How We Learn: The Four Pillars for Learning Anything

In today’s fast-paced world, the ability to learn, adapt, and innovate is essential for personal and professional growth. Stanislas Dehaene’s book, “How We Learn,” offers valuable insights into the science of learning and memory.

In this blog post, we will explore the four essential pillars for effective learning, I have converted this into an acronym that makes it easier to remember: known as the P.A.C.E framework: Paying Attention, Active Engagement, Corrective Feedback, and Eventual Automaticity.

Let’s delve into each of these pillars and understand how they can revolutionize your approach to learning and personal growth.


The first pillar of effective learning is Paying Attention. Just like a leader seeking growth must be highly focused and pinpointed in their approach, paying attention involves being specific about what you want to learn.

Whether it’s leadership skills, delegation, communication, or any other area of growth, self-awareness is the foundation for development.

This pillar requires you to ask yourself what you want to achieve and where to focus your attention.

Example: If you’re aiming to become a better leader, paying attention means being conscious of the specific leadership skills you want to enhance, such as empowering others, casting vision, or effective communication.


The second pillar is Active Engagement. Stanislas Dehaene emphasizes that true learning occurs when we are actively engaged in the learning process.

As a leader seeking growth, this implies immersing yourself in opportunities for growth.

To enhance your leadership capabilities, you need to proactively pursue experiences that allow you to practice and develop your skills.

Example: If your goal is to lead a larger team effectively, active engagement requires seeking opportunities to practice and improve your abilities in areas such as empowering team members.


The third pillar, Corrective Feedback, is crucial for growth as a leader. Seeking feedback from peers, team members, and self-observation allows you to identify areas for improvement.

Tracking and assessing your behaviour and making necessary adjustments are essential for growth.

Example: If you notice that you tend to interrupt people during meetings, corrective feedback involves recognizing this behaviour and actively working to change it, perhaps by listening more and asking questions before sharing your own opinions.


The fourth and final pillar, Eventual Automaticity, marks the stage in your learning journey when newly acquired skills become second nature.

It’s when your brain shifts from conscious effort to autopilot mode. This transformation happens through repeated practice and, interestingly, primarily while you sleep.

Example: For a leader, eventual automaticity means reaching a point where effective leadership becomes almost instinctual. Over time, with practice and experience, your decision-making, for instance, becomes more natural and intuitive.


In a rapidly evolving world, the ability to learn effectively is a critical skill. Stanislas Dehaene’s Pillars that I have turned into the P.A.C.E framework, comprising Paying Attention, Active Engagement, Corrective Feedback, and Eventual Automaticity, offers a powerful roadmap for personal and professional growth.

You can grab a copy of the book from Amazon here

Whether you’re a CEO, entrepreneur, or a leader in a small business, understanding and applying these principles can help unlock your full learning potential.

Embrace this framework, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a more adaptable, innovative, and successful learner and leader.

Remember, it’s all about setting the P.A.C.E for your journey of growth.

You can watch me summaries this in this video below:

About the Author

Toye Oshunbiyi
Founder and CEO of Business Leaders Coach
Is a leadership and business coach helping to develop conscious business leaders in the SME space.

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