Learn Anything In 20 Hours with Josh Kaufman

I was reminded of this little gem I found on the internet in a conversation today with one of my good friends about the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (see video link below). She had been feeling a little conflicted about the “10 000 hour rule” – the mantra that states you need to devote 10 000 hours in order to really be good at something. After all, the only thing most of my peers have devoted 10 000 hours to in our lifetime thus far is school. Imagine how that would go in an interview…

Interviewer: So tell me about your greatest strength.
Me: Ever since I was three I had been enrolled in school. I’ve invested so much time and energy into this endeavor that I feel I really mastered the skill of passivity in the classroom. I can now successfully memorize isolated facts and information and retain it in my short term memory long enough to regurgitate it on a final exam. So I would definitely say school is my greatest strength. I’m amazing at school.

I can see how this rule can be disheartening for those who feel it might be a little too late to begin a new skill. As much as I loved reading Outliers and learning about how cultural and environmental factors really influence success, I think that readers need to be cautious of extending these ideas too far. Despite the environmental hand you may be dealt, success is also dependent on how you decide to interact with these factors. 

There are some interesting tidbits you can take away from the TED talk on “How to Learn Anything” by Josh Kaufman, which dispels the 10 000 myth (though there is some truth to it, admittedly). Watch on to learn about the learning curve; successful strategies and barriers to skill acquisition; and to see his cool ukulele performance at the end!

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