Skill Development

How This Powerful Approach Made me a High Performing Polymath

Photo by  @federize  on  Unsplash

Photo by @federize on Unsplash

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene, Mastery

Nine months ago, I was a software engineer, specializing in backend and video games. If you ask me today, I don’t have a clear answer for you.

I remember the day everything changed. I was in Cambodia, working from the AngkorHUB co-working space, slowly chipping away at my video game, working 14 hour days, 6–7 days a week.

Needless to say, it was exhausting.

Have you been in a similar situation?

Then one day I woke up at 5:30am as usual, thinking to myself: “How can I learn more — faster?”. I started reading and watching videos on learning new skills and came across a video debunking the myth that learning a skill takes 10,000 hours of practice. Mastering a skill may take that much, but simply learning to be proficient at something can take much less time. As low as 15 hours from my experience.

In the video, the speaker went in front of an audience with a guitar. The short version is that he claimed to have never played guitar until 45 days ago. I was baffled when he started playing. To me, it sounded professional. He was playing existing songs, but also improvising on the spot. He claimed it only took 15 hours of consistent practice over a period of 45 days.

I had to try for myself.

That same day I brainstormed skills I thought I’d never be able to learn. The list was too large, so doing one every 45 days would take me years to learn them all.

What skills do you think you simply cannot learn? Why not?

So here’s the approach I have used for nine months in a row, learning 27 new skills along the way:

 

Learn 3 New Skills Every Month

Granted, going from learning one skill in 45 days to learning three in 30 days is borderline insanity, but it’s not as hard as it seems.

Why 3 Skills

The first step for me was to cut down on the number of hours I was doing. 14 hours of the same type of work on the same day is not healthy. So I did some simple math: “how much time must I do in a day to reach 15 hours in 30 days?”.

The answer is 30 minutes.

Everyone can find 30 minutes in their day. I knew I could easily find 90 minutes in my day, so that’s how I went for three skills instead of one.

From my experience so far, I found that doing too much of the same type of activity during the day drains your brain power, but if you vary your activities and work different areas of your brain, you can stay energized longer. I’m no brain expert, but it’s as if the different sections of our brains had different energy levels.

How to Choose the Skills

Given the information above, and if you do want to become a polymath, you have to choose skills that work different areas of your brain. You don’t have to be an expert to figure this out.

Start with this well-known fact: the left side of the brain is more logical and the right side is more creative. Knowing that, you can choose a creative skill and a logical skill. On the creative side, think about music, art, writing, etc. In the logical side, think about math, science, programming, business planning, etc.

Once you’ve decided on a “branch”, be specific. If you’re thinking about music, are you thinking about an instrument or singing? If it’s an instrument, which one? If it’s the violin, what cords do you want to learn? If you’re thinking about singing, what type of songs? What techniques?

For my first month, I chose these three skills:

  • Logical: Classification using Machine Learning techniques;

  • Creative: Learning line-drawing + coloring using Photoshop; and

  • Language: Learn the past and future tenses of the most common Spanish verbs.

How to Practice Them

Now that you know which skills you want to learn, you have to plan the “what” and the “when”. For each skill, start by asking:

What steps do I have to take to learn that skill? What is the 20% effort required to learn 80% of the results (Pareto Principle)?

For the “when”, start by figuring out how much time you can afford to spend on skill learning, in blocks of 30 minutes. I’d suggest at least two. I do three on average.

The next step is figuring out when you can, on a daily basis, get blocks of 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. For most of us, that’s either early morning or late at night. I personally do it in the morning when I still have all my energy.

Now that you know the “what” and “when”, take your calendar out and put exactly what you need to do for each day. You may have to adjust along the way.

For example: learn how to read music 1/3 on Monday, 2/3 on Tuesday, and 3/3 on Wednesday. Also, write the intended quantifiable results. Wednesday I take this specific test and score 90%.

Every day, give yourself a score on how well you achieved your desired result, on a scale of your choice, with 0–10 recommended. At the end of the week, sum up your performance and ask yourself these questions:

  • What went right?

  • What went wrong?

  • How can I do better next week?

Then re-adjust accordingly. I’m usually pretty satisfied with 50+ out of 70. I never want to go lower than that. And it’s extremely motivating.

