How to Master a Skill

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This article is going to give you advice necessary to master any skill. If you are here, it means you have a field that you are passionate about and want to be at the very top of that field, right? If so, you have come to the right place. More often then not, people give up on their dreams because they have not been taught the right techniques and the mindset of experts or champions. Do not think that anyone, and I very much dare to really emphasize the “everyone” part, has achieved success by just being born great. Yes, ofcourse some people are born with some natural advantage to others, but do you think that matters? No. Not a little bit. Media is used to glorifying the “Top of the cream” people as some natural born super talents, when, in reality, they are regular people, just like you and I. The difference lyes in their mindset. I will reveal the “secrets” they know to you, so you would take your destiny in your hands and follow the same steps they did and understand how to become the best in your field. A very good example that very are going to talk about is Cristiano Ronaldo’s life story. Many of us think that he is super talented from birth, but only few know that his talent was achieved following the same things you are going to learn here.

Mastering any skill takes time and effort. Do you know what is myelin? I strongly believe that this is the secret key to to success and you should read this through if you wantto achieve success in your discipline. It has been gaining its popularity during the last years, but still is pretty new discovery that researchers have found and is gaining a lot more interest, since it has been proven that this is, possibly the main, thing that makes us better in different things. The learning juice, if you will. I am going to explain what exactly is myelin in simple words, so everyone can get the idea. If you like, you can read about it on Wikipedia Every action that we perform is a signal to the muscles that is sent from the brain. These signals travel through nervous system tissue. Simply put, signals are transferred the same way as electricity flows through wire, only in our case, nervous system is our wiring. The wires are called axons, through which these signals travel between neurons. To perform any action, these signals have to move from one neuron to another through axons, until it reaches its destination. And this is where the interesting part starts - these “wires” or axons are insulated with fat-like substance called myelin. The purpose of myelin is to increase the speed at which these signals travel through our nervous system. The more myelin, the faster signals are able to travel. You are able to react more quickly, more precisely and with less effort if your axons are insulated with thick cover of myelin. But how do I get more myelin, then? Easy - with practice. That is correct, when you train, you increase the thickness of myelin around your axons. But this is tricky, because myelin basically grows around your nerve wiring only if it is being used very often. Because we are human our body has been adapted to survive. Myelin is the mechanism that aids us at adjusting our skills to different environments.When you pick up and start learning new skill, you usually are bad at it, if you have not done anything similar to that. Why? Because axons that are connecting the neurons that lead to performing the specific action are no myelinated yet. There has been no need to that. The signal still travels through, but it is less effective, because we do not yet have the knowledge to do that specific thing and it gets slowed down traveling along the axons until reaching the end destination. But the more a signal is through a specific neuron route, the more myelin gets wrapped around it, because our body believes this is an important every day action that you must perform. Basically, this is how you are learning. As it turns out, learning is not just exercising your brain to remember things, it is all about building myelin around your axons.So beneath the good old saying “Practice makes the master.” lies undeniable truth that we all know, but now it has been scientifically proven as well

You probably all know who Cristiano Rondalo and Lionel Messi are, right? Are they super talented and more better human beings than us? Depends, how you look at it. But I can answer one thing for sure - they were not born with their talent, contrary to what many people believe. People are saying that Messi is born talent and Ronaldo is grown talent and I am about to explain why, because this ties to our topic very well. I do not believe this statement to be true, I believe that both of them are grown talents. Messi was way more talented as a kid, but I believe the fact that he was born in a family where his father was coach of a local football team, had a huge impact on this as well. He was exposed to the game since he started walking, either watching, or kicking the ball around himself, so he had a lot of time to practice since day 1. But the reason why Ronaldo’s story is more relatable to every person in the world, is because he worked hard, very hard, to get where he is now. He was not considered as massively talented kid at the beginning, but he had passion for the game and he was more determined than others to reach his goals no matter what. And that is how he achieved his greatness. By training again and again and again. He was firing one signal after another in moves and kicks necessary for a football game. His axons probably are covered by a very thick layer of myelin. And when you reach those levels, signals travel so fast and so accurately, that you do not even need to think about what exactly you are doing, all the decisions you make, come naturally to you. And have you ever wondered, why, especially in sports, the greatest names that go into the hall of fame, are usually from poor backgrounds? Lionel Messi, had to travel across half the would because Barcelona could sponsor his growth hormone therapy. Luis Suarez, one of seven kids abandoned by his dad. Diego Maradona, Cristiano Ronaldo himself, many of the Brazilian football players… the list goes on and on. But how did they reach their success when kids that are given the best equipment in the world could not? Did they want it more? Yes. One of the reasons for that was because they wanted it more. They wanted a way out of poverty. But they did not have the most fresh football balls, boots or world class coaches. How did they do it in the end, then? They practiced. A lot more than others and in the correct way.

