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“Have you ever noticed that anyone driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”…George Carlin
This is just one telltale example of why this beloved comedian/social critic is hailed as one of the all time favs.
And what’s really funny is, he’s spot on.
I mean think about it.
How many times have you found yourself breezing along a stretch of open road only to come up on the backside of some sluggard doing half the posted speed limit?
Or been flat out flying in the fast lane when some half-crazed lunatic launches by you like you’re sitting still?
So the question is, is there an ideal cruising speed?
One that’s appropriate for all of us?
The answer of course, is no.
Because we all run at our own clip, we’re all on a different patch of blacktop plotting our way up, over, and around our own unique set of twists and turns.
And I think it’s safe to say that this holds true regardless of our desired destination, or, our personal ambitions.
THE SPEED DEMON
Over the course of thirteen videotaped episodes, Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek created something called The Tim Ferriss Experiment, during which time he learned to (among other things) drive a rally car, speak a new language, do jiu-jitsu, play golf, target shoot, surf, gamble, and even perfect the age old art of dating.
His catchphrase for the occasion, 5 days. Zero experience. And the world’s best teachers.
First up, learning to play drums.
The five day goal, sharing the stage with ‘70’s rock band Foreigner.
The world class teacher for this opening round, ace percussionist Stewart Copeland, co-founding member of The Police.
And just as promised, on day five we find Tim sitting on stage alongside Foreigner’s full time drummer as the band performs their top ten hit Hot Blooded.
Three minutes later, mission accomplished.
Now granted, while he does manage to get through the song (kudos Tim) it isn’t what I’d call a stellar performance.
Nevertheless the demonstration is a success.
Tim validates his assertion that given five days one can in fact learn a new skill.
Josh Kaufman, bestselling author of The First 20 Hours…How to Learn Anything Fast, argues, “You can get good enough at anything to enjoy yourself in just twenty hours.”
“Through twenty hours of focused, deliberate practice, you’ll go from knowing absolutely nothing to performing ‘noticeably well.’”
He calls this method, “Rapid Skill Acquisition.”
“The purpose of this book,” he emphasizes, “is to help you acquire new skills in record time.”
THE STEADY HAND
On the opposite side of the learning curve we have Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule, which Kaufman references in his book.
“Based on research conducted by Dr. K. Anders Ericsson of FSU, ‘expert-level’ performance takes, on average, ten thousand hours of deliberate practice to achieve.”
“Ten thousand hours,” Kaufman points out, “equals eight full hours of deliberate practice each and every day for approximately three and a half years―most of us count ourselves lucky if we can set aside a few hours week.”
“But before you give up all hope,” he continues, “consider this.”
“If you’re looking to become the next Tiger Woods you will in all probability need to spend at least ten thousand hours deliberately and systematically practicing all the conceivable aspects of golf.”
“On the other hand, if you just want to be good enough at golf that you’re able to play decently, not embarrass yourself and simply have a good time, that’s another matter entirely.”
So, five days.
Three and a half years.
What’s it gonna be driver?
THE HIGH ROAD
First off, hats off to both Tim and Josh for presenting a convincing case on behalf of learning new skills in minimal time.
They’ve proven beyond a doubt that there truly does exist such a thing as accelerated learning.
Now, what exactly is the key advantage to this amped-up approach?
Well, according to Kaufman it’s the comforting fact that it can spare us the undue agony of wrestling with what he calls, “The Frustration Barrier.”
Call it what you will, we all know that when results fail to come in lickety-split, or when the payoff falls short of our preconceived expectations, we tend to get frustrated and in turn oftentimes wind up giving up altogether.
Contrarily, learning new skills more quickly produces an almost instantaneous sense of confidence, and that (particularly in the beginning) can be hugely beneficial.
In a nutshell, accelerated learning is an on-the-spot rush; a wide-eyed shot of bubbling adrenaline, with each new challenge adding yet another feather in your can-do cap.
One more trusty tool in your been there done that toolbox.
What this type of technique doesn’t provide however, is the sublime level of craftsmanship that comes from skillfully learning to use those tools.
What it cannot impart is the deep down satisfaction that comes from honing your craft and fine tuning those skills.
What you should not expect is the kind of goose-bump riddled gratification that comes from long-lived purposeful dedication.
THE ROAD AHEAD
Deliberately. Systematically. Expeditiously.
How about enthusiastically?
Five days. Twenty hours. Twenty years!
What the hell’s it matter?
In the end it’s not about minutes or hours.
It’s not about the days or years it takes to get something done.
It’s not about getting it done at all.
It’s about what you get out of doing it.
And the honest-to-God truth is the more you do it the more you’ll get out of it.
For what it’s worth the bedrock of your ambitions isn’t built on the shifting sands of an unimpassioned hourglass.
The battle cry of the good fight isn’t the perpetual ticking of some two bit pocket watch.
In other words, the gauging factor here is not time.
What counts is how you spend that time.
Short-lived challenge or lifelong dream, it’s your call.
It’s your race to run.
Follow your compass. Find your groove.
Then press on, unswerving in your amazing journey.
Because the road ahead awaits.
Your time to shine will come.
For now, be patient.
Happy knowing that today you gave it your all.
And that tomorrow you’ll be more than happy to do so again.
And so on, and so on, and so on.
See ya October 1st. Till then, keeep it up