 

Conclusion

This approach turned me into a high performing polymath in a very short timeframe. What’s important to know is that the more skills you have, the easier it is to learn new ones, as proven by science. And I’ve certainly witnessed that.

Being a polymath also makes you a more interesting and relatable person. When you meet new people, you have more chance of having something in common with them.

Want to know if you’re high performing? Try this out (from Brendon Burchard).

Try this 3 new skills a month approach. Choose new skills at the end of every month and take a few hours to plan it out, then execute on each of them daily, reflecting on your performance along the way.

In no time, you’ll be a more skilled individual who can take on many more challenges.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, sharing and following! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/how-this-powerful-approach-made-me-a-high-performing-polymath-a2f6e61b455e

How Truly Understanding This Quote Turned Me Into a Successful Serial Entrepreneur

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on  Unsplash

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Top Skill-Learning Lessons Learned from One Year of Experimentation

For the sake of this article, we’ll define the word “Skill” as such: “the ability to do something well”. “Well”, doesn’t necessarily mean professionally.

The moment I read and understood the following quote is the moment I knew I had to turn my life around and become a more skilled individual:

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene, Mastery

Now imagine the scenario where you learn more than 35 skills in a year:

  • How much more “successful” do you think you could be?

  • How many ways can you combine those in creative ways?

A lot of times we can’t see how two or more skills may come together until we have acquired the knowledge.

And then one day you wake up and realize that by using a multitude of skills you’ve acquired over the years, you come up with a brilliant idea that could change your future forever.

Just 7 months ago, I didn’t really know how to write good stories. Writing was just one of the skills I wanted to learn over the course of the month of January.

During that month only, I:

  • got published by The Startup (after 5 days in fact!);

  • became a top writer in 7 categories on Medium.com;

  • learned to build mass and gained 5kg of pure muscles (and lost 2% body fat);

  • started a fitness group that grew from 2 people to 13 in just a few days;

  • became way more proficient at day-to-day Spanish conversations;

  • made a new partner for a side-business I was working on; and

  • built my personal brand website.

The next month, I learned how to do Social Media Marketing (with emphasis on Facebook), how to speak/write basic Tagalog and how to grow muscle mass in the legs for someone with chicken legs.

I also released my video game, launched my Viking store, read more books, attended toastmasters events, and grew my networks.

So how can I learn that many skills so quickly and accomplish more?

Simple. In theory at least:

I learn 3 new skills every month.

Let my story above inspire you to try this approach.

Keep reading to learn how I choose the skills, when and how to practice them, why this approach works so well and some of the criticism I’ve received concerning this approach.

How I Choose My Skills

First off, I choose 3 skills that use completely different sections of the brain. I’m certainly no brain expert, but here are a few categories of skills that I’m almost 100% sure use different parts of the brain:

  • Logic/Science (Programming, Math, Physics, etc.)

  • Creative (Art, Music, Writing, Design, Movies, etc.)

  • Languages

  • Health (Nutrition, Body-building, Sports)

  • Speech (public speaking, speed, tone, etc.)

The first month I tried Logic, Creative and Languages, more specifically: Categorization using Machine Learning, Drawing using Photoshop, and Past and Future tenses in Spanish.

Be Specific and Realistic

As you can see, these are very specific subsets of skills.

Always be realistic.

What if I chose Programming, Drawing and Spanish? This is way too broad! Where do I start? What is it really? How the heck can I learn all that in one month! How do you track progress on that?

Being realistic and specific will help you focus and stay motivated, and ultimately help you stay consistent in your practice.

When And How To Practice Them

Photo by  Brad Neathery  on  Unsplash

Practice each skill 30 minutes per day

Thirty minutes for each skill is achievable. If it’s unreasonable for you, just reduce to 1–2 skills instead.

Sometimes I do 2 skills in a month, sometimes I do 4, but I do 3 on average.

And is 30 minutes each day enough to learn a skill? I say yes.

Remember our definition at the top: “the ability to do something well”.

In 15 hours (30 minutes X 30 days), you can learn A LOT.

Have a schedule

Be extreme in telling your brain that you HAVE TO do it or something bad will happen.

This is made easier if you do it consistently at the same time every day. I practice on weekends also. I don’t want to break the momentum.

Learning new skills requires energy, much more than doing things you know.

For that reason, I do them when I’ve got the highest amount of energy. For me, that’s 30 minutes each skill, starting at 5:00am every morning.

