I remembering reading what Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book, Outliers, regarding 10,000 hours of practice is needed to master anything. While hard work over a given amount of time helps, it’s not the main reason why a person masters something. Simply repeating an action over and over won’t lead to expert status anymore than a fly will get through a glass window by flying into it 10,000 times.
A study released last year looked at the difference between chess experts, ones who reached mastery level and those that only reach intermediate level. Both groups did deliberate practice over 10,000 hours, yet some rose higher than others. While the study didn’t discover other aspects that could have shown the differences, it did conclude it takes more than practice.
While not scientific, in my opinion those that reach mastery also had a certain amount of grit and made adjustments. When I first studied the martial arts I realized that what worked for one person didn’t work for me. I learned to make adjustments. Eventually I was able to master what I studied over a given amount of time.
There are other things that need to be considered as well. When first studied the martial arts I was really young. My mother put a stick in my hand at 18 months old and showed me how to do Kendo. From there I went onto to study karate while living in Okinawa. Had I started as an adult, I believe that the connections in my brain would not have had an easy time learning as I did as a child. So, the earlier one starts, the better. If you already have a foundation in a certain area, then it becomes easier to learn further in similar areas.
I was also passionate about learning the martial arts. Passion and enthusiasm are factors that keep one going, even when things get tough. Will it overcome everything as one moves towards mastery? Probably not. Staying focused in another key.
We live in a world of distractions. If you’re constantly bouncing from this to that, then mastery will become more difficult. Focused concentration seems to be steadily declining in today’s world. Those that want to master any skill will need to be more focused. Success comes to those that are focused on their goals and it’s the same for mastery.
Being focused will allow you to see opportunities that will help to improve your skills.
While Gladwell and others talk about hard work over 10,000 hours is needed to master anything, we now know it’s not necessarily true. It takes right actions added to the mix. Just because you’re doing something, doesn’t mean what you’re doing it right.
There are many ways you can accelerate your goals towards mastering a skill…
- Make sure you’re passionate about what you’re doing. If you feel it’s part of your life’s purpose, then it becomes easier to master.
- Have fun like a child. You’ll learn much faster when you find joy in what you’re doing rather than making it a chore.
- Find the right master. Whenever I wanted to master something or simply get better at what I was doing, I would search for the right person to help me get there. The better the person, the better I will eventually reach mastery.
- Learn at the beginner’s level. If you bring in stuff from other areas to the area you want to start learning, then mastering it will be more daunting. Drop the junk first.
- Don’t be impatient. Instead, keep focused over time. Time matters and mastery is never developed overnight.
- Focus on using your strengths. Don’t let the opinions of others derail you. You’ll do better by staying true to you.
- Practice, practice, practice…. The right way!
Mastery over time will happen as long as you stick with it. Strive each day to give your best effort. That is important. I wish you success as you move towards mastery.
Bob Choat, “Transformational Master Black Belt”
America’s #1 Mind-Body Transformation Expert and author of Mind Your Own Fitness
David Z. Hambrick, et. al. “Deliberate practice: Is that all it takes to become an expert?” Intelligence 45 (2013) 34-45 DOI: 10.1016/j.intell.2013.04.001