The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

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What Is 'Pattern Matching'?

Our brains are Pattern Matching machines, constantly trying to find patterns and associating them with previous patterns.

This happens unconsciously, your brain does it simply by paying attention to the world.

Humans learn patterns primarily via Experimentation.

Patterns get stored in our memory, waiting to be recalled. This process is optimized for speed to help you remember things quickly, not accurately. The more accurate patterns you've learned, the more options you have when solving a problem.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Pattern Matching'

Long before you knew what gravity was, you knew that a ball would move towards the ground if you released it. The first few times you let go of a ball, it would always fall to the ground. It didn't take many such experiences for you to learn that any object you released would fall.

Gravity is just a name for something your brain learned by itself.

One of the most interesting things about the brain is its ability to automatically learn and recognize patterns.

Think of Pavlov's famous dogs: ring a bell, and they'll start to salivate. Pavlov taught them a pattern: every time the bell rings, food is on the way. It didn't take long for the dogs to learn the pattern, so they'd respond even before the food appeared.

Our brains are natural Pattern Matching machines.

The brain is constantly busy trying to find patterns in what we perceive, then associating new patterns with other patterns that are stored in memory. This pattern matching process happens automatically, without conscious effort. Simply by paying attention to the world around you, your brain is collecting new patterns and adding them to memory.

Humans learn patterns primarily via Experimentation.

If a small child wants to be held by its mother, it doesn't take long to try several different approaches and learn which response typically produces the desired result, typically "If I cry, mom is going to pick me up and hold me." From then on, the child will rely on the pattern whenever it desires the result.

You can think of your memory as the database of patterns you've learned via past experience. Patterns get stored in our long-term memory, waiting to be used to determine responses to new or uncommon situations.

Recall is optimized for speed, not accuracy-the brain stores information contextually, which helps you recall related patterns quickly when you need them. That's why the best way to find a set of lost keys is to mentally walk through all of the places you've been recently-the context makes it easier to recall the information.

The more accurate patterns you've learned, the more options you have when solving new problems.

Pattern Matching is one of the primary reasons experienced people tend to make better decisions than inexperienced people-they've learned more accurate patterns via their experience. Having a larger mental database to draw from is what gives experts their expertise.

Pattern matching is one of the foundational capabilities of our mind and how it works. The more accurate patterns you have stored in your memory, the more quickly and accurately you can respond to whatever life throws at you.

Questions About 'Pattern Matching'


"Your memory is a monster; you forget — it doesn't. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you—and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!"

John Irving, novelist and Academy Award–winning screenwriter


From Chapter 6:

The Human Mind


https://personalmba.com/pattern-matching/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

More about Josh Kaufman →