Passive Learning

Most skills can be practiced passively. That is, without you actually “spending” time practicing them.

During your day, you spend a lot of time doing passive things: Commuting to work, basic cooking, doing the dishing, health hygiene, etc. I bet for most people, that’s at least one hour of their day.

Use this time to learn passively. Most skills have good theoretical knowledge required. It’s not hard to find good articles online, podcasts and videos to teach you the theory required to learn a skill. Just put your headphones on and learn while doing those passive activities. Learn the jargon, the techniques, etc.

Of course, don’t spend all your time on theory! I spend at least 75% of my time on practice over the course of a month.

4 Reasons Why This Approach Works

Photo by  russn_fckr  on  Unsplash

Photo by russn_fckr on Unsplash

Learning 3 new skills every month completely changed my life for the better. I’m a much better person than I was a year ago. And trust me, it’s not as hard as you think it is. In fact, most of us do learn 3 new skills every month without knowing it. Being aware of it makes all the difference.

1. Because All Skills Are Useful

I will start by saying there are (almost) no useless skills.

Everything I aim to learn has a purpose. The first skills I chose were: classifying documents using Machine Learning, Drawing using Photoshop and Learning The Past and Future Tenses In Spanish.

In one of the current startups I’m working on right now requires my acquired ML skills.

When working on my game, I can now draw decent enough sketches/drafts for my artists to understand my vision.

I moved to Spain 2 months after learning the past and future tenses. I had no idea I would go to Spain at the time.

I use and improve these skills pretty much every day now. The progress has become organic.

2. Because I Build Stronger Connections

I work in co-working spaces. I work with people from all over the globe with different backgrounds. As such, it’s not always easy to have deep conversations if you have nothing in common.

By learning so many skills, there’s a much higher chance that I’m going to find something that unites me with another person.

I’ve connected with people I would never connect with normally, and these connections ended up being some of my strongest connections.

3. Because I Discover Hidden Talents Or Passions

I didn’t aim to write. I didn’t aim to take photos.

Yet I’m now getting paid to do both.

If I didn’t try them as new skills, I would never have known that 1. I’d be good enough at them, and 2. I’d really grow to like them.

4. Because The More You Know, The Faster You Learn

And for me, that is the best reason: learning constantly, at a faster pace.

There’s (almost) nothing I enjoy more in life than learning. It’s such a great feeling when you reach a level of mastery you never knew you could reach before.

“The person who can learn from everything will beat out the person who judges harshly who and what to learn from.” — James Altucher

2 Critics To This Approach

Photo by  Mark Daynes  on  Unsplash

Photo by Mark Daynes on Unsplash

1. I Don’t Have That Much Time!

Yes, you do.

In Analyze How You Spend Your Time, And You will Realize There Is Plenty Of Free Time, I talk about strategies to help you figure out where you can get more time.

One of the realizations I made for myself a few years ago is that I can’t do anything productive after work. I’m too drained mentally. Because of that, I had decided that I’d wake up earlier to work on side projects. It worked great.

Today, I wake up between 4am and 5am depending on the month and the schedule I make for it. I’m productive from 5am to 7pm.

Sounds difficult, right?

Here are key lessons I learned to make waking up early easier:

  1. Wake up at the end of a REM cycle. Experiment to see what it is for you, because it’s different for everyone. For me, it’s about 90 minutes. So I usually sleep between 10pm and 4am, which is 6 hours, or 4 full cycles.

  2. Take power naps (10–15 minutes rest) during the day. 6 hours is not enough. I take one power nap in the morning and one in the afternoon. Again, this takes practice. It’s hard to pull off initially. More tips in Pro Tips For Power Napping Like A King.

2. You Never Master Anything

This is not entirely true.

On the moment, it’s true that I just become good at the skill, without reaching for mastery.

But what’s the point in mastering something you don’t yet know is going to be useful for you?

The key here is that as the months go by, I practice complementary skills and eventually become great at it. Skills are a series of sub-skills. I learn sub-skills every month that add to a whole.

For example, I learn different aspects of a language over the course of a few months, and eventually I “master” it.

So even though the next month’s skills may be completely unrelated to the previous month, it doesn’t mean it will never be connected to a skill I’ve previously learned.

Eventually, the skills that matter will reach mastery.

