Today, we’re going to talk about a question I get asked all the time:
How do I become great at this one thing?
And you know what? I’ve broken it down into three easy repeatable steps that will help you become an expert in any field.
Let’s dive right in.
Step 1: Master the Fundamentals
First things first, you need to figure out the 20% that drives 80% of the results. This is based on the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. It applies to nearly everything, from economic output to customer purchases, taxes, and even corruption.
To become great at something, you must identify the 20% of actions that will yield 80% of the results.
Take writing, for example. Editing is the 20% that drives the 80% of results. Ernest Hemingway famously said, “The first draft of everything is shit.” It’s through revisions and rewrites that you get a sparkling, clean, beautiful piece of writing.
Similarly, you’ll see the 80/20 rule crop up in many fields, like music, chess, and more. So, focus on figuring out where the 80/20 is in the pursuit you’re trying to become an expert in.
What the Hell Are You Doing with Your Life?
Step 2: Set Up a Feedback System
You can’t become an expert in anything unless you receive feedback that will help you get better.
Feedback can come in many forms, such as criticism from a teacher or coach, or even opinions from friends and family. The key is to have a consistent system of feedback and evaluation on your performance. This will help you iterate and improve.
Many people make two mistakes with feedback: they either don’t receive it (due to fear of criticism) or they receive it but refuse to listen to it (due to ego). A good coach can help with this by pointing out when you’re protecting your ego or ignoring proper feedback.
Remember, be realistic and honest about the criticism you receive.
Step 3: Iterate for 5,000 to 10,000 Hours
Now for the harsh truth: there are no shortcuts. You have to put the time in and iterate for 5,000 to 10,000 hours. Embrace failure and learn from it. The sooner you get those failures out of the way, the sooner you’ll start experiencing success.
Don’t fall for the myth of overnight success stories. The Beatles, for instance, grinded by playing for hours in dank German bars before they became famous. The same goes for Facebook’s co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. He didn’t become an overnight billionaire—he worked all night, every night, for seven years.
There is no shortcut. If you want to become great at something—anything—you gotta put in the work. And there’s your harsh truth of the day.