10 000 hours: that’s how much practice you need to put in before you can master a skill, according to Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author of “Outliers.” That’s approximately 1.5 hours a day for 20 years.
Since then, though, this 10,000 rule has been called into question many times. Psychologist Anders Ericsson, whose research Gladwell based the rule on, has said that it was an oversimplification of his work since it disregarded the quality of the practice. 10 000 hours of distracted, mistake-laden practice isn’t going to be anywhere near as effective as 10 000 hours of focused practice aimed at consciously correcting mistakes.
In other words, working hard isn’t enough; you need to work smart too. Planning out how you’re going to master a particular skill is crucial. In that regard, here are 7 things you need to do before you can master any skill.
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Whether you’re picking up a new skill or building on an existing one, you need to know what’s driving you. The road to mastery is filled with potholes and other stumbling blocks; it’s not going to be easy, and it will require dedication and commitment.
Without a powerful “why” to keep propelling you forward every time you hit a speed bump, you’ll tire yourself out quickly or eventually lose interest.
It seems obvious; if you want to learn a new skill, get yourself into a learning mindset. So many people, though, get too complacent early on when they first start to see initial improvements. It’s a psychological phenomenon called “The Dunning-Kruger Effect,” where people think they’re better at a given skill than they actually are.
Recognise that you will never achieve perfection regardless of how far along the journey you are. There will always be something new to learn. It’s the reason why Bill Gates reads a book a week, and Mark Zuckerberg reads at least two books a month.
Neglecting strategy in your quest for mastery can prove to be very counterproductive. While you’re not going to have smooth sailing all the way, you can give yourself an edge by playing to your strengths.
Pick a skill you enjoy doing and that you’re good at. Then keep practicing until you become world-class, regardless of whether it’s writing, public speaking, or anything else.
It’s never been easier to teach yourself a given skill than it is today. Despite the plethora of online courses and certificates at your fingertips, though, it doesn’t beat the power of learning from someone who has real-world experience and knowledge on the subject.
Finding a mentor is vital to the pursuit of skill mastery because they can speed up the pace of your learning and improve its quality. Even if you’re a diligent learner, it’s easy to miss mistakes you keep making because you probably don’t know what to look out for. An experienced mentor, though, can do it for you.
Getting good feedback is crucial to the process of learning. The more frequent and specific the feedback is, the better. It goes for both constructive criticism and praise.
When you make mistakes, you want to know where and why you went wrong, as well as how to correct it. Likewise, when you do something right, you need to know what you did right so that you can repeat it in the future.
There’s no such thing as wanting to learn something new while being afraid to fail. It’s precisely because you haven’t mastered something that you need to learn to get better at it. That’s why you are going to fail multiple times before you get it.
Reframe the way you look at failure. Stop thinking of it as a badge of shame and worthlessness, but as a means of expediting your learning. Sara Blakely, the billionaire founder of Spanx, for instance, credits her success to her father’s dinnertime habit of asking his children, “What did you fail at today?”