When you do something over and over, you get better, right? Yes, but only if you do that correctly. There is this thing, called the Deep Practice, which consists of three things:

*Repetition

*Making mistakes

*Fixing them

There are the factors how to master anything. This is the part were many people go wrong. I believe, all couches and teachers should know this, heck, I wish I knew these things growing up. If you are playing piano and learn to play a song very well, what has happened? Your axons have been myelated so well, that you do not need to think about every key you press. It comes naturally, because signals travel through neurons faster than you can acknowledge that happening. But now, how do you get better? Do you play the song over and over? No. You have mastered that specific part, so there is not much more myelin to grow. The real growth of myelin happens when you practice something you are not good at yet and it makes you struggle. That is where the real growth happens. Let us stay on the piano example for a bit longer. This where most of the people fail. When someone is learning to play piano, they know some longer parts pretty well and some parts not so well. What do people do? Ignore the part that makes them struggle and focus more on the fluent parts. But that is not effective. You already know that, your circuits are myelinated. What you should do, is focus on the part you are struggling with. Chunk it into smaller pieces and repeat, repeat, repeat. In comparison, 10 minutes of really focusing and learning the hard part, is more valuable than 60 minutes of repeating something that you know very well how to do. Because you are myelinateing at increased rates and the more your circuits are covered in myelin, the better you will become. So focus on your weak spots, chunk them up and repeat until you know them perfectly. When starting to learn something, like playing a piano, you should always chunk things up in very small pieces and start by just playing few notes over and over. Until you know how to do it with your eyes closed. Also, chunking things up, helps you spot your weak spots better.

Again, with the football (or soccer, if you will) example. Do you know, why do kids from Brazil grow up to become one of the best in their field? Because they are exposed to it since very young age. They have developed a culture, where on each corner of the street there are kids playing the ball in very small spaces. And because of the small space, each of them gets to touch the ball more often and it requires better technique to be able to handle the ball. It is not enough to just go train for a few hours a day playing the game on the field. How often do you get to touch the ball? Not so often as during the game in tight streets of Brazil. Exposure is very important in mastering anything. The more you time you spend actually doing, the better. That is why Simon Clifford, an English kids football team coach, was the one who took this knowledge about where Brazilians developed their technique skills and started training his kids team from Leeds in Futsal (football that is played indoors in much smaller space than the big game) and achieving great success with them in the big game as well.

Now you know the basics of what is myelin and deep practice. This how to master any skill and become just like the people you idolize. The information I shared with you is mostly from Dan Coyles book “The Talent Code”. It is a book that I read very recently and I felt like this information is very much worth sharing around. I did cover some of the main ideas mentioned in the book, but there are so much more and very good examples in real life (Like my shortly mentioned example about Brazilians and football). So if I did not convince you, then definitely get this book on amazon and read it, especially if you want to achieve greatness in football or sports in general. This another great personal development bookI recomment. I mentioned sports so much, because I felt like I could related this new knowledge to be most effective there. Although this is true to mastering any skill, like playing a musical instrument, improving logical thinking or whatever you can think of, where you have to train to get better. I also like that the author of the book has really made a research about this and has talked with experts in this field. So it is not about what he thinks is the best approach, but more about scientific facts, more from biology, actually. What I would recommend is read my other blog post How to improve yourself if you want to know how to achieve great success with little effort by forming great habits. (By the way, myelin is one of the main factors that forms habits for you). I really wish I could have had this knowledge as a kid, when I had a dream to become a football superstar, but listened to others that told me, I did not have the amounts of talent that was required and I would never make it. If you want to know how to teach others in some skill, this is a must read for you, as it will give you new insights in the art of learning. But not only you need to read it, so should the people that you are teaching. I hope I was clear enough and this article was useful for you. By writing this, I am building my myelin as well, as blogging is something new to me and I am nowhere near being an expert, but I am sure I will get there. Just have to stick with wisdom from How to improve yourself and “The Talent Code”. Best of luck to all of us.

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