 

Conclusion

Hopefully, you’ve learned something and it will inspire you to become more skilled. It had an incredible impact on my life and I hope it will do the same for you too.

36 skills in a year is definitely attainable. Of course, it requires dedication, good planning, and execution.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, sharing and following! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/how-truly-understanding-this-quote-turned-me-into-a-successful-serial-entrepreneur-3b6b7e649e73

4 Reasons Why Skill Development Can Make Your Life Much Better

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Never Stop Learning

As I frequently write about, I learn 3 new skills every month. It’s a “calculated” approach that helps improve different areas of the brain or body. I strongly encourage you to read it first, or bookmark it if you don’t have time to read it now.

Learning 3 new skills every month completely changed my life for the better. I’m a much better person than I was 9months ago. And trust me, it’s not as hard as you think it is. In fact, most of us do learn 3 new skills every month without knowing it. Being aware of it makes all the difference.

However, the 3 skills a month approach is not without criticism. I’ve had the same questions multiple times, so I thought it might be interesting to write about. I narrowed it down to one question, which I hope answers all.

 

Why Are You Learning 3 New Skills Every Month?

1. Because They Are Useful

I will start by saying there are (almost) no useless skills.

Everything I aim to learn has a purpose. The first skills I chose were: classifying documents using Machine Learning, Drawing using Photoshop and Learning The Past and Future Tenses In Spanish.

In one of the current startups I’m working on right now requires my acquired ML skills.

When working on my game, I can now draw decent enough sketches/drafts for my artists to understand my vision.

I moved to Spain 2 months after learning the past and future tenses in Spanish. I had no idea I would go to Spain at the time.

I use and improve these skills pretty much every day now. The progress has become organic.

I picked up storytelling, public speaking, conversational Spanish, bodybuilding for an ectomorph, dropshipping for eCommerce, investing smartly, photography, non-fiction writing, meditation, journaling, and much more.

In total, I learned 27 new skills in 9 months.

 

2. Because I Build Stronger Connections

I work from co-working spaces. I work with people from all over the globe with different backgrounds. As such, it’s not always easy to have deep conversations if you have nothing in common.

By learning so many skills, there’s a much higher chance that I’m going to find something that unites me with another person.

I’ve connected with people I would never connect with normally, and these connections ended up being some of my strongest connections.

 

3. Because I Discover Hidden Talents Or Passions

I didn’t aim to write. I didn’t aim to take photos.

Yet I’m now getting paid to do both.

If I didn’t try them as new skills, I would never have known that 1. I’d be good enough at them, and 2. I’d really grow to like them.

As I mention in another other story, we pigeonhole ourselves into specific things that we are/do. I’m a software engineer. Most of the skills I learn are counter-intuitive to that.

 

4. Because The More You Know The Faster You Learn

For me that is the best reason. Learning constantly, at a faster pace. There’s (almost) nothing I enjoy more in life than learning. It’s such a great feeling when you reach a level of mastery you never knew you could reach before.

Here are a few powerful quotes on learning:

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene, Mastery

“Approach everything with an open mind, with a learning mind. You will never stop learning as long as you keep the mindset that everything works, because everything does work. There’s a time and a place for every single move. If you work on it enough, it will work.” — Conor McGregor

“The person who can learn from everything will beat out the person who judges harshly who and what to learn from.” — James Altucher

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

Conclusion

I’ve been doing for 9months now.

  • I am more skilled;

  • I have stronger connections;

  • I have new passions; and

  • I learn much faster.

You want more skills, stronger connections, discover new talents and learn faster?

I strongly suggest you try the 3 new skills approach.

You’ll see, all aspects of your life will improve. Maybe not the first month, but you’ll build momentum and get there.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, clapping and sharing ! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/4-reasons-why-skill-development-can-make-your-life-much-better-ab8684368935

Skill The F Up!

How To Become More Skilled And Why It Matters

Let’s define the word “Skill” as such: “the ability to do something well, not professionally”.

I’m a video game programmer by trade. That’s what I do for a living. Yet every time someone asks me “who are you?”, “what do you do?”, “where are you from?”, I never know how to answer.

  • What is it that we do, really?

  • What defines who we are?

We pigeonhole ourselves to very specific traits that define us, limiting our ability to reason with our brain about our capacities.

By saying I’m a game programmer, I’m letting my brain think that I can only do logical tasks like programming.

