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4 Keys to Better and Faster Skill Development

There are evidently perks to being the best at something. According to research, the top 10% of performers in roles like sales, produce 80% more results than the average Joe, and 700% more than the bottom 10%.

However, wanting to be the best and actually becoming the best are two completely different things. As Bobby Knight has explained, 

“Everybody has the will to win; few people have the will to prepare to win.”

This article is intended to explore ideas that lead to better and faster skill development. Here we go: 

1. Make a Long Term Investment 

On the surface, the idea that how long you plan on doing something can affect how far and fast you advance in that domain seems a bit far fetched. However, that is actually the case. 

When you have committed to doing something for a long time as if it was meant to be your life’s work, you are far more likely to progress faster than if you were simply pursuing it out of a short term interest. 

As Daniel Coyle explains in his book, The Talent Code,

With the same amount of practice, the long-term-commitment group outperformed the short-term-commitment group by 400 percent. The long-term-commitment group, with a mere twenty minutes of weekly practice, progressed faster than the short-termers who practiced for an hour and a half. When long-term commitment combined with high levels of practice, skills skyrocketed.

2. Get a Mentor  

Billionaire and author Gary Keller has said, “Any time in your life you are hitting up against the ceiling of achievement, you’re missing a person”

Similarly, Michael Fishman has said, “Self-made is an illusion. There are many people who played divine roles in you having the life that you have today.”

Don’t think you can or need to do it alone because you can’t. There have been many people who have shaped the life that you have today, and if you wish to improve, there will need to be many more people who shape you going forward.

3. Practice Like You Fight 

Many people think they need to practice in comfort and ease before they do the real thing. However, in truth, you are actually much better off practicing as close to the real thing as possible.

For example, if you’re giving a presentation at a large event, the best training you’ll get is not reading it alone in your office, but rather practicing it in front of a similarly large audience.  

This is what psychologists would call “context-based learning.” Rather than attempting to learn through reviewing material and other theoretical tasks, you actually put yourself into the thick of things and engage in a real-life task.

This immediately pushes you outside of your comfort zone and forces you to learn very quickly. Not only do you now have your own feedback, but you also have everyone else’s. 

4. Sleep Is Important 

In his book, Nurtureshock, Po Bronson writes about a study that shows a correlation between student grades and average amount of sleep. He explains:

Teens who received A’s averaged about fifteen more minutes of sleep than the B students, who in turn averaged fifteen more minutes than the C’s, and so on. Wahlstrom’s data was an almost perfect replication of results from an earlier study of over 3,000 Rhode Island high schoolers by Brown’s Carskadon. Certainly, these are averages, but the consistency of the two studies stands out. Every fifteen minutes counts.

Of course, there are probably diminishing returns. Although to a point skipping sleep in favor of doing more work is actually hurting your performance instead of adding to it.