“Contrary to prior belief, the key to rapid skill acquisition isn’t complicated memorization techniques or mental hacks.” – Josh Kaufman
In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Memorization is for fools, and any ‘mental hack’ you come across should be thoroughly validated. You can, of course, follow the continuous stream of ‘life hacks’ that will inevitably teach you something.
Recommended for You: The Most Depressing One-Word Story
Personally, I’d rather learn the old fashioned way.
If you look at any successful startup or entrepreneur, I guarantee you they did not ‘hack’ anything, but quite the contrary. To hack is to use unconventional tactics to create higher-than-average results. To demonstrate how to truly become skilled and proficient in an expertise, however, I will use the formula below.
Immersion + Context + Teaching + Consistency = Expertise
So why is this important to you right now? According to a survey cited by the Harvard Business Review, employees need better skills to do their jobs well, especially skills related to technology.
Immersion: Dive In and Don’t Look Back
Put yourself in a situation where there is no turning back. Apply for related jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, etc. Your failed interview will give you knowledge of what employers value most, and the company will know that you are dedicated (they’ll want you when you’re an expert.) Reach out to everyone that you can on LinkedIn, Quora, and ask how they would recommend learning their field. You will walk away with valuable resources and trusted advisors.
Context: Refuse to Learn without Doing
Buy the most popular books on the subject. Take meticulous notes and fill pages of notebooks with what you learn. Write down examples, and then create your own examples. Be able to create stories that demonstrate your learning and capability. Break down every complex topic into graphs and drawings and make note of the most important buzzwords – star them, and make a list. Go over those and use those when reaching out to professionals and when applying for the positions.
Teaching: Share your Learning as Much as Possible
Create a blog, answer related questions on Quora, give a 30-minute Lunch and Learn presentation. The simple act of relaying the same information you’ve taken in will cement the knowledge in your mind while growing your credibility at the same time. Take your knowledge to SquareSpace or WordPress and get the domain “BecomingAnExpert [skill] ByStartingFromScratch”
Consistency: Practice the 2-Day Rule
Never assume that you will have (or make) sufficient time to learn the skill quickly. Assume that time is limited, and don’t plan your learning in bulk (e.g. don’t plan to spend 16 hours studying on the weekends.) If you want to follow Tim Ferriss, follow his 2-day rule: Never go two days without practicing the skill. In most cases, you should be practicing every day, and in small increments. Who do you think will be better, the one who practices piano for 15 minutes each day, or the one who practices once a month for eight hours?
As is true with all of these, consistency is key. Tone down the depth to remain consistent and iterative. If you don’t, you’ll overwhelm yourself and regret starting the entire process.
About the author: Passionate marketing entrepreneur and content strategist; known for ability to speak directly to specific audiences through creative campaigns, copy direction and brand identity. High EQ and ability to foster meaningful business relationships industry-wide. Connect with me on Twitter: @ZachonLinkedIn
We hope you enjoyed this post! For the latest in personal branding, job and career-related updates, please consider following on Facebook at CareerToolboxUSA or join us on LinkedIn.