For the longest time, I thought I could not do creative things like drawing, because I’m a logical person. Again pigeonholing myself to being “logical”.

Teaching your brain that you can do more leads to great results.

What if I told you I’m rock climber, a bodybuilder, an artist, a photographer, a translator, an English teacher, a traveler, a public speaker, an AI programmer, a video game developer, a game designer and a movie/trailer maker — in no particular order.

Would you believe me? Most likely not, right?

All the above skills require working completely different parts of the brain. Yet I can do the above to a level where I’m confident enough to call them a skill.

And I’m not saying that to brag. I’m saying that to motivate readers.

 

How It All Started

A few months ago, I was reading and watching videos on how to learn new skills. Like most people, I was sure I didn’t have the time to learn new skills outside of my realm of expertise. After all, I worked 10 hours per day, 6–7 days per week. Those videos inspired me to experiment. Out of those experiments, I’ve created a “framework” for myself and since then I’ve been able to consistently learn 3 new skills per month. I’ll show you some of my tips here.

In short, the key is: Consistency, Usefulness and Momentum… CUM. You’ll remember it!

“Will” comes for free if you’re consistently doing things you consider useful.

 

How to choose your new skills

First off, choose 3 skills that use completely different sections of the brain.

I’m certainly no brain expert, but here are a few categories of skills that I’m almost 100% sure use different parts of the brain:

  • Logic/Science (Programming, Math, Physics, etc.)

  • Creative (Art, Music, Writing, Design, Movies, etc.)

  • Languages

  • Health (Nutrition, Body-building, Sports)

  • Speech (public speaking, speed, tone, etc.)

The first month I tried Logic, Creative and Languages, more specifically: Categorization using Machine Learning, Drawing using Photoshop and Past and Future tenses in Spanish.

Be Specific and Realistic

As you can see, these are very specific subsets of skills. You have to be realistic!

What if I chose Programming, Drawing and Spanish?

This is way too broad!

Where do I start? What is it really? How the heck can I learn all that in one month! How do you track progress on that?

Being realistic and specific will help you focus and stay motivated, and ultimately help you stay consistent in your practice. More on that next!

 

How To Be Consistent

Practice each skill 30 minutes per day

Thirty minutes for each skill is achievable. If it’s unreasonable for you, just reduce to 1–2 skills instead. Sometimes I do 2 skills in a month.

And is 30 minutes each day enough to learn a skill?

I say yes.

Remember our definition at the top: “the ability to do something well”. In 15 hours (30 minutes X 30 days), you can learn A LOT.

Have a schedule

No buts. It’s a life/death deal. Be extreme in telling your brain that you HAVE TO do it or something bad will happen. This is made easier if you do it consistently at the same time every day. I practice on weekends also. I don’t want to break the momentum. More on that later.

Learning new skills requires energy, much more than doing things you know. For that reason, I do them when I’ve got the highest amount of energy. For me, that’s 30 minutes each skill, starting at 6am every morning. It will be different for you.

Passive Learning

Most skills can be practiced passively. That is, without you actually “spending” time practicing them.

During your day, you spend a lot of time doing passive things: Commuting to work, basic cooking, doing the dishing, health hygiene, etc. I bet for most people, that’s at least one hour of their day.

Use this time to learn passively.

Most skills have good theoretical knowledge required. It’s not hard to find good articles online, podcasts and videos to teach you the theory required to learn a skill. Just put your headphones on and learn while doing those passive activities. Learn the jargon, the techniques, etc.

Expert tip: put the playback speed above 1x. It takes getting used to, but it’s worth it in the end!

Of course, don’t spend all your time on theory! I spend at least 75% of my time on practice over the course of a month.

 

How To Build Momentum

The more you learn about a topic, the faster you’ll learn it.

Measuring

You have to track your progress.

Your brain needs a little dopamine rush to keep you going. When you start listing skills you’re interested in learning, give yourself milestones with hard deadlinesBreak down the skill in manageable sub-skills required to reach the status of “acquired”.

The simplest way to track progress is to have simple checkboxes. Once you feel like you’re good enough in the sub-skill, check that box!

Going forward

By the end of the month, you should have plenty of momentum. It’s up to you to decide what to do with it. You can choose to continue learning the skill, find a complementary skill, or do something else entirely.

Continue Learning; or

You can always be better at anything you do. Take advantage of the momentum and accelerate your learning even more. Try to become a “master” at it.

