As a culture, we are obsessed with shortcuts. I’ve read all the headlines:
- Become a Millionaire in Two Weeks!
- Get a Summer Body with This Secret Formula!
- Earn Passive Income While You Sleep!
We’ve all learned to spot a scam or become skeptical when something seems too good to be true. Most of the time, shortcuts don’t exist. We need to put in the time and energy to achieve what we’ve set out to achieve.
I say this because what I’m about to share with you is not a shortcut. I don’t believe in shortcuts. I do, however, believe in efficiencies, which is why I’m writing this for you.
A shortcut is magical (like a unicorn), an efficiency is precise. There isn’t mystery behind these efficiencies which may take away some of the allure, but I promise you they work.
Do you want to learn more in 6 minutes than in 6 months? Here’s how:
A book called The Talent Code reveals an in-depth study on why some people become more talented than others. A key component of the formula is “Deep Practice.”
We’ve all heard that 10,000 hours working on a craft makes us proficient.
The issue is that this statement is not true. The only time this becomes true is if those 10,000 hours are spent in “Deep Practice” – pushed to the limit of our capabilities.
If I draw stick figures for 10,000 hours, I won’t be any closer to being an artist. It is not the drawing that matters, it is the fact that I’m working on improving my drawing with each piece. It is the idea that I am working to get better with everything I put on paper.
Learning to practice deeply will ensure you learn extremely quickly. How do you ensure your practice is “Deep Practice?” I’m glad you asked.
Below is my three-step formula for deep practice that will allow you to learn quicker in any discipline.
- Remove ALL distractions
We do not grow when we are only giving a part of our brain to a subject matter. Put your phone away (completely away; no exceptions). If you’re doing something that just involves sitting and learning (like a language), don’t listen to music or have the TV on in the background. If you’re doing something more active (like learning a sport), don’t pause workouts for conversations with other people in the gym or on the field. Focus all your attention on improving your craft. Some people say, “Well, I learn better with the TV on in the background.”
No, you don’t. You’ve conditioned yourself to think this way. It might be difficult for you to turn the tv off and focus solely on your subject matter, but like I said, these aren’t shortcuts. You will learn quicker when your subject matter has your full attention.
- Be Intentional
We truly improve when we want to learn something SPECIFIC. If you’re learning piano, choose a specific scale or song, and focus your attention on learning it; do not simply sit down and play leisurely if your intention is to improve.
If you’re a basketball player, choose a move and perfect it; do not simply shoot around or play in pick-up games.
When we are unfocused, we don’t improve. We could be in the weight room every day, but if we spend that time talking with friends, we aren’t any closer to our goals. Our specific actions matter (which is why seven minute abs became such a phenomenon…a program that made people actually work hard for 7 minutes, instead of giving 10 percent effort for two hours in a gym).
When we’re specific about what we’re learning, we are much more likely to quickly become proficient.
- Don’t Allow Yourself to Fail
The title of this section is misleading. What I mean by this is: every time you make a mistake, stop and do it again.
If you are learning to play guitar and you have chosen the specific song you want to learn, do not let yourself move forward playing it wrong. Train your brain and your body to do things the right way. You are not improving if you make a mistake and continue playing the rest of the song. Stop, go back, and do it again until you’ve perfected that part of the song.
You only improve when you stop and do it right. Continuing with the song would only train you to believe that mediocre is acceptable. When you actually want to learn and grow, mediocre is not an option.
When you remove distractions, act intentionally, and train yourself to get every little piece exactly right, you will learn incredibly quickly.
This is how we must practice if we truly want to learn more in 6 minutes than 6 months. Train yourself to focus. Train yourself to master specifics. Train yourself to not just go through the motions.
It may still take you 10,000 hours to become a master, but your progress will be noticeable…unlike your friends who are still looking for the secret formula for that ever-elusive summer body.
As always, let me know how it goes for you.