Learning A Skill

Learning A Skill

In the past few weeks I pondered the difference between knowing something intellectually and knowing something instinctively, on intuition, in the gut.

Rading To Know Will Only Get You So Far

It all started over a year ago during a very intensive altMBA course. During a month we've had to deliver 14 projects. Needless to say this period was packed with action. This made me realise I haven't been practicing new things in recent years. I focused on reading a lot of books, manuals and tutorials. But somehow I didn't feel I'm progressing. I felt the knowledge disappears somewhere instead of sinking in. Now I know why.

Learning a Skill

That was because I've neglected practicing new skills. I only focused on understanding stuff intellectually. I haven't realised that until you feel something in your gut, until you get the intuitive feel of how something's working, then you haven't really learned.

A teacher appears when the student is ready.

I found the explanation of this phenomena in a seemingly random place. I'm reading a book about B2B sales right now: SPIN Selling. It's a book laying out a method of handling "big sales" in companies. Towards the end of the book after explaining all the rules the Author switches to the topic of making a practical use of this knowledge. He describes transferring the theoretical knowledge into practice.

Method To Learn Skills

According to his observations from dozens of trainings and from other research, the most effective way of learning any skill is this:

  1. Focus on one thing at a time.
  2. Repeat at least 3 times (this will depend on what you're learing of course).
  3. Concentrate on quantity over quality of repetitions.
  4. Practice in safe (low-stakes) situations.

That's it. Doing something for the first time feels always ackward. The results are poor the first few times. But there's no other way of honing a skill than trying it multiple times. When the stakes are high it gets even worse and more bizarre. That's why you should practice it in safe situations and just do one new thing at a time.