Find a complementary skill; or

Take advantage of the momentum to learn something complementary. Focus on a more specific subset of a particular skill, or a different branch. Learn a new language tense or vocabulary, learn new Photoshop techniques, learn new Machine Learning principles, etc.

Do something else entirely.

Some say that to find success, you must focus on a particular set of skills. I personally challenge this “rule”. I like diversity. I like to be adaptable. I like to relate to other people’s stories. I feel like I’m a better person for it.

Doing something else entirely breaks the momentum for that skill, but the success you had from learning previous skills should carry over and keep you motivated. Your brain will now accept that you can indeed learn things you never knew you could.

This is the first step to becoming a polymath.

 

Conclusion

You can learn anything in life, provided you find Usefulness in it, are Consistent about practicing it and keep the Momentum going.

Learning 3 new skills is not even a challenge with the right mindset.

Remember: Don’t skip. Do. Even when you don’t want to.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, clapping and sharing! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/skill-the-f-up-4b1c31f851fd

You Are, Or Will Become What You Learn

Photo by  @impatrickt  on  Unsplash

Photo by @impatrickt on Unsplash

Quick Tips On Learning More Things Faster

This is part 5 of a series I call: “You Are, Or Will Become What You…”. See at the bottom of this story for links to the previous ones.

If I had to choose a theme or a quick phrase to describe my last 8 months, it would have to be this: “Self-Education”.

In the past 5 months alone, I’ve released one book (with more coming up soon), one video game, one online store, a Saas company, and more.

But that’s only the result of me educating myself to learn a more diverse set of skills.

What’s the best way to apply things you just learned?

Put it in action of course!

Sometimes that means changing ways you do things, sometimes that means creating new things.

I created new things, and improved on things I was already doing.

If we were to break down the different skills I needed to learn to make all of the above possible, I would come up with a list like this:

Things I learned, am learning, or will be learning by doing all my projects.

Things I learned, am learning, or will be learning by doing all my projects.

These are some of the skills that, in the past 8 months, I’ve intentionallypracticed and learned.

As a list like that, it may seem a little broad. But most of these took over 8 hours of planning before even putting them in motion.

“Think things through, then follow through” — Eddie Rickenbacker

I may not have mastered any of these, but I’m at 80% “mastery” on a lot of them.

As I re-read that list for the nth time, I realized that I’ve become what I learned. Reading that list, I see a lot of “me” in there. I can do these things. I could write articles on any of these subjects.

So what I’m proposing you to do is go through that same exercise of listing the skills you recently learned, are learning, or will be learning in the near future.

Do you see that your skills portrait who you are, or will become?

That could be sad news to some of you, or good news to some of you.

The way I see it, it’s all good news.

Let me explain.

If the skills you listed are not pleasing to you, take it as a motivator to change that. My older brother once told me:

“You’ll never do anything in life” — Unnamed brother

Phew, that’s pretty harsh!

He told me that years ago because all he saw was this sad teenager playing video games all day on his couch. Here’s my list of skills back then — with exaggeration:

  • Mastering video games.

Needless to say, I wasn’t the most confident kid. But after hearing that, I had to prove him wrong.

And that’s what this exercise is about.

If you’re sad about your own results, prove yourself wrong!

Learning new skills, it turns out, is not even that hard.

Danny, are you crazy? Learning new skills is freaking hard!

Let me argue differently: mastering a new skill is freaking hard!

Being “sufficiently proficient” at something can be done in about 15 hours of constant practice.

I’ve tested that with my 3 new skills a month approach for over 8 months now. I’ve seen myself and others have similar results.

And here’s why “sufficiently proficient” matters:

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene, Mastery

If you’re competing at master level for anything in life, you have to be a top 1% to become extremely successful. You have to be the best in the world!

Now combine 3–5 skills together in creative ways. How many other people in the world have the same skill set?

I hope you see that the subset of people you’re competing with is much lower, meaning more chances for you to be doing great.

Doesn’t that make you a little more remarkable?

Learning More Things Faster

I have a secret for you:

The best way I found to learn faster is to learn more

Probably not what you wanted to hear right? Yet it’s exactly how top people like Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and more learn faster. Because they already know so much.

Let me give you a very simple example.

Suppose you know a language deriving from latin. Let’s say French. Now compare learning Spanish or Italian, as opposed to English, or Chinese.

