How to Master Any Skill Quickly: Deconstruct and Focus
In this day and age, the ability to learn rapidly is a crucial skill that can lead to an extraordinary life. As Anthony Robbins emphasizes, mastering this skill requires breaking down the larger goal into smaller sub-skills that occur simultaneously. But how exactly can one do this? In this article, we’ll explore Tim Ferriss’s DiSSS learning framework and how to use it to deconstruct a skill, figure out why you may quit, and focus on the most impactful sub-skills.
1. Have a Goal
The first step towards learning any skill faster is to set a clear and specific goal. This end-goal helps you stay motivated and accountable when things get tough. For instance, when learning a new language, your goal might be to achieve conversational fluency or the ability to hold a 60-minute conversation with a native speaker. Similarly, when learning guitar, your goal might be to play five of your favorite songs for your partner in 90 days. Having a bigger purpose in mind ensures that you don’t lose motivation and remain focused on the direction you want to take.
2. Break it down to its LEGO Blocks
Once you have a goal in mind, the next step is to break it down into smaller sub-skills. This involves doing research to identify all the components involved in learning your desired skill, no matter how small. Take the example of becoming a powerful keynote speaker. Deconstructing this skill involves identifying sub-skills like body language (hand gestures, eye contact, walking style and speed), presentation slides (design, flow of slides, content), and speaking (volume, speed, content), among others. Laying out all the individual components provides a clear visual representation of what you need to focus on and what to prioritize.
3. Figure Out Why You May Quit
Learning a new skill is hard, and the first few weeks or days can be the most vulnerable. During this period, it’s common to lose motivation and give up. To avoid quitting before you even start, break down all the actions required to acquire the new skill. For example, when learning a language, the required actions could be finding the right teacher, traveling to and from lessons, and doing follow-up homework exercises after the lessons. Identifying these pain points and finding ways to avoid them can help you stay motivated.
4. Focus on the 20%
As Pareto’s Principle highlights, 20% of your efforts will lead to 80% or more of your desired outcome. It’s, therefore, essential to focus on the most impactful sub-skills that will yield the maximum results. For instance, if you want to achieve conversational fluency in a language, focus on learning the 1200-2000 most common words used in that language. Similarly, if you want to play guitar fluently, start by memorizing the four chords that make up most popular songs. By focusing your energy on the most impactful sub-skills, you maximize your progress while avoiding distractions.
5. Focus on One Sub-skill at a Time
It’s tempting to learn multiple sub-skills simultaneously, but this only leads to reduced progress and lower performance. Therefore, it’s best to focus on one sub-skill at a time and master it before moving on to the next. As the saying goes, “jack of all trades, master of none.” By mastering one sub-skill at a time, you develop a strong foundation that allows you to assimilate the next sub-skill more efficiently.
Learning any skill quickly requires deconstructing it into smaller sub-skills, focusing on the most impactful sub-skills, and mastering them one at a time. With a clear goal in mind, a breakdown of the components involved, and a focus on the Pareto Principle, you can achieve your desired skill in a shorter time frame. The next time you decide to learn a new skill, give this framework a try, and optimize your learning process.