I want to clear the air and say, it does not matter the new skill you want to learn. A form of dance, how to write lyrics, reading faster, solving problems; they are all achievable and it does not have to take 10,000 hours.
10,000 Hours of Practice, Malcolm Gladwell says that is how long it takes to achieve mastery. But whatever you want to learn will be decided in the first 48 hours. You heard me right! The first 48 hours will determine if you will get good enough to enjoy what you want to learn.
Pay close attention, because I can’t stress how important the first 48 hours are!
It is in the first 48 hours you will want to give up. The first few hours are frustrating and uncomfortable. No one likes being a newbie, but learning doesn’t have to be difficult. So don’t make it.
Nobody loves the process. Its pain. I know I didn’t like it at first, but it’s a must if you wish for a joyful life. The process is your greatest mentor, not the arrival. The Arrival is when you want to stop and not feel any more pain.
By now, I know what many of you are thinking. “Well, James it’s easy for you say, but I don’t have time.”
Ok, think outside the box. Break 48 hours to 3-4 hours a day and spread it through the month.
Nobody ever seems to have time.
If you can’t make time, then don’t even try it. Putting one foot in and leaving one foot out is a sure way to failure. Why go through the pain of disappointment?
If it’s important enough to you to learn whatever it is you want to learn, that is great. You can do it on the side of your current job.
Pat yourself on the back for taking these steps to better the most important thing in this world – You. Most people, 99%, don’t ever commit to learning anything new. It’s more fun to tell people about what they want to learn.
If I took a look at the analytics for this post. If it said 500 people saw it, only about 5 read it from top to bottom. The other 495 were just too lazy to bother. They skimmed it. five people learned something, the rest came to waste their time. Either because they think they already know it or as I said before – Lazy.
Well, let me shut up in the intro.
Here are the simple three steps (+Bonus, so stick around) to mastering any new skill quickly.
Observe Through A Childs Eyes
Many wouldn’t think this would or should be a step in mastering a new skill. But how can one learn without a teacher. (I say teacher as a metaphor.) Life is the greatest teacher, but a friend or family member can also teach you.
Babies don’t pop out and say “hey mom, thanks for the push it was getting a little cramped in there.” No, they know nothing. For 1-2 years they listen and they watch. After watching for about two years they begin to try to walk and speak.
Keep your mouth shut and let your eyes ask the questions. Sometimes what doesn’t make sense is what will work. Be open to ideas. Keep an open mind.
Put that big brain of yours to work and see the steps. Visualizing along with action puts you at a better position to get it quicker.
It’s like when my (ex) friend was teaching me how to drive a stick shift car. I hated it. First day he screamed, he yelled and I just could not get it for the life of me, no matter how easy he tried to make it. (and he wanted to start me off on an actual road. Ha!)
We went home after a few hours of practice, but I could not stop thinking about it. Being a visual memorizer, I sat in the corner of my room just thinking. “Press clutch, release, press gas?” I spent the rest of my waking hours visualizing.
I fell asleep and the strangest thing happened. I dreamed I was driving a stick shift car. The steps played out so easily. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to slap myself when I woke up.
Later that afternoon, I remembered the images from the dream and I was able to drive the car without it dying on me or being screamed at. Within the week, I was driving myself to work.
Be your own teacher while learning from someone else, or life. Be hard on yourself, but know when to be easy as well. The perfect balance is critical.
- If you want to learn an instrument as an example, youtube is a great mentor. I have learned more about anything through google than the years I wasted in school.
Put it in action
This is a struggle for a lot of people.
The reason is usually people try to compare their selves to someone else and get disappointed, or they overthink it. When you are new at something it will never look good in the beginning and some people, (talking about me) It never looks good… ever.
Competition is failure! The only person you should be competing with is yourself. You are your greatest asset and your worst enemy. Compete with the old you to learn this new skill.
Not competing should make things easier.
Taking action is crucial. Without action, there is no need to plan.
Chunk it down
Taking action doesn’t have to be hard. The best way to eat a big meal is to use a fork and knife and cut it down to smaller bites. I think we can all agree sticking the entire meal in your mouth is a great way to see if God exists.
Be like a sniper and aim for one, don’t aim like a shotgun. Make a detailed list to help you eliminate the less important.
What I notice is, a lot of skills no matter how different follow a pattern. They contain sub-categories and some are more important than others. Tackle the most important sub-category. Trying to do too many is like texting while holding hot coffee, trying to cross a busy street. Not the best example, but you get what I’m saying.
If you are out of shape, don’t go to the gym and hop on the treadmill first thing. It wouldn’t work anyways. You would get what they call “itchy legs” from lack of blood flow.
Chunk it down. Yes, I realize I am being a parrot, but it’s worth repeating.
Do some stretches, a few weightless squats, and lunges for the first few days.
A bad habit to break is feeling less motivated due to not feeling any changes. Haven’t you ever noticed when some part of your body changes, the first to notice are your friends. The people that spend less time with you.
Small amounts of success will help you carry on when things seem to get hard, or you don’t notice big changes.
Practice and consistency
Tiny efforts create massive results.
If you want lasting results, practice daily, even when you don’t feel like it. Your mind would prefer things be easier because whatever requires a great amount of force we tend not to do. We would prefer doing something exciting like going out with friends or scroll down Facebook’s wall.
A great technique to adopt is that of the weight lifter. He sets a pre-determined goal of 10 reps. When he reaches 8 and feels tired like he’s about to give up, he reminds himself. “Just two left.” He knows it’s almost over. He’ll either hit that 10 rep or fail trying.
Set predetermined goals. 3 hours a day no matter what, even if you have to break those three hours up to different timelines.
When the three hours start its absolute focus. The tv you left on for light, family, phone calls, and anything else that can distract needs to be out of sight or off.
Learn how to deal with frustration. There will be a lot of it. Remember, 48 hours. Once you hit that threshold you will see a difference.
If on the other hand, you are in a position to put in more than 3 hours a day, do it.
Practice, like learning a new language. If you want to learn Russian, don’t hang around Hispanics, and don’t hang around Americans. How will they teach you Russian? Hang around Russians and speak only in Russian.
You will sound terrible, but nothing ever looked good without first being ugly. Just look at me if you don’t believe it. I’m beautiful now.
You can call yourself a failure when you quit, but sheer persistence will get you through anything. The final say is always on you.
Give back – Teach
This is a bonus from me.
Like making money, you should give back to the community once you have it.
Teach what you’ve learned to someone else, or to a group. It doesn’t matter. Teaching can also teach you something you don’t already know.
When we learn something and become good at it, we tend to forget the little things that make a difference.
We forget to self-asses to see what we’ve been neglecting; now that our minds are at a higher peak, kind of like the big blogs that forget about their readers, because they don’t have to struggle to get any anymore.
Teaching is another form of practice.
Practice! For those that think it’s too hard or takes too long, the time will pass anyways. What are you going to do? You might as well just do it.
After hitting 48 hours, if you feel it’s beneficial, continue to practice. I say you should. You can never learn too much.
These steps are simple. Only because the greatest answers to the hardest questions are simple. Complicated answers are just that… Complicated.
Life is short. Learn the important skills and ditch the rest. The more you know the higher your value. Learning a new skill is always worth it. Do something with that knowledge. Start a blog, or write a book. Many people are willing to pay for your skills.
I have given you the simple formula for becoming a master. Don’t just hoard the information, put it to use. Start by making a commitment in the comments below. What new skill will you learn in the coming months and how will you put it into practice?