How long does it take to learn a skill? 20 hours? 50 hours? 100 hours? It depends what skill level you want to reach, to just learn a skill it will take you 20 hours of practice, to be competent? 100 hours, and to be a world class expert, to truly master a skill, it takes 10,000 hours. John Clegg went over the steps you need to take to become world class experts and how you can get the most out of your practice so you never waste a second.
First lets bust some myths:
– Left Brain vs. Right Brain:
– A study looked at people who had been injured and had part of their brains removed. The study found that those that had parts of their brain removed were no les creative or analytical. And furthermore there was no correlation between which part of their brain was removed and wether they were less analytical or less creative.
– The Silver Bullet
– There is no single solution that works for everyone. Just because a method worked for someone else doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. If something works for you thats great keep doing it, don’t stop doing it because someone tells you what they do works better for them.
– While it’s true that you can multitask, like walking and talking, you can’t do two logical tasks at once. If you think you can try this; Time how long it takes you to write down a column of numbers 1-26, a column of letters A-Z and a column of roman numerals 1-26. Then see how long it takes you to do a row at a time instead of a column at a time.
– Most people aren’t born with talent, they actually just train with people that are better than them. By surrounding yourself with people who are better than you you are forced to learn faster, not only to catch up but to overtake them as well.
– People who are naturally smarter don’t always perform better. There is a large issue facing people with high IQ levels and are naturally smart. That is when they get older suddenly things don’t seem to come naturally for them and that becomes an issue because they’ve never had to put as much effort as other people and now learning something takes too much effort and they give up.
What does an expert look like?
Before we can start learning we need to know what the goal looks like, what does a domain expert look like?
– Experts have domain knowledge. They have a really good understanding of their domain, how things work and why things work the way they do.
– The right mental model. They have a mental model of the the domain they are an expert in works, they understand how little changes affect them. For example chess masters have seen so many chess moves that they are able to predict what is going to happen multiple moves ahead.
– Feedback loops. They have feedback loops that allow them to re-train their mental model when they get something wrong. They are able to critically evaluate their performance and actively improve it.
– They can practice more effectively. They know how they learn best and they know what they need to do to get their updated mental model to stick.
So how do we become an expert?
It’s not about more practice but about better practice, more effective practice. There is a famous saying “Practice makes permanent.” and it’s true! We need to make sure that we are practising exactly what we want to lock in. Can you remember a time when learning was easy? If you can thats a great start, think about what that day was like, what time of day was it? What time were you practising?
Deliberate practice is broken up into 7 steps. Take a big goal, break it down into a small goal, create chunks of tasks, practice, get feedback, evaluate and create future strategies. Lets go through an example:
1. Big Goal – Set a big goal, in this example our big goal will be that we want to be able to play ukulele.
2. Small Goal – I want to be able to play chords and understand the hand movements.
3. Chunk Tasks – Design practice exercises that you’re 95% sure you can complete in between 45-90 minutes. You should set a time frame that works for your ability to focus. – If you can’t complete the small goal in 3 tasks you need to break it down further.
4. Practice – Prepare before you practice, look up videos and install any tools that are required. In this case we need to buy a ukulele. We also need to prepare our environment, if you like having snacks while you practice then get those beforehand so you don’t need to stop in the middle of your practice. – Do it! Get stuck into it and don’t be afraid to take a break and break down a task if you can’t get it.
5. Feedback – The most important thing to do is get feedback. This makes sure that you took in everything correctly and reinforces the mental model that you had been building throughout your practice.
6. Evaluate – Did you achieve what you wanted to? Do you need to push a bit harder or do you need to break the task down? – Go over your feedback and make sure that you take it in and remember it for your next practice session.
7. Plan the next step. – Plot a path to you goal and make sure that you’re sticking to it.
## Some learning tips
– Vary your learning, boredom is your enemy.
– Learning will hurt, push yourself and if needed slow down to get the right pace
– Surround yourself with experts and observe what they do and try to figure out why they do it that way
– Imagine the worst case scenario and flip it, figure out how to avoid it.
– Prepare like a chef, make sure everything is ready first