The vast majority of humanity has a similar viewpoint when it comes to attaining new skills or abilities. What’s that viewpoint? That you are born with a specific potential to be good at certain things, and no matter what you do, you will not be able to master skills beyond your predetermined skillsets. Today I’m here to tell you that that is not true. Not only is that not true, but that mentality is incredibly self-defeating!
You notice the title of this article is not how to master something, but it’s how to master anything. How can you be the kind of person who has confidence in any endeavor that you can go from knowing nothing, or having absolutely no skills in a specific area, to being viewed as skilled in it, or even as a master? That is what I’m going to answer now my young apprentice.
Master the basics
Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the fundamentals.
Learning the basics. This is something that is typically overlooked by people when learning a new skill. Mainly because it can be remarkably tedious, but trust me, it’s essential. Take the example of learning a new language.
Learning and practicing just the sounds of a language for most people is exceptionally boring and non-fulfilling. So most people skip it. If you do this, though, you are setting yourself up for failure. The thing about basics, or fundamentals, is they’re fundamental. They’re fundamental and essential to whatever it is you’re trying to learn. Once you learn the basics, you give yourself a strong foundation to build on for the future. And typically you can learn the absolute basics very easily. You just have to be willing to be patient and put in the time.
Give yourself simple, easy projects you can complete without too much effort
Every single time you complete a small project, you feel a sense of joy and satisfaction. Those feelings will motivate you to keep learning and keep working on more and more projects. Which will hone your skills and abilities in the new endeavor. A word of caution though: If you set a project that is too big at the beginning of learning, you run the risk of burning out. Even if you finish it, that project will take much of your much-needed motivational energy. And that can be detrimental to the continuation of your learning.
When I was learning how to play guitar, after learning two chords, I decided to make a song. How many chords did I have in that song? Two. This song, with lyrics and everything, took me only about an hour to finish, but I felt great about it. Finishing that simple song gave me the motivation to keep going because it was cool. I made a song on the guitar!!
So set little projects for yourself. You can even set projects that are small enough to complete daily.
One excellent side effect of this is that you can see your progress. When you look back at where you came from and see what you have become, this will give you more motivation to continue.
(I hope you’re starting to realize the importance of motivation btw.)
Involve positive people in the learning process
Protect your enthusiasm from the negativity of others.
When you share something you’re learning with someone, and they give a response such as “this is terrible,” or “you suck,” it kills your drive. Not only that, these type of comments are entirely useless. What can you do with comments like these? Does it give you a direction to go for improvement? Does it help you to see areas in which you can improve? No! All it does is discourage you, and you do not need that when you’re learning something new.
Instead, try to involve positive yet honest people in your learning process. If you can include people who are learning as well or have already learned the skill you want to learn, that is even better. Those people will be encouraging but also will help you as you learn.
All of this will continue to motivate you to keep going and succeed. I can’t tell you how many times seeing a positive and encouraging response to my efforts gave me the much need strength to continue. It’s invaluable. And also, learning this helps you to be more positive towards others as they embark on individual endeavors.
Have focused practice sessions
So often I hear people say, “I tried to learn that but I just couldn’t!” Often the issue was the way that they were learning. So what is the best way to learn:
1. As I mentioned before, start with the basics, and keep doing the basics until you’ve mastered them.
2. Stay one step ahead of comfortable. Always be striving to learn a little something new while still practicing what you’ve just learned.
3. Repetition is your best friend, repeat, repeat, repeat. Whatever you’re learning, keep repeating it until you can do it without thinking or until you’ve mastered it.
4. Learn things that you’ll be applying immediately. For example, if you’re learning a new language, learn phrases and words related to subjects you’re likely to talk about and use daily. The other vocabulary can come later.
5. Try to have active practice sessions. By this, I mean try to spend some time doing the activity. Play the sport you’re learning with others, play the instrument with friends, speak to someone in that new language. Doing this will make your practice sessions more enjoyable, which will help you keep your joy, and it will help you build confidence as you see yourself improving.
Learn to love the learning process
I think this is the most important of all the things I’ve mentioned in this article. If you can learn to love the learning process, you’ll keep learning, and at the end of the day, that’s how you master anything. Mastery takes time. Contrary to popular belief, no one becomes a master immediately or in unreasonably short periods.
It’s diligent and consistent effort over extended periods that lead to results. If you’re able to learn to love the learning process, you will see steady and joy-inducing results.
Diligence is the mother of good fortune, and idleness, its opposite, never brought a man to the goal of any of his best wishes.
So these are the simple steps to master anything. By using these steps, I’ve been able to learn to make digital music, play guitar, become a software developer, learn languages, sing, dance, paint, and many other things. It’s much more straightforward than you think. Never believe that you can’t achieve something just because others tell you it’s not possible. It’s a lie. Whenever confronted with a new skill, or ability, or activity that you want to master or at least learn, remember…
1. Master the basics.
2. Work on accomplishing simple projects.
3. Involve positive people in the learning process
4. Have focused practice sessions
5. Learn to love the learning process
If you follow these 5 simple steps consistently, you will see the results that you want!