Is there a skill you’ve though could really help out your church but you’ve never got round to learning it?
Maybe you’ve wanted to learn HTML and CSS so you can take responsibility for the church website?
Maybe you’ve wanted to learn how to record and upload the churches sermons so members who can’t attend can listen to them, or maybe you’ve wanted to learn to play guitar to impress Christian girls (yes, that’s the reason I picked up the guitar and I know it’s the reason many other Christians have too, it’s not the reason I play now though!)
What if I told you that in 20 hours you could learn that skill that you’ve wanted to learn? Wouldn’t you be interested in that? You might think that I’m crazy, lying, selling snake oil but let me continue and by the end you might be ready to start learning that new skill that will help you and your church.
The First 20 Hours
Josh Kaufman has written a book on this topic called “the first 20 hours“, the basic idea is that within 20 hour you can pick up the basics of a skill and develop the habits and routines that will keep you using this skill for good. He isn’t saying that you will master the skill (despite the title of the book) and he isn’t saying that you will even be very good. What he is saying is that with 20 (good) hours under your belt you will have crossed over the initial hump, got the core skills you need and be ready to keep on with this skill as long as you want.
But What About the 10,000 Hour Rule?
You may have heard of the 10,000 hours rule, Josh certainly had and it seems to be the thing everyone thinks of when they talk about learning a skill. You need to practice for 10,000 hours…the thing is the research about 10,000 hours is when you become a Master at something, not when you become good or even start learning a skill. This “rule” of 10,000 hours is enough to put many people off even attempting to learn a new skill. Josh suggests that you focus on just 20 (good) hours to get the basics of a skill which you can then work on.
So it’s Not Learning a Skill in 20 Hours Then?
Well actually it is, I can play guitar but I am not a master at the guitar. I have learnt the “skill” of playing guitar but there is still a lot about playing guitar I don’t know (insert biblical metaphor about the kingdom come and not yet here etc). Even a master doesn’t know everything about a skill so we shouldn’t expect ourselves to become experts when we start learning a skill. Instead we just need to get the foundation and Josh has a system for learning the basics of a new skills in 20 hours.
So How Do I Learn a Skill in Just 20 Hours?
Here is the basics of Josh’s system
1. Choose the right skill
The skill needs to be something you want/need to learn. One of the biggest reasons people fail to learn a skill is because they are distracted by another one. Choose the one you most want to learn/most need to learn.
Some people only do research and never actually learn the skill but you need some knowledge and resources for learning a skill. A great tip I picked up, use samples of Amazon kindle books to find out what things you need to learn and the quality of a book.
3. Break it down into smaller parts
If you have looked at different samples of Kindle books you will probably have noticed a few common skills that you need to learn. These common subheadings are your subskills to work on.
4. Set a realistic but tough target
If you aim to be a master then when your 20 hours are up you will have failed and will probably be fed up with how hard this skill is. The trick is to set a realistic but tough goal. Easy enough to do, but tough enough to be a challenge and push you on.
5. Set aside some time
If you don’t make time to practice and learn your skill then you won’t learn it. Josh recommends periods of 30-45 minutes a day, easy enough to fit in but long enough to actually practice and learn.
6. DO IT!
Not much more to say now other than to actually do the skill you want to learn. If you don’t do it, you won’t learn, simple.
My Experiment: Learning Android Application Development
After hearing about this book and gaining more free time after finishing my recent studies I decided to put it to the test! Could I pick up the basics of a new skill (one that I knew nothing about) in just 20 hours. I looked at a series of skills that I had thought about trying to learn and prioritised one, Android App development.
I did some research into it, found some good resources and even a free course to help me learn Android development. After my research I broke the skill down into smaller parts and skills. Then I set a goal (to have made a very bad app by the end of 20 hours) and I created a time table with time set aside to learn and practice this skill. Finally I started learning and practising my skill.
I’m currently about 10 hours through and I have been chronicling this journey on a Tumblr blog (as well as some resources if you too want to learn app development)
It’s not been easy and I haven’t met all my targets, I’ve had technical set backs and been really stumped but I’m still going and I’ve managed to set up the very basic example app that the developer sites has a tutorial for. I’m no expert, heck I’m not even good…yet. But I now understand they layout of an app, what different files mean and some very basic functions. With that I can build and learn how to do more advance functions.
Will this skill be useful for my church? Probably not, it might be useful for a different church though. But next time I can consider what skill my church needs, what problem it has that me learning a new skill could solve and give it a go. If you’re still not convinced then why not check out this presentation that Josh did for the Royal Society of Arts in the UK.
What skill could you learn that would help your church?