I remember being greatly impressed when I read Outliers: The Story of Successby Malcol Gladwell. It was a cool book that talked about the Beatles and Bill Gates and how they managed to take over their world by being in the right place at the right time-and by practicing for 10,000 hours.
Josh Kaufman was also impressed, because he feels that a lot of people have used the 10,000 hour rule as a copout for avoiding learning anything. Josh says that the 10,000 rule works-if you want to master a topic. But what if you don’t want to be Paul McCartney, you just want to be able to play a few songs and have a good time playing the bass? Well, in about 20 hours, you can do that.
Josh Kaufman has found ten rules for fast learning, first off you have to have an interest in the topic you want to learn. This desire to get a handle on a topic puts you on the path to learning the essentials and then putting in the time needed to get those essentials learned. The 20 hours is time needed for practice to become a bit of a dabbler and reach a level of skill you are pretty much happy with.
To prove it can be done using his ten steps, he shows how he learns such things as Yoga, Programming, and playing the Ukulele. The difference between what he does and what just about everyone else does, it that he has a schedule and a time frame in which he likes to work. Whereas I tend to fall in love with a topic and abandon it once I can’t master it over a weekend, Josh has his twenty hours of practice in place so he can put in a couple of hours here and there on a regular basis. He also has a step where he gathers the tools needed for the skill. It’s hard to learn to play the piano, for example, if you don’t have access to a piano.
The bulk of The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast! shows Josh learning this and that using his Ten Steps. He figured out a small Yoga routine pretty quickly, but learning to whip up a web page from scratch was a little more challenging. I gave up on that chapter.
Josh learns his six fairly complex skills in a year, setting aside a bit of time to learn each one without giving up any of his normal life-except for a few hours that he used to use to watch TV or do other unproductive activities. It all comes down to practice. An hour a day for a month.
I liked The First 20 Hours. Josh has a good writing style and he makes you believe that you, too, can learn anything you want, if you just break it down into doable steps and put in the work-and not really all that much work.