Be Bad First | Erika Andersen

Summary of: Be Bad First: Get Good at Things Fast to Stay Ready for the Future
By: Erika Andersen


In the fast-paced world of constant change and rapidly advancing technology, adaptability is essential. In the book Be Bad First: Get Good at Things Fast to Stay Ready for the Future, author Erika Andersen guides readers on how to engage in lifelong learning and embrace the discomfort of trying something new, knowing full well that they will be bad at it first. Along the way, you will discover the ANEW model, which includes Aspiration, Neutral self-awareness, Endless curiosity, and Willingness to be bad first, as four vital skills for effectively mastering new challenges. Delve into the stories of ‘power learners’ like Michelangelo, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs, and learn strategies to bolster your desire, curiosity and dedication when acquiring new skills.

Embrace Beginnerhood

The book emphasizes the need for continuous learning in today’s ever-evolving job market. It highlights the importance of overcoming the fear of being a novice, and embracing the discomfort that comes with learning something new. The author expands on the “self-determination theory” and explains how mastery, autonomy, and purpose are the three drivers of human behavior. The debunked theory of human learning that claimed people had a finite number of brain cells has been proven wrong, as the human brain has a lifelong capacity for learning.

The ANEW Model of Mastery

The ANEW model of mastery identifies the four skills of power learners such as Michelangelo, Einstein, Curie, and Jobs: Aspiration, Neutral self-awareness, Endless curiosity, and Willingness to be bad first. The model emphasizes the critical nature of curiosity in acquiring new knowledge and skills. Michelangelo’s project to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel exemplifies how tapping into one’s curiosity can motivate one to acquire new knowledge and skills. The ANEW model’s neutral self-awareness skill highlights the importance of having an objective assessment of one’s current skills and experience before embarking on a new learning journey. The model’s willingness to be bad first skill emphasizes having the courage to accept that one may not be perfect at first and leveraging experiences to learn from mistakes and improve.

The Power of True Aspiration

When you accurately gauge your level of desire towards something, it can push you towards your goals. Most people choose the easiest option when learning something new, but taking on challenges outside of your comfort zone is vital to keep pace with the world’s changing trends. In Ron’s example, being resistant to reskilling in his job might lead to unemployment, but by finding the aspiration to learn, he can succeed.

Igniting Passion for New Skills

To overcome your resistance to learning new skills, activate your “aspiration muscles” by envisioning the future benefits of competency and the knowledge or skill you may possess. Identifying what motivates you allows you to gain insights into the benefits you deem most valuable. This will help you envision a future in which you’ve attained mastery in a new area using a four-step process that includes selecting a realistic time frame for success and describing specific success factors. Focus on the one or two benefits that ignite your passion and motivation to establish excitement and drive toward your new skill.

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