How To Master A Hard Skill And Stay Motivated
You can learn how to boil an egg today but "mastering" the art of negotiation takes years.
If you're impatient, choose the egg. You'll be happier with your progress.
Mastery takes time.
It takes consistent learning, deliberate practice, and instant feedback.
I received my MBA to better "learn" business. It's almost laughable writing that.
I don't regret it, but it takes more than a course and semester to master a skill, like sales and marketing.
It's taken me over a decade to develop these skills. I still have a long way to go.
My learning is never over.
Mastery is never "achieved."
Learning a new skill is a commitment. You'll need to spark the flames of dedication, motivation, and passion.
It's why I've failed miserably at learning Spanish and the guitar.
I would love to learn them, but I'm not passionate enough to pull my focus and dedicate the time.
You don't need to invest 10,000 hours in becoming proficient at a skill, but you'll have to spend the time.
Here's how to begin.
Learn from experts.
If you're not learning from the best then what are you learning?
In today's hyperconnected world, you're able to learn from someone, wherever they are in the world.
Choose the top three to five books on the subject you want to master.
Actively read them.
Highlight passages, dog ear important pages, and make notes on critical points you want to remember.
Once you've read the books, watch their online videos, listen to them teach the material and if they have a course, buy it.
If you want to learn the skill faster, hire them as a coach.
Doing this is how I met my current business adviser. I listened to his podcast. Read his book. And hired him.
He's helped develop me as a leader, manager, and businessman.
The best way to learn any skill is through a time tested coach.
If you focus on everything you get nothing, but if you focus on one thing, you get everything.
Here's how you'll break down the steps to master your skill.
Skill: Become proficient in playing chess
Step 1: Read five books from chess masters.
Step 2: Watch ten videos from the chess masters.
Step 3: Take one chess master course.
Step 4: Hire a chess coach.
Break the skill you want to learn into learning blocks.
You've likely chosen a broad category to learn, like negotiation.
This defines a particular area of expertise — a macro skill.
There are hundreds of areas within negotiation; you can focus your learning efforts. Trying to learn them all is a waste of time.
Not everything is going to give you the results you seek.
Narrow your skill learning down to the few micro-skills that will have the most significant impact.
Twenty percent of the things you learn in negotiation will produce eighty percent of your negation results.
This applies to anything.
Once you've determined these areas, it might take some trial and error, break your skill into training blocks.
Block 1: Core Negotiation Strategy
Block 2: Seeking Out The Motive & Desires Of Others
Block 3: Navigating Concessions
Once you've broken your skill down into learning blocks, focus on one learning block at a time.
Practice your skills.
You can read books and watch videos, but you need consistent practice.
Practice is what embeds the learning into your brain.
It allows you to see what works, what doesn't and make improvements over time.
Set a goal of how much time you'll practice each day. If you're developing your negotiation skills, make it fifteen minutes a day.
Schedule it on the calendar and stick to it.
Get someone to give you feedback
As you practice, you'll want to have someone who can give you honest feedback on what you're practicing.
Here's how it'll look:
They give you feedback on what they heard or saw.
You learn from what you practiced and their feedback.
You get better as time progresses.
What did you like best, and what will you do better next time?
At the end of each practice session, you should answer these questions.
What did you like best about what you did?
What will you do better next time?
Where can you improve?
Be taking time to debrief after your practice, you'll learn from the answers to these questions.
In the next practice session, you'll be better.
As you begin to learn your new skill, there's no better way to embed it in your brain than by teaching others.
Find ways to teach it to others. Write about it. Get others involved in your learning.
Teaching is a powerful learning tool.