. You’ll need that commitment and accountability for your actions and outcomes.

6.Focus on your adaptability. Bad cooks don’t do this. Good cooks frequently taste and check the flavours, then adjust. Rarely can you take something that you learn as handed to you on a plate, and apply it easily in the right ways at the right times. This mindset has people thinking “learning doesn’t work!” or “yeah, it makes sense on paper, but in practice?” Don’t give up that easily.

If it was that easy to apply everything we learned, we’d all excel at everything.

You’ll need to be prepared to work hard enough to adapt what you learn in order to apply it to your situation.

Take what you have learned and use some forward thinking to decide which situations you will be in where you can best use it or at least try parts of it out in a ‘safe zone’. Practice purposefully. And practice in your head too – most high performers do that. Visualise what you’re doing when you’re doing it well. Do it again. Repeat until you grow the mental ‘muscle’ for it. It takes time, effort and focus, but you’ll find it works if you’re prepared to do it. (Don’t forget the ‘desire’ and rewards simmering away on the back burner).

Keep ‘tasting’ the flavour and adjusting what you learned to fit your situation and your world.

Which parts of it could you use?
Which parts of it could you adapt?
Which parts could be used in other situations?
And what could you do to ensure that you act on them in the right place at the right time?

For more ideas on squeezing more value out of what you learn, see my article on ‘How to get 10 times more out of what you learn’

7.What will you need at the point of need to apply what you learn effectively? Either make the key points memorable or accessible. Use your mind, use acronyms, use your tools, use checklists, use Google.

8.Schedule into some form of self-management tool a reminder that kicks in at the right time, to get you to apply what you have learned in a way that works to increase your chances that you’ll get the outcome you want.

Serve warm. And if you found this useful, please share with your network using the links on the side of the screen! Thanks.

Ridiculous bonus tip: to apply what you learn in this post, you’ll need to apply what you learn in this post.

If you are interested in more ideas around learning effectively (especially if you’re interested in learning how to sell) you may like some of my other articles:

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