“In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success
You want to get better at a new skill.
You know it is doable because you can see others doing it.
You are interested and curious about being good at it, maybe not a “Master” but good enough to be confident and share your work with others and earn a few bucks from it.
But that quote up scares you. 10,000 hours!?
This is what stops us from starting new adventure or learning a new skill especially when we factor in the “I don’t have time” excuse of not starting on a new path or the favorite – “I am too old to begin.”
This is not just a problem that stops you from learning a new skill like playing the guitar or learning how to draw.
The thought of how long it would take to learn a new skill – like affiliate marketing or any other high income skill that involves leaving your comfort zone scares you.
Because You are not an expert!
you know you can monetize this skill and earn passively from it but the time factor is a good excuse.
What if it takes less time?
what is it took less than a month to get learn a new skill and be good enough and confident to be considered an “expert?”
Are you willing to try it?
In this post, you would learn 5 easy ways to learn any skill in 20 hours or less.
The 10,000 hour rule
The 10,000 hour rule is a principle made popular from the book Outliers: The story of success by Malcom Gladwell in 2007 which you can read a succinct summary of from here.
Before Gladwell, a professor at Florida State University K anders Ericcson is credited as the originator of the 10,000 hour rule from his study of professional Athletes, Musicians, Chess Grand Masters.
All ultra competitive professionals in narrow ultra competitive fields.
His study is the basis on which Gladwell and other major books on success and mastery of the last decade hang their hats.
The central ideas in Gladwells book is that it takes 10,000 hours of constant practice to gain Mastery of any skill and be at the top. i.e the top 3 percent – the best of the best.
You need to put in 10,000 hours of work to achieve Mastery.
The top tiers in the competitive worlds – the Messi’s, the Michael Jordans, the Bill gates and Mark zuckerbergs of this world are the outliers of our generation.
But you just want to get good enough to build confidence and maybe earn with a skill.
You can be happy and feel good about your abilities and get better at something you have an interest in if you know it takes less time to achieve.
Your definition of success is not to get to the top tier – you’d be happy if you’re good enough to feel confident in your ability.
The 10, 000 hour rule busted
8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 44weeks a year, for 5 years and 6 months = 10,000hours
The initial studies by Ericcsson and the Success of the book Outliers led to a situation where the central premise of both research which says that it takes 10,000 hours to get to expert level mastery – in the most narrow high performance field became
It takes 10,00 hours to get to expert level in any field which later came don to it takes 10,000 hours to get good at something.
No one knows who to blame but soon everyone started saying it takes 10,000 hours to learn a new skill.
With the quote flying everywhere we all made it the new normal but is it?
think of the things you are currently good at.
did it take you 10,000 hours?
I think not.
You have skills now and other talents you are pretty good at and it did not take you close to 10,000 hours to get good at them.
this should tell you something – it is possible to get better at any skill for less than the time frame.
Researcher like to study principles they can time so when they give participants a task to do for the first time the study how long it takes to get it done the first time and subsequently how long it takes to get the same task done whether, physical or mental with practice over time
They found that at first it takes a long time to get the task done because it is new and difficult to you.
if you are to plot a graph it would look something like this
what this means is that, it takes you longer to complete a task when you are getting started.
You could start learning how to write a blog post of 1500 words in 3 hours but with time and practice it would take less time – 1 hour to accomplish that same fit.
Another example is typing 20 words per minute when you start learning to type and with time and practice, you can type 50 or 60 words per minute.
They also discovered that you can get really good at a task during the early part of practice after the initial struggle.
However for you and me, we are really interested on “how good” we can get at any skill to be able to confidently perfume and build on becoming an expert.
if you take the graph above and relabel the performance time with how good you are at a new skill and versus practice time the graph changes to the infamous learning curve.
With the learning curve, you start out grossly incompetent – and you know it.
You can see that in some early things you are good out now.
Find something you are great at now and look at when you started out – you were terrible.