Spanish and Italian are much easier to learn coming from French, right?

And any polyglot will tell you, the more languages you know, the easier it is to learn new ones.

Everyone agrees, right?

If so, let me forgo the scientific explanation here, but trust me when I say that the same applies to other types of knowledge.

So here’s my suggestion to you:

  1. Learn one or more “basic” skills this month (practice each for 30 minutes, consistently). Become “sufficiently proficient” in it. Aid yourself from my worksheet here: dannyforest.com.

  2. Learn something “different enough” the next month.

  3. Repeat step 2 for a few months. Maybe for 4–5 months.

  4. Realize how much faster you assimilate concepts due to the diverse knowledge you’ve acquired for the past few months.

On step 4, when I stay much faster, I mean exponentially faster! Do that for 8 months like I have. I often surprise myself with how quickly I sometimes pick up concepts that other people find hard to grasp.

Start with Physics before Math and you’ll struggle as hell. Understand Math really well, then learn Physics. Much easier, right?

Convinced yet?

Trust me, it’s not as hard as you think it is. Planning and executing consistently are key.

Lack motivation?

Get yourself an accountability partner! Someone who will follow you in doing the same process. It doesn’t have to be the same skills.

Conclusion

In this article, I’ve shown you how to figure out what your current/near future skillset is and realize how it represents who you are or will become.

I showed you how you can use that as a motivation to stop procrastinating and start learning.

I also proved to you that skill learning is not that hard, and showed you examples of how to make it easier, and faster.

I hope you learned something!

Now it’s your turn.

Go ahead, start the month right and learn yourself a few new skills!

You can do this!

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/you-are-or-will-become-what-you-learn-8ee83c2e145a

Work Less, Learn More, Earn More

Reading “Good to Great” on a slow boat in Laos

Reading “Good to Great” on a slow boat in Laos

Something I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Self

If there’s one thing I wish I could tell my younger self, it’s this:

Work Less, Learn More, Earn More

When I say learn more, I’m not talking about traditional school education. I went through that, like most people in North America. And I’m not denying its usefulness for general knowledge.

I’m also not talking about university, because I actually dropped out a few years in, mostly for the fact that I wasn’t learning the way I needed to learn.

But what I’m talking about is two things: 1. learning to learn, and 2. learning new skills.

Whenever I talk to people 5–10 years younger than I who’ve learned valuable skills I recently learned, I can’t help but think that I wish someone would have told me to invest in my self-development earlier.

People who have been useful to my self-education for the past year or so are, in the order I’ve been exposed to: Tai LopezNicolas ColeZdravko Cvijeticand Michael Simmons.

Since I had dropped out of university about 9 years ago now, I focused on building my own startups, and growing in small startups. I learned so many incredible lessons working in all these high-stress, thriving environments.

But there’s one thing I failed to do: spend some time on my personal development.

Instead of working 12 hours per day every day, I wish I would have spent 2 of those hours on personal development. Learning to learn, storytelling, public speaking, writing, reading, drawing, playing an instrument, learning a new language, etc. Something. Anything.

Having specialized knowledge and working hard is overrated.

Somehow, even though when I was in the position of hiring people, I knew that I was hiring for “personality”, not “talent” or “mad skills”, I never thought to spend time working on mine.

Michael Simmons says that the future belongs to polymaths and I believe him. And you don’t become a polymath if you stop educating yourself after school, or when in the workforce. You become a polymath by continuously learning new skills, working different parts of your brain.

Back in September 2017, I had started to use 1 hour and 30 minutes of my morning time, right after waking up, to learn 3 new skills. 30 minutes for each skill, every morning, for a month. That’s 15 hours each.

Turns out that was probably the single best decision I could have taken for myself and my career.

Imagine.

I’ve learned about 21 new skills since then. I’ve released a book (other coming soon), a video game, an online store, started two businesses and now there’s no stopping me.

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene, Mastery

Robert Greene and Michael Simmons are not wrong. At least not in my personal experience.

I certainly am not old now, but I could have “saved” 5–10 years of my life if I had known to work less and learn more. I would have earned more, faster if I had learned more, faster.

So whatever you do, never stop learning, ideally a diverse set of skills. You will be happier, earn more, and more importantly, be a better person, for yourself and your loved ones.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/@danny_forest/work-less-learn-more-earn-more-fbdded93b5d

Learn More Skills, For Your Future’s Sake!

