Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life

🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. Intelligence is not fixed; you can become smarter, faster, and more creative.
  2. There are tools, techniques, and habits you can use to continually learn and grow.
  3. Growth requires time and discipline so be patient and kind with yourself, and stick with it!

🎨 Impressions

This isn’t a read it once and be done with it book. It’s more of a manual to study and review because there are a lot of tools, techniques, and concepts here that need to be revisited.

Who Should Read It?

Anyone who considers themselves a lifelong learner. People who want to become lifelong learners and are willing to do the work.

☘️ How the Book Changed Me

The book helped kickstart me into being more deliberate about developing new habits for learning. Especially the section on note-taking and study because I want to be more deliberate about getting the most out of what I read.

✍️ My Top 3 Quotes

  1. When you learn new ways to learn, it can be more fun, enjoyable, and easier.
  2. There is no such thing as failure. You only fail when you stop trying.
  3. Knowledge alone is useless. You have to do something with the knowledge to make it powerful.

📒 Summary + Notes

Acronym to learn better FASTER:

F – Forget: Think “beginners mind”, forget what you think you already know, forget distractions and limitations.
A – Act: Make learning active.
S – State: Learning is state dependent. If you’re not into what you’re learning, you won’t learn it. Make learning fun, embrace curiosity and the joy of learning.
T – Teach: Learn with the intention of teaching.
E – Enter learning time into a calendar.
R – Review: Make time for review, preferably before each new session.

Ask the right questions in everything you want to learn. What is your one DOMINANT question? What is ONE dominant question?

Jim asks himself these three questions when learning something

  • How can I use this?
  • Why must I use this?
  • When will I use this?

Chapter 5: The Spell of Belief Systems

Learn to question your beliefs.

  • How many of my perceived limitations are lies and BS?
  • Why do my beliefs have such an effect on my life?
  • Why do my limiting beliefs keep me from my goals?
  • How do I reject limiting beliefs?
  • How do I face my limiting belifs?

The myth of genius

There are multiple forms of genius. People can be smart in different ways.

  • Dynamic genius – Galileo, Shakespeare – express through creativity and ideas. Usually what most people think about when they think about genius.
  • Blaze genius – Oprah – master communicators.
  • Tempo genius – Nelson Mandela – can see the big picture and stay the course.
  • Steel genius – Sergey Brin – use details in ways others can’t or are able to see details others miss.

How to minimize limiting beliefs

  • Name your limiting beliefs. This requires discipline and is a habit to develop. Pay attention to every time a limiting belief surfaces and try to find the source. Talk back!
  • Get to the facts. Limiting beliefs are often wrong. Is there any evidence supporting the limiting belief?
  • Create a new belief.
  • Draw inspiration from the impressive accomplishments of others (chances are if they can do it so can I).

Chapter 6: The 7 Lies of Learning

  • What are the most limiting myths I tell myself?
  • How can I overcome the effect of these myths?
  • How can I turn these limiting beliefs into positive ones?

Lie 1 – Intelligence is fixed

It’s difficult to accomplish something when you don’t believe it can be done in the first place. A growth mindset gives us the ability to improve anything.

New belief: Intelligence is fluid.

Lie 2 – We only use 10% of our brains

New belief: I’m learning to use my whole brain the best way possible.

Lie 3 – Mistakes are failures

Albert Einstein was considered slow and a below-average student. He made tons of mistakes. Mistakes are lessons. They mean you’re trying!

New belief: There is no such thing as failure. You only fail when you stop trying.

Lie 4 – Knowledge is power

Knowledge alone is useless. You have to do something with the knowledge to make it powerful.

New belief: Knowledge plus action is power.

Lie 5 – Learning new things is very difficult

Approach learning with patience, a positive attitude, and adaptability to your own needs.

New belief: When you learn new ways to learn, it can be more fun, enjoyable, and easier.

Lie 6 – Criticism from other people matters

New belief: It’s not anyone elses job to like or respect me. It’s mine.

Lie 7 – Genius is born

There is always method behind what looks like magic.

New belief: Genius is not born, it’s made through deep practice.

Keep an eye out for conventional wisdom that puts constraints on you and examine it very carefully.

Motivation is not something you have, it’s something you do. Motivation = Purpose x energy x S3 (small simple steps)

Chapter 7: Purpose

  • How do certain defining phrases determine who you are?
  • How do your values define you?
  • What does your sense of purpose say about who you are?
  • Why do I do what I do? Can I explain it to people?

Make sure your goals are:

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Actionable
R – Realistic
T – Timely

H – Healthy
E – Enduring (inspiring and sustaining)
A – Alluring (they should draw you in)
R – Relevant (why am I doing this?)
T – True (to yourself)

Purpose is about what you’re here to share with the world. It’s how you use passion.