I read some old blog posts to update them and I cringed while I made edits of how bad my writing was.
A year from now, I probably would be dissatisfied with this. – Growth.
But with the learning curve you improve quickly over time with a little bit of practice till you reach a peak where learning new skills requires more effort and the curve begins to grow less quickly.
Your aim is to get there and once you are there you have built up the confidence to go farther.
Not many people would take the time to put in the effort so by just starting you are going to be much better that a lot of people.
The big question now is – how long would it take you from being grossly incompetent and ignorant to be good enough to have the confidence to aspire for great?
the answer is 20 hours! – according to Josh Kaufman
you can go from knowing nothing about any skill you can think of to being reasonably good.
20 focused hours of deliberate and consistent practice.
You would be amazed at the level you can get to.
20hours is about 45 minutes a day for a month.
You can do that right?
Of course, you can.
The 45 minutes can further be broken down into 20 focused minutes in the morning and 25 focused minutes in the evening.
that’s 2 pomodoros a day for a month.
You can skip some days and call a Mulligan but 20 hours a day is very doable.
But you need to practice efficiently and effectively to achieve this result as playing around for 20 hours won’t get you anywhere close to good.
How To Learn Any Skill In 20 hours
This principle is from the book: The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything … Fast – By Josh Kaufman.
These five easy steps would help you learn any skill fast!
1) Deconstruct the skill
Decide exactly what you want to be able to do when you are done
Any skill is a combination of a lot of different sub – skills.
To be good at any skill – think of the Sub skills that make up that skill.
Break these down into smaller pieces.
breaking this down would allow you decide “the most important sub skills” to learn first.
This would make learning much easier and faster.
Here is an example – learn a new skill like building a business online into its sub skills of
1. Choose your interest ( niche )
2. Build a website
3. Create content that helps people
4. Attract visitors – traffic = Revenue
This is how most people run a profitable online business.
This skill looks easier and less daunting once you break it down into many sub skills.
2) Learn Enough To Self Correct.
You have to do your research on the skill.
Get two or three authority resources on the skill – Courses, books, YouTube videos and channels, training platform.
Skim through and search for ideas that overlap.
These ideas are the central principal of any skill.
An example is getting books on copywriting if you want to learn how to be a better writer for b2b business.
You would find out that some information would overlap and those overlaps are the building blocks that you need to master.
This is to help you learn better by knowing when you are making a mistake.
however you should not use this as an excuse to procrastinate – it happens to me especially.
Get the information you need and proceed.
when you come across a problem, you can also go back to the resource materials.
According to the monitor hypothesis by Dr. Stephens krashen – ” Learning is only valuable if it allows you to plan, edit and correct yourself while practicing”
Having coaches and Mentors would also help you.
Dare to learn
3) Remove practice barriers
To practice effectively, you need to remove all practice barriers around you.
This means removing all distractions – TVs, radios, internet, phones and concentrating solely on the task at hand.
Using a pomodoro which is a time management skill of doing focused 25 minutes work and taking a 10 minute break.
You would get more results if you can focus on the task solely and get your brain working on it for focused periods without distractions.
Your phones and other devices can wait 25 minutes twice a day if it is really important to you.
4) practice at least 20 hours a day
Practice for at least 20 hours using the struggle and sleep technique.
The struggle and sleep technique according to Scientists says that –
Skills we learn just before bed are better process while we are asleep.
because sleep consolidates and encodes what we learn during the day.
so practicing early in the morning and just before bed would help you grasp concepts much faster.
Practice for at least 20 hours.
Research shows that you push through the initial frustration barrier of learning a new skill just past the 14 hour mark!
At 20 hours you would be amazed at how competent you have become.
25 minutes in the morning and 25 minutes before bed.
for a whole month!
You can do it if it is important to you.
Practicing intensely for these 25 minutes without distractions would give you the best results.
The major barrier to skill acquisition is not intellectual, Its emotional.
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