How to Master a New Skill – 4 Lessons Simplified

You need to be motivated

Whether you want to learn how to play the guitar as a hobby or are looking to learn a new skill to take your to career to the next level, motivation is the first step to becoming successful.  

As a young marketing professional, I was motivated to learn more about online marketing, particularly search engine optimization, or SEO as we marketers like to call it. My main motivating factor was knowing what a necessary skill it is to have to remain relevant and competitive in my industry. Find something that motivates you and then be willing to fail, to be frustrated, to be bored and to be angry and most importantly, to not give up.

You need knowledge on how to improve

In order to master any new skill, you need to obtain knowledge. This can be done in a number of ways. Whether it’s going back to school, attending seminars, reading educational books, attending free online webinars and training courses, find a method, or combination of methods, that works for you and stick with it.  

It is also be wise to research people in your industry that have the skills you are looking to obtain and find out how they became experts. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook, read their blogs if they have one, attend their conferences, or schedule an informational interview if you can. They will not only help to inform and educate you, they will also help to keep you motivated.

You need an understanding of how to implement that knowledge

This is the most difficult step in the process. Now that you are motivated, have done your research and have educated yourself, how do you implement what you’ve learned? The answer is practice.

 How many golf balls do you think Tiger Woods hit before making it pro? How many mediocre books do you think James Patterson wrote before becoming a successful author? And how many terrible interviews do you thinks Oprah did before becoming the “queen of talk?” The answer is A LOT! The only way to become really good at something is by practice. And the only way to learn a skill is by doing the skill.

You need to know how to measure your results

What knowledge was applied and what knowledge wasn’t applied? What are your weaknesses and what are your strengths? What was the outcome of your implementation? Most of the time you can’t effectively answer these by yourself. You need a coach or a mentor to provide you with feedback.

The best, most talented actors have acting coaches. The strongest, and fittest athletes have personal trainers. And some of the most successful people in business have business partners and mentors. You can read all the how-to books you want, but then you have to implement the suggestions (which takes a huge amount of discipline) and then you have to be able to see around your own short comings which, believe me, will take a lifetime.

So, there you have it. The 4 methods for mastering a new skill. Motivation, knowledge, implementation, measuring results (add in some sweat and tears) and you’re on your way to becoming an expert! For another great read on this topics, check out the blog from the Harvard Business Review!