On picking hobbies (Part 3)
In this final part I discuss the hobby of ‘learning’. Sounds like a ruddy awful thing doesn’t it? The kind of things they lock you up in schools and try and make you do? Well, I was always a bit odd in that sense. I liked to ask questions in class and engage the teachers in a dialogue.
I also, raised my hand a lot, to ask questions and well, because I liked having the answer… A very entertaining moment was in my recent MBA class when I asked my strategy professor a question about a case study we were discussing. I debated the merits of my argument with great enthusiasm… but, little did my professor know, I had never read the case. (or maybe he did know that) Anyway, the point of that is, I like to learn and discuss new topics. So why not make it a hobby.
See, I didn’t magically arrive at that conclusion after having thought about the previous options in such great detail. If anything, the idea was nurtured organically. Over a period of time while I read about Japanese Shoguns, Astronomy, Philosophy, Ethics, Evolution of Search Engines and programming languages like python… what I was doing when I randomly picked one of these topics was simple- I had decided I wanted to know learn more about this subject area.
I do not aspire to master any one of these fields. Sure, i pour hours of my life into Quora and iTunesU… but the purpose is to be a traveller. To get the basics so I may explore any topic I wish to in detail… at a later date. If that sounds vague and uninteresting, well, it is. But reading a wide variety of topics is my substitute for gaining experiences. I wanted to learn about Astronomy because I had spent a few weekends listening to all the TED conferences about space travel and followed that with a course on basic astronomy from iTunesU. I never wanted to go out and buy a Telescope and gaze at the heavens, but the knowledge would fuel my imagination in other ways. Would I be able to think of a new sci-fi book? Would I be able to use what I had been reading about the future of ‘inter-continental’ internet and build new products at my workplace?
In short, the reason for all this reading is that it could make me a creative thinker. I do not for a moment think that this is easily done. On no! It would take work. it would take all of my spare time and more. There would be sleepless nights when I would hastily finish reading a book and then watch a video summary about some random topic that I wanted to learn about… Maybe I would write about it next and then take a course in coursera to delve deeper. Finally at the end of a weekend, I may sit down and write a program or network with someone who is working in the same space. Reading research papers is not a stupid hobby any more, it could lead to a new role, a new product… This really could be something where time invested gave astounding returns.
And yes, so this ad-hoc approach to learning… won.
Here are some of the sources I would recommend to anyone:
Making learning the ultimate hobby, the lifetime hobby is perhaps the most sensible decision I ever made. I have noticed improvements in my conversations with others- where I can make insightful observations and humorous anecdotes. But more importantly, It also has made me an excellent ad-hoc researcher and a Google Search expert. I can locate documents I need and try and find information quickly. I can expand both the complexity of my ideas and the scale of their impact. A little imagination can go a long way!
In some ways of course, I cheated. But putting learning as my hobby, I have integrated watching movies/YouTube and reading together. Weren’t they the strong contenders for my free time anyway? Essentially what I have done then, is to curate the content that I read. I have created a system around the chaos that was all of my internet searches and streamlined what I watch, what I read and what I put aside as unimportant. Sure my bookmarks jumped to a whopping 183 links, but they are categorized and it makes my search easier.
Anyway- that’s my hobby- to learn. Right now I am spending time on learning R, a statistical programming language and everything I can about microfinance industry. And, I continue to write!! So… yay!