Author Josh Kaufman is making the rounds with his TEDxCSU talk The First 20 Hours – How to Learn Anything.
Kaufman points out that most of us aren’t trying to become experts at a skill (where the so-called “10,000 hours” number comes from). What really prevents us from becoming skilled is the difficulty getting past what Kaufman calls the initial “frustration barrier” — when we’re really aware how bad we actually are at the skill. At this point, we’ll often use any distraction (TV, email, etc) to keep ourselves from practicing and getting over this hump, and thus don’t get any better.
There are four basic steps to Kaufman’s “first 20 hours” approach:
- deconstruct the skill
- learn enough to self-correct
- remove practice barriers
- practice at least 20 hours
Committing to practicing 20 hours is meant to get most folks past the steep part of the learning curve where the “frustration barrier” is found. It’s pretty much the 80-20 rule … you get 80% of the benefit from 20% of the work (and 20% of the benefit from the remaining 80%, a la the 10,000 hours):
Interestingly, Kaufman’s approach is very similar to Tim Ferriss’ in The 4-Hour Chef. And this is what intrigues me about my recent comments about wanting to improve my cooking skills. A few commenters said something pretty similar: just practice!
Point taken ;).
BTW, Kaufman’s book — The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast! — is available June 13th.