Focus On The First 20 Hours Not the Other 9,980 Hours


If you want to understand the concept of friction, just read anything about how it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. If you want to destroy someone’s motivation, mention that little tidbit.

A couple of years ago, I came across this Forbes’ interview of Josh Kaufman, who espouses that it takes 20 hours to learn a new skill. For some people, even that’s a lot of time but it sure ain’t 10,000 hours.

Of course, we are talking about two different things here – learning a new skill versus becoming an expert at it. Based on apparent research, both are correct. However, everyone needs to think and start small. 10,000 hours is not small.

Kaufman states that one key is to make a precommitment to practice at least 20 hours before acting at all. For me, I need a real gauge on whether I care to take on those 20 hours.

Therefore, I go after about 1–2 hours of research to give me a sense of whether I want to bother continuing to learn a particular topic. I have no interest in burning even 5 hours let alone 20 to learn something I don’t ultimately care about. I’m willing to hedge and protect myself by spending those 1–2 hours.

All that said, I can tell you through multiple experiences, spending 20–40 hours learning something has put me in numerous positions to earn some decent money.

A couple of years ago, there was a potential client who needed help setting up and using Hubspot marketing software. Granted, I had a compelling reason (cash) to learn something quickly but the point is that I spent a relatively small amount of hours learning the software, enough to do a proficient job at helping a client out. After that, it became a lot about just-in-time learning.

Several years after that, I spent similar time learning about various automated marketing systems, enough to recommend one and again, ultimately set up a couple of clients. And like most scenarios, JIT learning became critical to the process.

If you want to watch a 20-minute video about this concept, you can check out Kaufman’s TEDx Talk embedded at the top.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.