Learn Anything in 20 Hours with This Four Step Method
With just 20 hours of focused, deliberate practice, you can go from knowing absolutely nothing to performing noticeably well. That’s the message from Josh Kaufman, author of The First 20 Hours. In the video above, he reveals the four steps to learning any new skill, fast.
It’s a long, 20-minute TEDx Talk, but entertaining and enlightening too.
The four steps in Kaufman’s method are:
Deconstruct the skill: Break down the parts and find the most important things to practice first. If you were learning to play a musical instrument, for example, knowing just a few chords gives you access to tons of songs. If you want to learn a new language, learn the most common 2,000 words and you’ll have 80% text coverage.
Self-correct: Use reference materials to learn enough that you know when you make a mistake so you can correct yourself.
Remove barriers to learning: Identify and remove anything that distracts you from focusing on the skill you want to learn.
Practice at least 20 hours.
20 hours amounts to just 40 minutes a day for a month, so what are you waiting for?
I think that both Kaufman and Gladwell are correct.
You can learn how to be comfortable with a subject in about 20 hours. I work with different businesses all the time and it takes me about 2 to 5 days to be comfortable with what they do, how they do it and for me to slide in and work within their company.
However, it takes a lot longer to master something. I think that’s the point that Kaufman misses. Gladwell’s book doesn’t hinge around the idea that it takes 10,000 hours to learn something, he says that it takes about 10,000 hours to master something.
What’s the difference? The difference is someone who can play the piano and Mozart. The difference is someone who can play basketball competitively and Michael Jordan.
Outliers also focuses in on the idea that we are all a product of our surrounds and our time. If Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were born in 1905 or 1995, there’s no way they’d be as successful in the computer world as they are today due to the fact that they were born in the 1950’s. Why is that? It just so happens that right when Jobs and Gates were entering an age where they are developed enough to learn computer programming and also old enough to turn that skill into a business, computer programming was beginning to take over. They just happened to be lucky enough to be born during a time when they could master it right as it became an important trade at which point, there they were, ready to lead the industry.
While I can easily adapt and even fluidly function in any company with just a few days training, it would take me much longer to master that business or industry to the point that I can become one who can become a leader.
I think the difference comes down to this; one knows how to work with something while the other knows how something works. To me, you haven’t mastered something until you understand it from a fundamental angle.