I look at how to learn something new, without the 10,000 hour commitment.
Anyone for an afternoon of croquet?
Over the weekend The BLVD invited us to the Cambridge Croquet Club for what would be my first game of croquet. I love to try new things, I think I always have. Years ago, as a teen, I remember thinking, “I want to be good at lots of things, but I don’t need to be the BEST at any one thing” I found the idea of concentrating on one objective limiting. Sometimes I still feel this way. There certainly are times where I wish I were better at something, which is when I get impatient that I have not yet put in the time and effort to work on something.
Then I read that in order to master something it takes 10,000 hours of practice. This is what best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’ named as “the magic number of greatness”. That is working on something full time for five years. Who has that time?! Not me! Not anymore! Do you? Not so much, right?
Looking into this number some more, I found that there are mixed theories around this, I think the 10,000 hours is how to reach the very top of a competitive field, to become a real expert.
Instead I started looking into how I can learn something without putting in 10,000 hours. I watched author Josh Kaufman’s Ted Talk, talking about how to learn something in 20 hours. Nice! I have 20 hours to put time into something! 20 hours I can achieve.
HOW TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Thinking about learning, what I took away is this…
1. BREAK IT DOWN
In order to learn something new first you can take on a sort of apprenticeship role- either learning a new skill from another person or do it alone. Essentially you need to analyse what you want to practice- break it down in order to understand it. Later, you need to work out enough so that you can practice alone and make sure you are on the right track.
2. SWITCH OFF FROM DISTRACTIONS
Next, in order to concentrate you have to switch off from distractions, step away from social media, tv, talking to others etc- whatever it is that takes away your focus. Giving yourself the freedom to try, make mistakes, get frustrated, have breakthroughs and keep trying.
3. ACCEPT THAT YOU WILL FAIL BUT FACE THAT FEAR
Even knowing that you wont be good right away- that you will get frustrated, feel a bit dumb, is all part of learning. Facing the fear of feeling stupid is the biggest hurdle. I have learnt (and often need to remind myself) that accepting a situation for how it is is all about flexing your emotional intelligence. Accepting that you are afraid, then working out how to crush that fear is actually allowing yourself to grow and learn. People who are frightened to be themselves end up working for other people who are not afraid of being themselves.
4. HAVE PATIENCE
This is a hard one for me! My friend Alan Thompson is a personal and professional coach and at times I refer to his book “Best: A Practical Guide To Living Your Best Life“. In the chapter about patience he writes, “Patience is a refined sense of confidence, a confidence that what you want is what you’ll get. All great achievements were created over time, not instantaneously. Great achievement is always a result of patience.” So there you go.
Once you are ready, it takes a determined mindset and plenty of practice. Even upon mastering a skill, the everyday practice is what keeps you sharp.
Back to the croquet…
So, how did I go at croquet? Actually, I was nervous to step into the field. Everyone noticed and laughed at my nerves. (Thanks for that guys!) I didn’t know how to play so I was worried I would embarrass myself. (It is worth noting that I knew that no one was watching, I think I was just afraid of being bad at something new and feeling deflated.) Then I got over it, as it looked like a lot of fun. Turns out, I was right, it was. I ended up playing two games, I did well on some hits and for a few I was way off. Somehow, I don’t think I will be putting in 20 hours to master learning croquet, but I love that I tried playing, loved it and that it got me thinking about how to learn.
Have you ever played croquet? How did you do? Fun? What about learning something new, have you gained any new skills lately? Mastered something? Spent the 10,000 hours? I would love to know what you are an absolute master at!! Tell us in the comments below. Or, if you want to learn something new, what is it? Share it so the Inspiring Wit community can hold you accountable and see how you are going with it. This is a safe space for you guys to share and bounce ideas around, so please do so!
If you have any questions for me on what I am learning, ask away! What would you guys like me to learn about and report back?