Be a Permissionless Student

What it means to be a permissionless student, and how you can build your own curriculum to become a master of your field and achieve world-class success.

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Learning is the most critical skill of this generation. Previously, I wrote about the learning skills you should master and build lifelong habits around. Among the six skills, I mentioned self-learning while not waiting for a structured curriculum.
Self-learning is the difference between waiting for a structured curriculum and guidance and being a permission-less student who teaches themselves from resources.
Self-taught students don’t rely on any courses, online or otherwise. They are able to create their own learning plans by combining several sources. This is an invaluable skill in itself after 2020, but being a permissionless student goes one step even further.
In this post, I will dive into what it means to be a permissionless student, and how you can build your own curriculum to teach yourself without waiting for courses or certificates.

The Permissionless Student

The Permissionless Student is self-taught, and has mastered the art of self-learning. They use a combination of free and paid resources from an eclectic range of sources to design a personal learning plan that enables them to master any new subject quickly and effectively.
The Permissionless Student does not wait for a teacher to create effective curricula or structured courses, being aware that they will become an excellent teacher themselves when they attain mastery through self-learning and deliberate practice. Over time, they become widely sought-after teachers and mentors in their fields, being master communicators and brilliant educators.
The Permissionless Student learns a wide range of subjects and is a master of several skills that are complementary to their main area of focus. They are excited to learn new subjects, and to identify patterns that will enhance their knowledge of the primary areas of their focus.
Finally, the Permissionless Student is a master content creator, designing new content filled with value, quickly and consistently. They do this with a strong personal knowledge management system that allows them to store and manage their extensive knowledge base spanning years, sources, and subjects, and using which they are able to create content, educational material, and talks that attract thousands of students.

Why You Should Be a Permissionless Student

If learning is the most important skill of this generation, being a Permisisonless Student is the best way to become a master learner. As a self-taught student, you can connect dots and observe patterns that go unnoticed by students of structured courses. Self-learning is also the best way to become a world-class teacher because you know exactly what mistakes to avoid and what concepts to focus on.
Permissionless learning allows you much more freedom and ability to learn at your own pace, giving you more space when you need it, and accelerating your journey when you’ve mastered the fundamentals. With the internet connecting you to the best people in the world in your field, you can also receive help from authentic and reliable sources when you need it.
The best online creators today are permissionless students, and they have become self-taught masters of their fields and are now world-class educators.

Learning Without a Structured Curriculum

Being a permissionless student also includes four aspects as I identified above: they are self-taught, but are also excellent educators, experts of several subjects, and own a superior personal knowledge management system. But it all begins with being a student who is a master of self-learning.
In this post, we’ll explore how to learn effectively, designing your personal learning plan using free and paid resources online.

Eclectic Resources

Self-taught learnings rely on a blend of eclectic sources that are not immediately obvious as educational material. YouTube is usually the most popular source for self-taught learners who design their own curriculum. But permissionless students also use online forums, blogs, newsletters, and even Twitter and Instagram to supplement their learning.
For instance, if you’re learning digital marketing, you would subscribe to all popular YouTube channels and newsletters in the field, and also follow popular accounts on Twitter and Instagram. This will keep you updated with the latest trends and best practices in the field, while teaching you bite-sized information each day.
Combined with an effective quick capture and note-taking system in your personal knowledge management dashboard, you will quickly amass a wealth of information, not only in your primary field (marketing) but also in complementary areas, such as SEO, UI/UX, design, etc.

Trial and Error

Trial and error is an underrated form of learning, usually discounted due to its time-taking and inefficiencies in finding the correct answers. But in the process of trial and error, you learn much more than if you arrived at your answer immediately. Each error shows you not only the incorrect way of arriving at your answer but also shows you how to find an answer to a different question.
The more tries and errors, the more you learn how to achieve different outcomes. Permissionless Students are never afraid to skip the manual, attempt several different ways to find the answer, and use each error to document new learning.

Learning by Building

The first aspect of this learning technique is trial and error, as we explored above. You learn something by building something on your own, without following an established method of arriving at the ‘right’ answer. The other aspect of learning by building is applying the theory to practice in the real world.
The best way to learn something is to reduce the time between learning theory and implementing it in practice. In other words, effective learners minimize the friction of applying their learning in practice. Permissionless Students do not leave any time between learning and practice, and they apply their learning to the real world immediately to observe the results and enhance their understanding of the subject.
Reducing the friction and time between learning theory and implementation through practice increases retention, and gives you a chance to quickly find answers to any questions as the source is right next to you. All of this solidifies your learning, and you can easily repeat the same process without guidance next time.
If you’re reading a book, you take notes on what you learn at the end of each reading session. If you’re learning to code through a video lecture, you open your editor next to the video and implement the tips immediately. If you’re learning art, practice the steps with the teacher in real time.

Learning by Teaching

I’ve defined a Permissionless Student as someone who is a world-class educator, but it works the other way around as well. One of the best ways to learn something is through teaching. You don’t need to be a subject expert to become a teacher, you can be one step ahead of your peers, who you can educate on topics you’ve just learned.
In fact, I’ll go one step further and say that you’re likely to be in a better position to teach your peers than established teachers in your field because you’re more patient when you have more time with your students. And since the topic is fresh in your mind, you can guide your students against the mistakes you made, while teaching tips that helped you on your journey.
Being a teacher also gives you credibility in your subject, and you quickly gain popularity in your field. Finally, it is easier to gain traction for your ideas as a teacher who mentors people in your field.
Learning and teaching are both long-term journeys, and each feeds into the other to make you a master of your field.

Next Steps

I’m a passionate believer in lifelong learning, and I believe that it is the most impactful skill you can have in your arsenal today. I’ve identified six skills related to learning that you should master, irrespective of your age or expertise levels. Start with these skills and build them into daily habits to become an effective learner.

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