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene, Mastery

I personally love that quote! Truly understanding it was the first step in my journey to improve my future.

And I KNOW you can do the same!

Not that my future was necessarily bad, but I knew there had to be more to life than waking up at 8am, doing a 9–5 job, going back home, cooking, eating, playing video games, and sleeping.

Rinse and repeat.

Do you feel that way too?

Isn’t it missing some kind of “higher” purpose?

What does me doing this job bring to the world?

I don’t want to just “be” on earth. I want to “do” on earth. Or I guess maybe Mars too in the near future!

It’s not that my “9–5” job sucked. It was great actually. I was learning constantly and working with a deeply skilled bunch. I like to think that my performance was great and I was doing a good job, but there was something missing deep inside, but I didn’t know what it was.

When Things Started To Change

When I left Toronto to become a nomad 9 months ago, I had started focusing my full attention on my startup. It was great. I was accomplishing so much.

Yet there was still something missing: I was not learning much at all.

“Live life as if this will be your last day; Learn as if you will live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Learn, learnLEARN.

There’s no limit to what you can learn. I didn’t know that to be true until I started researching how to quickly learn new skills.

The only true way that I found to learn faster in my 5 months learning 3 new skills a month is by learning more diverse skills.

The more you learn, the more you learn.

Your brain remembers patterns and stores them in your memory. The more patterns you’ve “stored”, the faster it becomes to make new connections and quickly assimilate new patterns.

Now, I’m not brain expert, but that seems to align with the more scientific things I’ve been reading on the subject for the past year or so.

Isn’t this great news though?

To learn faster, you just gotta learn more!

Learning is a very enjoyable and painful process all at the same time. Your experiments will fail constantly. And it’s when you don’t give up on them that your learning improves. But once you’ve acquired the knowledge, there’s no limit to what you can do with it. Especially if you take into account the quote from above: “learn more skills and combine them in creative ways”.

The Future And Success

By most modern standards, I’m probably quite less successful than I was a year ago:

  • I don’t have a place to call home;

  • I don’t have a salary;

  • None of my startups have really taken off yet.

Yet somehow I feel more successful than I’ve ever been. You know why? Because I’m freaking happy, and I’m doing more impactful things!

And I’m freaking skilled.

I’m doing so many things I never knew I could. If I never tried, I would still be coding my life away, not knowing that I actually have other things I’m capable of doing.

That’s why I reject the idea of focusing on one thing only. Because, seriously, who really knows what their the best at until they even try other things. Many things. A buttload of things! Seriously!

I didn’t know I could draw until I tried back in October of last year. I didn’t know I could figure out how retailing works until November of last year. I didn’t know I could write until I tried back in January.

A Recent Manifestation Of Skill Combination

Now, I don’t want you to think that the whole point of this story is to advertise my latest business, but I just think it’s a great example of a way to combine skills in a creative way.

I opened up the Viking Boutique yesterday after some time thinking about the concept. To be honest, I actually hadn’t figured it out until yesterday.

On the surface, it may look like a regular store (I hope not), but it really isn’t.

I’ve combined my writing skills, my commerce skills and my drawing skills all together to make it happen.

The Viking Boutique is the story of Harald Goldskin, a Viking from the 8th century. Everything he sells has a story behind it. I wrote the stories. I drew the images. And every week, he sells new wares that he found during a recent raid. Every raid has a story. The Mead Hall is where the stories are told. It’s the store’s blog. It’s not all about selling cheap sh*t from China.

The Evolution Of Learning So Many Skills

If you had told me 9 months ago that I would:

I would have told you that you were crazy.

Yet I strongly believe that this all started with making the conscious decision of planning and working hard on learning 3 new skills a month.

Once you’re committed to your self-improvement and you’ve found a framework that works, there’s no stopping you!

Conclusion

“Who you are today is not who you have to be tomorrow.” — Zdravko Cvijetic

Remember that!

A surefire way to make that happen is to commit to constantly and consistently learn new skills.

You will change in ways you never expected. You will do and achieve so much more than you ever thought you could. You will accomplish your goals. You’ll do things that are impactful, for you, your surroundings, and beyond.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing! :) 

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/learn-more-skills-for-your-futures-sake-e816b09472fa