Is being a slow learner a disadvantage or your superpower?

by | Feb 13, 2023 | Blog

Remember back in college or high school when you had to cram for an exam, and procrastinated until the last hour, and then went, “oh my god, I gotta cram for this exam.”?

You’d stuff as much information as you could into your brain, hope it would be enough and then go take the exam. And afterwards, it was as if you shook your head. Data would vanish from memory like an etch-a-sketch drawing. 

Or was that just me?

That is an example of the disadvantage of fast learning. Learning quickly causes us to forget quickly. It’s when we’re slow learners that we become award winners, and masters of our craft. 

Have you ever heard of the rule of 10,000 hours to mastery? It’s a concept from Malcolm Gladwell’s groundbreaking book “Outliers”. The rule is simple, it takes a minimum of 10,000 hours of intensive practice and commitment to become a master of a complex skill.

As a dance professional, I’ve lived this. I’ve invested 30 years of my life, learning and doing dance, and also learning how to teach it. And it’s amazing to me how many people compare themselves to me, my students, “oh, my God, you do that so effortlessly, you do that so beautifully. I’m not good…, I can’t get it…” What they forget is I have already put in my 10,000 hours, so I will learn something in dance infinitely more quickly than somebody else. It’s simply not a fair comparison.

In short, the benefit of being a slow learner is mastery. 

In fact, I would challenge you to reframe it – instead of slow learners, let’s call it deep learners – because we’re going so deeply into something that it takes time. Deep learning is not a weakness, it is a superpower, and one that I believe is worth celebrating!

If you’re a deep learner, you would love the discussion inside of our Linked In and Facebook Group. Join us to connect with other leaders who are in pursuit of mastery.


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