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10,000 hours to master a skill? I don't have the time for that!




After chewing on the lessons from Malcolm Gladwell's best-seller, most of us felt defeated. Where in our busy lives will we find the time to fit in 10,000 hours in our schedule? To master our relationships, career, hobbies...? Luckily we don't have to master every hobby or skill. Attaining a level of proficiency where that skill can add value to our lives is actually the realm we're after. How long does it take to develop a reasonable level of proficiency, you ask? 1,000 hours? 500 hours?


20 hours.


According to researcher and best-selling author Josh Kauffman, only 20 hours of dedicated and focussed practise can get you to a level of proficiency that will surprise you. He goes on to explain that to be able to make the best of that time there are four key steps -

  1. Deconstruct the skill. Break a complicated skill into the smallest possible tasks, and you'll quickly realise where your most significant shortcomings are. By focussing your practising on these, you will make the most significant improvements in the smallest amount of time.

  2. Learn enough to self-correct. Gather and study three or four different sources on the subject. Not more though - research is often an excuse to procrastinate. All you need is enough knowledge to know you're doing something wrong and self-correct.

  3. Remove barriers to practise. Turn off notifications, choose a time where you won't be distracted. Remove all those hindrances that will stop you from practising.

  4. Practise at least 20 hours. Commit to the 20 hours upfront. The most crucial benefit of this upfront commitment is that it will get you through that frustrating early phase - that initial period where we feel incompetent. Once we get through that first phase, the joy of competence often provides enough momentum to keep going.

Kauffman used this approach to learn to play the Ukulele in 20 hours, which inspired me to learn to play the piano. I've since then far exceeded 20 hours and have come to love my time in front of the piano. Subsequently, I have acquired many other skills, and my life has definitely been more meaningful since adopting his philosophy. By applying his four steps, you can add depth to your life.


Many of these ideas are expanded upon in my upcoming book. If you would like to read more, please subscribe to my newsletter to receive updates on release dates.

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