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Master Makers

Master Makers

It's often thought that there is a strong correlation between time invested and skill acquired. There are several books, notably Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers which popularises a famous psychology study conducted in 1993 into the '10,00-hour rule', the idea that with ten thousand hours of practice, you will become a master of your craft.

Scientists, however, remain sceptical. Five universities undertook a recent study to find that practice only accounts for one-third of the increase in a participant's skill development, suggesting there is scope for alternative measures to impact personal progression. Here are five ways you are able to boost your skill-cap. 

1. Accept where you're at.

By accepting your skill in its current state, you own it - through owning the process you are able to set your internal perspective of the task and as such maintain a carefree attitude, with the mindset that mistakes are OK. (Note; the perspective should be carefree, but dedicated. The idea is that you should not be ashamed of early mistakes, as they will happen - more on this in the next step). A personal way for me to utilise this frame of mind is to view each challenge as a video game. This creates a fun learning dialogue internally, for me to 'level-up' there are criteria which need to be met. Allowing me to set bite-sized targets to progress through and track progress.

2. Create a feedback loop.

Action creates reaction, but it's the process of reviewing our actions which enables us to refine and navigate through the learning journey. As previously mentioned, mistakes are perfectly fine and should be viewed as a learning process. Failure only materialises when you give up, everything else is a journey. Viewing your work as it is is a fundamental step in this process, be honest with what needed to be changed, and delight in what was actually accomplished.

3. Deliberate practice.

“Learning isn’t a way of reaching one’s potential but rather a way of developing it.”Anders Ericsson, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. What Ericsson really touches on is that mastery isn't a matter of genes or genius, it's dedication, willpower and hard work. Within skill progression, there will always be ceilings to hit. Constantly pushing and stepping into unknown territory can provide horizontal insight into what could work for you to further your skillset and solve the weakness you will inevitably encounter. They’re not really your weakness, they’re just the bits you haven’t practised yet.

4. Find a coach.

Expertise is what allows someone to really see what is going right or wrong in a practice. There is no better way to figure this out in your own practice than to get an expert to coach you. Whether it be meditation, behavioural change, drawing, writing or shooting three-pointers, working with an expert is going to take you there faster and more efficiently. Working with a coach or a teacher allows for an additional, external perspective, providing their mind and insight, catching what you’ve missed and pushed you on when things start to stall.

5. Become a teacher

The idea of learning through teaching isn’t new. When we study something we’re taking in passive knowledge and often times we’re only grasping it in theory.
Maybe I can understand how to plate a dish rather well, but until I know how to describe why the plate aesthetics work, I’m going to have a hard time taking those techniques and transferring them to other dishes. The attempt to communicate it to another person’s learning style and comprehension will get you to see the subject in a whole new light and will sharpen your own skills. This is in alignment with Einstein's thoughts; If you're unable to explain an idea or process to a six-year-old, you don't really understand the idea fully yourself.
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