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The human mind is capable of achieving more than people think it actually can. That is the bold statement of Barbara Oakley, author and an engineering professor at Oakland University. She is also an accomplished translator with extensive years of experience in the army and various disciplines.

In her book entitled “Mindshift“, Oakley writes about adapting to change and new technologies in order to keep up with the times—no matter what age or background you may be from. The professor and author of multiple inspirational and motivational books expound on broadening or exploring other passions instead of just focusing on one in order to become more adaptable to change.

Her books are drawn both from her wealth of experience as well as years of profiling people who have overcome their own personal and learning limitations in order to succeed. Bad traits such as poor memory or an aversion to particular subjects, such as math or higher sciences, should not be seen as obstacles. Even advancing in age can become a strong suit when it comes to pursuing a field later in life.

an infographic detailing the art of learning concept of Barbara Oakley
Barbara Oakley teaches the largest MOOCs

Barbara Oakley Shifted Her Mind for Learning

Oakley herself was afraid of numbers during her youth. Nevertheless, with constant training and a shift in focus, she was able to overcome her aversion to math and became an engineering professor. More than anything, Oakley developed a love for learning and went on to study the art of learning itself —going across multiple disciplines and picking up nuggets of wisdom along the way.

During her stint in the military, she rose through the ranks to become a captain while being a distinguished military scholar. Her aptitude for language made it easy for her to learn and become an expert Russian translator sailing on the high seas on board Soviet trawlers. She spent months in the bitter cold of the South Pole Station in Antarctica working as a communications expert.

Indeed, Barbara Oakley’s books have helped thousands of people overcome their fears of learning. In fact, one of her other books, “A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra)” was in the New York Times bestseller list. Her latest book “Mindshift” explores how we can become better learners. Surely, Barbara Oakley stresses that missed options and opportunities can open people up to the world of “potential passions”, eventually changing their perception of what they’re good at and what they can be successful at doing in the future.

Looking at Barbara Oakley, we can boldly say: If she can do it, you can certainly do it, too!

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