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The Nature of Learning According to US Marines

In two recent episodes of Jocko Podcast, Jocko and Co. discussed MCDP 7 – a new Marine Corps publication describing the learning philosophy of Marines. While the MCDP 7 document is written for Marines, it is packed full of powerful, easily applicable lessons. Whether your a student, athlete, musician, academic, business professional – you name it – you can learn something from MCDP 7.

Jocko Podcast 227 w/ Dave Berke: Learning for Ultimate Winning. New, MCDP 7 Learning.

The Jocko podcast episodes do a fantastic job of unpacking MCDP 7 in detail and translating it for use outside of the arena of war, albeit over two long episodes. While we strongly recommend taking the time to listen to them and read the full MCDP 7 publication, we want to emphasize the importance of the first chapter, The Nature of Learning. There are easily 15-20 lessons in this chapter alone, but we created a condensed list of our five favourite takeaways that can (and should) be utilized by everyone right away.

Jocko Podcast 228 w Dave Berke. Put Pressure on Your Mind. Be Your General. Be Your Soldiers MCDP 7

1. There is more to learning than reciting information.

Learning involves mental, physical, social, emotional, and other factors that are learned in both formal and informal settings. The learning process is divided into training and education; Training is the learning-by-doing component, while education involves studying and intellectual development. Both elements are critical to learning success.

2. Gain the “intellectual edge.”

Combining knowledge and experience will improve problem-solving, mental imaging, and other cognitive competencies that enable faster and more effective decision-making – even under time constraints or when exposed to imperfect information. 

3. Enhance your memory.

Technology is a valuable tool to master, but it isn’t failproof. Relying solely on technology can backfire when time is of the essence, or when the technology malfunctions. The mind must be able to recall the necessary knowledge instinctively in high-pressure scenarios, which requires consistent practice.

4. Learning is hard. Don’t make it harder.

The learning process can be a difficult one, and a lack of self-awareness, humility and time management will only make things worse. To be a better learner, one must better understand themselves.

5. Learn vicariously.

Learning by doing is required, but don’t underestimate the importance of learning through others by reading or otherwise studying their experiences.

These takeaways are just the tip of the iceberg, so be sure to read the full MCDP-7 publication (download link below) and listen to both Jocko Podcast episodes (embedded above).

Looking for more Jocko wisdom? Check out his podcast episodes or books—all of them.

Free Your Mind.

-CL