Values have to be in alignment with goals.

Chatper 8: Energy

  • How do you make sure your brain is as healthy and energized as possible?
  • What should I make sure to have in my diet if I want my brain to be it’s strongest?
  • How do I consistently get a good nights sleep?

What are your automatic negative thoughts?

Chapter 9: Small Simple Steps

  • What is the smallest simple step I can take right now?
  • How do I start good habits or end bad ones?
  • What daily routines will help me become limitless?

It can take anywhere from 18-254 days to establish a new habit. So be patient and stick with it! It’s also more effective to replace a bad habit than to try to stop doing it.

There are different types of habit motivators. Some of them are:

  • Seeking pleasure or avoiding pain.
  • Gaining hope or avoiding fear.
  • Gaining social acceptance or avoiding social rejection.

W – Want: You have to want to do the new habit. Does one of the motivators apply?
I – Innate: Does the new habit align with your innate abilities or something you know you could be goot at?
N – Now: Create a prompt or reminder to do the new habit now.

Chapter 10: Flow

  • Why is flow so important to becoming limitless?
  • How do I achieve a flow state?
  • What are the key enemies of flow?

Finding the flow state:

  • Eliminate distractions.
  • Give yourself time. 15-45 minutes to achieve a flow state. Try for 90-120 minutes.
  • Do something you love.
  • Have clear goals.
  • Challenge yourself, a little.

Perfectionism is the enemy of flow.

Chapter 11: Focus

  • What can I learn from what I’m like when I’m most focused?
  • How can I increase my ability to concentrate?
  • How do I limit distractions and calm my mind?

Chatper 12: Study

  • How can I optimize my study time?
  • Is cramming the best way to learn?
  • How do I become a better note taker?

The four levels of competence:

  1. Unconscious incompetence – when you don’t know what you don’t know.
  2. Conscious incompetence – when you’re aware that there’s something you don’t know.
  3. Conscious competence – you’re aware of and have the capacity for a skill but only when you actively put your mind to it.
  4. Unconscious competence – the skill is second nature and automatic.

Study habits to get the most out of what you’re learning:

  • Active recall
    • Review material.
    • Wrhite down or recite everything you remember.
    • Look at the material again to see how much you remember.
  • Spaced repetition
    • Space out your review focusing on material you haven’t remembered in the past.
  • Manage your state
    • Your emotional state and even posture affect your mental performance.
  • Use smells
    • Rosemary improves memory, peppermint and lemon promote concentration.
    • Your sense of smell is strongly linked to memroy. Smell something before you study and then again when you need to recall the information.

Listen with your whole brain:

H – Halt all distractions and focus.
E – Empathy: Imagine yourself in the speakers shoes. Understand where they’re coming from.
A – Anticipate and engage enthusiastically.
R – Review: Ask clarifying questions. Take notes and paraphrase in your own words.

Effective note taking:

  • Have a goal. Ask yourself; why am I taking these notes?
  • Use your own words and vocabulary.
  • Listen intently. Pay attention to emphasis.
  • Review material immediately while the material is still fresh so you can fill in the gaps.

Chapter 13: Memory

  • How can I improve my memory now?
  • How can I keep a big chunk of info in memory?
  • How can I access it when I need it?

Association: To remember something new, you have to associate it in your mind with something you already know.

Add emotion (action, adventure, humor) to make things more memorable.

Use the Loci method (memory palace) to remember large amounts of information

To remember talking points for a speech for example:

  1. Pick ten major talking points.
  2. Imagine a physical place you know well (ex. your childhood home).
  3. Imagine a path through that place and pick ten spots you can identify quickly.
  4. Assign a talking point to each location making the order of the locations match the order of the talking points.
  5. When giving your speech, visualize the path through the place you picked and see the talking points at each location.

Chapter 14: Speed Reading

  • Why is it important to read?
  • How do I increase reading focus and comprehension?
  • How can I get more out of every reading experience?

Chapter 15: Thinking

  • Why is it important to think from different perspectives?
  • What are the various ways people use intelligence?
  • What superpowers can I harness by thinking differently?

The six thinking hats

Group thinking into six distinct functions to keep it fresh and potentially get out of a thinking rut:

  1. White hat – Information gathering. Getting all the necessary facts and details.
  2. Yellow hat – Bring optimism and highlight the positives that come from the problem or challenge.
  3. Black hat – Indentify difficulties, pitfalls, and consequences of failing to address the challenge.
  4. Red hat – Allow feeling and emotion to come into play, and possibly fears.
  5. Green hat – Creativity. What new ideas can you come up with to address the problem?
  6. Blue hat – Management. Make sure to address the problem productively, set goals, benefit from all the other hats.

What problem do you want to solve right now?