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“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

What if you could learn anything in 20 hours, what would you learn? Would you learn how to dance? Would you learn a new language? Would you learn an instrument?

In the TED talk, The First 20 Hours — How To Learn Anything, Josh Kaufman explains how to practice intelligently and how to learn any new skill in 20 hours.

It takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in a field. But it only takes 20 hours to get good at something, if you practice intelligently.

Via The First 20 Hours — How To Learn Anything:


1. Deconstruct the skill

Break it down. If you want to learn a new skill, the first thing you need to do is break it down into small action steps.

Via The First 20 Hours — How To Learn Anything:

2. Learn Enough to Self-Correct

Take action and get started. Start practicing the new skill you want to learn so that you can generate feedback and start correcting yourself. You need to start to recognize what good looks like or what good feels like, so you can change your approach as necessary. This is how you will create your learning loop.

Via The First 20 Hours — How To Learn Anything:

3. Remove Practice Barriers

Get rid of whatever gets in the way of your ability and motivation to practice. Make it easier to practice, by getting rid of distractions.

Via The First 20 Hours — How To Learn Anything:

4. Practice at least 20 hours

Keep making small improvements over 20 hours. Spend about 45 minutes a day for a month, and focus on continuous improvement and learning. Your little improvements will compound over the course of a month.

Via The First 20 Hours — How To Learn Anything:

20 Hours Gets You Over the Frustration Barrier

If you can invest 20 hours to learn your new skill, this will help you get over the initial “frustration barrier.” It’s this “frustration barrier” that holds so many people back from learning new things, exploring new interests, or realizing their potential.


It’s not skill that holds you back. You are up against yourself. The biggest barrier is emotional. If you can get over the hump of feeling incompetent or silly or awkward, you open new doors and you are on your way to a life of learning.


Of course, mastery is a whole other level. But the big idea is don’t let the big learning curve of mastery get in the way of the much smaller learning curve of getting good at something.

Keep learning.

This article originally appeared on Sources of Insight

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