Forget the idea it takes 10 years to become an expert or to master a craft. While that might be true to go from 95% to 99% mastery, in many areas you can achieve 95% mastery in 3 months or less, and even world class in 6-12 months. By applying 80/20 principles to focus on the elements of various skills that produce the overwhelming majority of the results, you can shortcut your time to mastery.
Example after example shows us that we are becoming better and reaching new heights faster and faster:
4 Minute Mile
For years, experts said our bodies weren’t capable of running a 4 minute mile. In the 1940’s the record was set at 4:01. It took over 9 years for someone to beat this time, as they faced the mental struggle of doing what they perceived was impossible. Then in 1954, Roger Bannister beat the 4 minute mark for the first time in recorded human history. While this was an amazing accomplishment, what followed is where the real story starts. Soon after Bannister did the “impossible” several others were able to run a 4 minute mile too. Today, nearly 500 Americans have run a sub 4 minute mile. One it was known to be possible, it was so much easier for other runners to accomplish this feat.
For decades, rock climbers have travelled to Yosemite National Park to climb the mountains. From first ascents to free solo speed climbs, records have been continually beaten over the years. It took some of the first climbers 2 years to reach the top, then 1 week was the records. More recently the time has shrunk to 1 day down to 2 hours. These climbers are continually pushing the mark for the next person to try and beat.
Ben & Sam have proven that you can quickly become an expert even when starting from scratch. In 2014 one of them set out to become an expert ping pong player. By spending a little time each day he went from an amateur to professional level player capable of beating 99% of his opponents. They found that by spending around 365 hours they could become experts in ping pong, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, marathon running, etc.
Here are a few notes I’ve taken from Tim Ferriss on accelerated learning and becoming an expert quickly.
-Question the obvious
-Establish a baseline and figure out where you are at right now
-why you might fail b4 you start
-what are the reasons other people failed*
-learn from the expert anomalies (meta-learning)
*Then avoid these things for the first 5 days/attempts
-80/20 principle – what 20% actions gives you 80% results
-top 1% patterns, what they do, don’t do (more important)
-if possible get feedback. This is key.
-figure out your non-negotiables (what you won’t do)
-what if I did things in the opposite order
-what if I ignored what people suggested
-no stakes practice… don’t practice under pressure to deliver
-build incentives into what you are trying to do
-you need motivation
Overall principle: Simplify