Remember when Mahatma Gandhi said, “Life as if you were to die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever”? The definition of a “normal life” has now taken a different turn, online is the new normal, and with the internet and Mr. Google at our disposal, I’m sure you’ve pondered upon a skill or two, that you wish to learn. Maybe it’s a particular form of dance – Jazz, Salsa, Zumba; or a foreign language – German, French, or even an instrument – Ukele? But then, if you were to ask Mr. Google how much time it takes to genuinely learn a skill properly, he’d reply with 10,000 hours. Yes, that’s right, all best-seller books and blogs suggest that 10,000 hours is all it takes, and the length of that figure is long enough to scare all your determination out the window. However, Josh Kauffman, has a different response for you!
A cognitive psychology geek and a neurosurgeon, Kauffman began digging into the 10,000-hour idea, to understand where the number originates from and what it meant, and he concluded by saying that these are the number of hours it takes for an individual to master the skill instead of acquiring it!
In this TED talk, Kauffman explains how practising a skill intelligently and acquiring a new skill can all be done in 20 hours. Mastery is not anyone’s ultimate goal while picking up their first guitar, but being good at it is. One doesn’t need to reach the top at every skill he/she learns, but at the same, one shouldn’t drop the skill 1-2 hours into the chase. There’s this “frustration barrier” that always accompanies a new skill, and honestly, it’s not your fault. It is human nature that causes you to drop the pursuit when you seem to reach nowhere in the initial few hours. And it gets even harder when you have a five-digit figure in your mind, 10,000 hours goal to accomplish, that you’d ultimately give up. But when you think of merely 20 hours to contribute towards a skill, 20 hours that guarantees you some progress in your skill acquiring journey, the task becomes easier, which is why this rule helps you overcome the “frustration barrier.” There’s not a skill out there that’s difficult to acquire, to learn. You’re up against yourself. It’s your battle, and yours only. You may feel silly or incompetent at first, but this pursuit of learning will sooner or later open new doors in your life.