The learning triangle ~ And the advantage of understanding it.

Sure, there is a learning curve (and we will talk about a really interesting one in a few weeks). But what about the learning triangle? What if we could examine the way information moves with a wide base and a narrow point.

There is an example I recall from years ago but I can’t remember who taught it.

I’m not going to allow that to stop me from showing you though…

You like volcanos?

(For entertainment and dramatic effect, read this in that movie preview voice)

Deep in the belly of the Earth, hot molten rock swirls around looking for a way to get out. The forces build. The magma makes its way toward the surface finding it’s way to the tallest volcano. It hits the base of the volcano, a width that no one knows the start or finish. The years of hardened lava and ash surround the main vent as the magma moves closer to the peak. Then, with the force of 4 billion years, the volcano spews the secrets of Earth into the atmosphere telling of truths and consequences.

That’s pretty dramatic…

I introduce to you The Learning Triangle…

Well.. it’s more of a diagram that illustrates how we obtain and retain information.

The Learning Triangle

The triangle of learning illustrates the stages of information; Things you don’t know, things you have heard before but don’t recall immediately, and things you can readily recall.

The parts of the triangle.

The bottom, the back area, is the largest part of the triangle and illustrats the things you don’t know.

The middle, the gray area, represents the things you’ve heard before but may not recall immediately.

The top, the white area, is the smallest part of the triangle and represents the things that you can readily recall.

You may have heard the conversation of “unknown unknowns,” “known unknowns,” and “known knowns” before but that isn’t really the idea we are going for (plus “known” looks really weird now… like how is that even a word…).

The flow of information

Much like the overly dramatic lava, information moves from the bottom to the top. If you’ll notice, the base of the triangle is the widest part and rightfully shows there is far more that you have never heard or don’t know than there is in any other part of the triangle.

As you go through life and learn through school, conversation, and experience, you move things from the bottom of the triangle to the middle part. Eventually, you gain a very strong knowledge of a vast array of things that move to the upper most part of the triangle.

Here is your advantage…

Since you understand the principle behind the learning triangle, you can now take advantage of it. You can both find more things in the grey area and move more things to the top.

And it’s really simple…

Spend focussed time reading and discussing unlikely and not-connected things. Concentrate on moving things from the black area to the grey area of the triangle. When you pack that grey area full of information, you give yourself a chance to discover things you didn’t even know that you knew.

Life will move things from the middle to the top whenever those things are available.

Have you ever said something like, “I don’t even know why I knew that” or “I don’t know how I know this but…?”

That is life moving things from the middle to the top because you moved it from the base to the middle somewhere along the line.

The Strategy

Experience. Life.

man that was easy…

Can you do this?

Can you spend time talking about things that may not be your normal conversation? Perhaps find time to read something that wouldn’t regularly pique your interest.

If you can, you will find yourself moving things to the grey area without much thought or effort and eventually setting yourself up to “know” things that you never thought you would.

Let’s be better; together.




I am Rashad. I'm an entrepreneur with over 15 years of cultivating relationships, chasing ideas, and over delivering on promises. I want to share some of the things I've learned along the way with you. Hopefully, it will inspire you to define and achieve your personal definition of success.