By Marcus Leach
Best-selling author Josh Kaufman was the latest speaker at the Like Minds Business Breakfast series today (Tuesday), looking at not just learning and skill acquisition, but how to simplify and accelerate these processes.
Kaufman, previously known for his first book, The Personal MBA, has recently released his second book, The First Twenty Hours, which provides a simple approach to help you learn anything. His latest book shows you how to deconstruct complex skills, make the most of your time, and clear away obstacles in your path.
"Learning is something that is fundamental to human beings, we are learning all of the time," Kaufman said. "It's helpful to have an approach or framework that can help you go from knowing nothing, to being reasonably good at a skill in as short a time as possible."
Many of us have heard of the 10,000 hour rule, where it takes 10,000 hours to master something, to become an expert at it. Kaufman says this is demonstratively wrong. He believes that the 10,000 hour rule implies learning is difficult and takes a long time, which he says isn't the case.
"I wanted to go from knowing nothing to being reasonably good at something in a short space of time, yet there was no research on this, it was all focused on the 10,000 hour rule. So I took it upon myself to do this research, which is where the book came from," he said.
"My method has five parts, which makes it easier to break everything down into manageable sections. Firstly, decide what you want to learn. You need to have a result pictured in your head. The more specific you can be in this image the better you will be at learning. It is what I call defining a target performance level.
"Next up is deconstruction, which is simply breaking the skill down into smaller and smaller pieces that can be practised in isolation. Take golf for example, we see this as a single skill. However, it is actually a bundle of sub-skills that create this overall skill. So when you break this down into smaller skills it automatically comes easier to focus on each one and spend time on specific sub-skills.
"Then you need to research the skill. Talk to experts, buy books on the skill, watch DVDs. By doing this you can identify which of the sub-skills are most important. This way you can focus on the ones that are most important to you. However, do not let research become procrastination because you are too focused on it. It is great to do research but don't let this stop you actually practicing.
"After this you need to remove all barriers to practice. Remove any distraction that would prevent you from learning the skills. Turn off the TV, shutdown your internet, shut the door. They may seem like small distractions, but they are very real behavioural barriers that prevent us from sitting down and focusing. Don't force yourself, use a little will power and change the way you approach the learning of the skill.
"Finally, and maybe this is the most important part of the process, make a pre-commitment. Say to yourself 'I am going to put at least twenty hours of deliberate practice into this skill, or I am not going to start at all'. There is proven psychology behind this pre-commitment.
"It is an accurate early gauge of how important this skill is in the first place. If you are not prepared to invest the time to practice it is probably a good indication that it isn't important enough at this stage on your life to do it. The early hours of practicing are the most frustrating, no matter who you are, so making the pre-commitment helps overcome the early frustrations, as there will be some."
Kaufman did go on to say that the twenty hour mark is a line in the sand, and that you will not become an expert at a skill in twenty hopurs, but rather make considerable improvements.
"The twenty hour mark is a good guide, as it is a small enough period not to make it daunting, but it is also a long enough period to ensure that with focused practice you will become considerably better at a skill. If you then want to become even better you put in another twenty hours, and so on," he added.
To find out more about the Like Mind Breakfast Series click here.
To find out more about Josh's latest book click here.
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