Yes. You read that right. “Anything”. And it’s so easy to pull off that you’ll be left wondering why you never tried this before. Actually, the truth is that we’ve been applying this all our lives without even thinking about it. But alas, in an uncontrolled and haphazard manner! Intriguing right? However, before I pull the rabbit out of the hat, do me a favor will you? Think about one activity that you did a lot as a child. It can be anything. Playing football, reading a book, solving math, playing Counter Strike, learning dance,…… you get the point. Oh, there’s one more condition – you should have spent more time on this activity than you did on any other activity. Take your time, think. Now that you have an activity in mind, answer this? – how good are you at it today? Pretty damn good right?! Probably even close to mastery!
So the hack is this – the way to master something, is simply to do it more than anything else (and hence, more than the average person does it). We took an example from our childhood days because when we were kids, we didn’t really have much to do and thus we had the time to try our hand at so many different things, and ultimately end with a favorite (for me it was swimming). This activity would later end up becoming the thing that you’re really really good at! Well of course, your level of proficiency would also depend on how early you started and for how long you continued doing it after you started.
This hypothesis was tested by a prominent Cognitive Psychology professor, John Hayes. He studied thousands of musical pieces produced between the years 1685 and 1900, by a plethora of artists. Next, he made a list of the top 500 popular works that are considered masterpieces today. Upon closely examining the lives and career spans of the 76 artists who were responsible for creating the masterworks, he discovered that most of them were written after the tenth year of the composer’s career. In other words, no matter how “naturally talented” some of the artists were considered to be, ultimately the only factor that led to their work getting recognized as a masterpiece was deliberate efforts and sheer practice.
Ok, why is it important to know all of this? Simply because we live in a highly competitive society; whether it’s academics, sports, or art, no matter how good you are, there is always someone better than you (unless you’re the best, but let’s ignore that possibility for now). For this reason, it so easy to feel disappointed when your friend ends up outclassing you with seemingly half the effort! “Wow, Macy is so talented. Maybe I’m not meant for this”, you think to yourself. However, unbeknownst to you, Macy has cumulatively spent thrice as much time playing badminton as you have. In fact, she started training three years before you and thus has clocked more hours that you have!
It’s as simple as that. The more hours you spend doing something, the better you get at it. And if someone is better than you, or faster than you at something, it is only because he has cumulatively dedicated more number of hours towards doing it than you have (intentionally or unintentionally). Talent is highly overrated. In fact, a person is considered “talented” by society not because he was born with innate skill but because he has spent thousands of hours on it, as a result of which he has found a smarter and more effortless way of doing it. But society doesn’t know that, (just like you didn’t know that Macy has been playing badminton for way longer than you) and thus it conveniently dismisses these people as talented!
On a nostalgic note, remember how much we used to struggle with tying our shoelaces when we were first introduced to that activity? We’re much better at it now aren’t we? Hell, we’ll even do it blindfolded without breaking a sweat! So, what are you waiting for? If you want to be a master, get out there and clock in those hours! Till it’s as easy as tying your shoelaces
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