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Do you know how to learn a new skill? and what is the best way to do it?

 The First 20 Hours is the best book you need to read to get an idea about, how to develop/ learn a new skill. This book is written by Josh Kaufman– the author of the best-selling book The Personal MBA.

However, this book is inspired by the 4-Hour Chef (another book on skill learning and development).

Josh Kaufman has proposed that in order to acquire a new skill you must follow these 4 steps;
  • Deconstruct – a skill into the smallest possible sub-skill which can easily be learned
  • Learn – about each subskill to be able to practice intelligently and self-correct while practicing.
  • Remove – any physical, mental, and emotional barriers/distractions that get in the way of practicing these sub-skills.
  • Practice – the most important subskills for at least 20 hours.

The book recommends that if you want to get good at any skill. You must practice it in a real-life environment/context with all the required resources. just studying or getting information about a skill is not enough. Practicing a skill in context helps you to make this new skill more automatic like learning to drive a Car- which initially requires more focus but with time and practice you drive automatically without being alert.

Here are the Ten principles of rapid skill acquisition that you must follow while learning a new skill.

  • Choose a lovable project
  • Focus your energy on one skill at a time
  • Define your target performance level
  • Deconstruct the skill into subskills
  • Obtain the required tools
  • Eliminate any distraction/ barrier to practice
  • Make dedicated time for practice
  • Create fast feedback loops
  • Practice by the clock in short bursts
  • Emphasize quantity and speed

So, In order to develop a new skill, you must select one skill at a time. channel all your focus and energy to learn or develop that new skill while considering all the above-mentioned principles. And practice each day at least 90 minutes until you have completed 20 hours. Because skill is the result of deliberate, consistent practice, and early-stage practice. The faster and more often you practice, the more rapidly you’ll acquire the skill.

Josh Kaufman describes all these principles with his own learning and how he applies them to acquire new skills. He mentions his acquired skills like Programming, Yoga, Touch Typing, Windsurfing, Go- an old Chinese strategy game and Ukulele

Additional Checklist for learning a new skill in the book.
  • Research the skill and related topics
  • Jump in over your head.
  • Identify mental models and mental hooks
  • Imagine the opposite of what you want
  • Talk to practitioners to set expectations.
  • Eliminate distractions in your environment.
  • Use spaced repetition and reinforcement for memorization.
  • Create scaffolds and checklists.
  • Make and test predictions.
  • Honor your biology.

Scaffolds are structures that ensure you approach the skill the same way every time.

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By: Shoaib Ahmed

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