How To Master A New Skill
In this season of my life, I’m challenging myself to become a truly great communicator. Through writing a book, speaking when I get offered the opportunity, and sitting down 1-on-1 for intimate conversations, I share my vision of helping people be more productive and create free time to pour into the things that matter most. I’m pushing myself to improve the clarity of my message. I want to inspire people all over the nation to take action on their dreams. I want to be great in my generation by bolding walking out my purpose and encouraging others to do the same.
Working to master a new skill gives you the fire to jump out of bed in the morning. It’s energizing to be committed to a process of growth. It’s motivating and satisfying to hustle for your vision. Instead of getting caught up on the outcome, you can fixate on getting a tiny bit more excellent every day.
When James and I spent time in Buenos Aires, we had a Sunday tradition of grubbing down on Argentinian steak and Malbec while watching magnificent couples dance tango. With the synchronicity of twists and turns and leg flicks, this is an extremely technical type of dance. These couples train for YEARS to become great! Not quite like my hair flipping, booty shaking, pop-and-lock moves where I jump on the dance floor and see what comes out. Well, I suppose there was a several year stretch I spent locked in the privacy of my teenage bedroom with Britney Spears, MJ and NSYNC music videos on repeat while I danced with reckless abandon in front of my mirror. So I’m not completely untrained. Just self-taught.
A life spent trying to control uncontrollables- such as other people, the weather, traffic, etc.- leads to a frustrating and unfulfilling life. Working to become great at something fills you with peace because all you have to control is you. Your thoughts. Your actions. Your investments. Your commitments. Your yeses and nos. It’s completely up to you.
Are you currently working to become great at something?
If you could be great at anything in the world, what would it be?
Here are 4 steps to master a new skill:
1. Be clear about what you want to become great at and most importantly: WHY.
If you take on the challenge of becoming great at a certain skill, you will eventually lose steam if you do not anchor the reason for wanting to learn said skill to a very meaningful why.
I think it would be awesome to become great at speaking Italian. We plan to always return to Italy and eventually live there for several months every year. Jamesy would think it’s sexy (he’s always had a thing for language), and I could converse with the locals with much more ease. However, at the end of my life, is it REALLY going to impact my legacy and fulfill my purpose if I learn Italian? No. Not really. Therefore, not enough drive on my end to dive into conjugations.
Choose a skill that is going to truly make an impact. Maybe for you that is learning a language, because it is directly tied your dream of doing ministry abroad. Perhaps it is the skill of cooking, because you want to bless people around your table. Maybe it is the skill of leadership, because you want to raise up world-changers. Or it could be the skill of sales, because you want to help people get results by matching a solution with their needs.
What is the most important skill you want to become great at in this season?
2. Assess your current strengths.
Are you brand new at this skill? 10 years deep? There is always room for improvement, and working towards growth in any area always starts by assessing the reality of your situation now.
In this assessment, it would be foolish to not take into consideration raw talent. Although I believe hard work far outweighs natural giftedness, it is true that some people are simply born with innate talent to become greater at certain skills much faster.
For a millennial living a stones throw from Microsoft and Amazon campuses, it is just pitiful how handicapped I often feel by technology. I could set my heart on learning how to code and can almost guarantee you, it would take me a lifetime to become anything but inept at it. Software speak is not my natural gifting. I’m not going waste precious time in my life trying to force a skill I am undeniably not born for.
We’ve all seen the first round of auditions on American Idol. I want to encourage you on your quest to become great, but be sure to give yourself a gut check on the course you are setting out for. NOTE: a feeling of fear or intimidation by a goal is NOT the same as deep down knowing it is not what you are called to.
How do you know what your natural talents are? Let’s start here: What do your friends always say you’re great at? What is something you can talk about for hours? What does your boss or coach compliment you on? What traits are you attracted to in others?
3. Commit to learning & practice.
Zero people have become great without doing ridiculous work.
I have four siblings and all five of us were undoubtedly born with raw musical talent (thanks mom and dad!). We can catch onto rhythm and melodies with ease. We all play at least one instrument, and can effortlessly pick up piano, guitar, bass and drums to a song with about 15 minutes of learning by ear. The Lewis family was the real life Partridge family growing up in Camas, Washington. And we all married musicians, naturally.
With that being said, my oldest brother, Shawn, is the one sibling who truly made music his craft. When you watch him play/write/engineer, you are mesmerized by his talent. His ear is so unbelievably precise, you can clink a knife on a crystal wine glass and he will tell you what note it is. His vocal range is higher than mine and guitar playing is flawless. He actually took his talent and paired it with multiple decades of practice and studying theory. He is an absolute pro because he committed to becoming a student of music, production, and performance.
Becoming great at something is going to take away time and focus from somewhere else. There is always an opportunity cost. You will have to make choices that will either feed your quest for greatness, or take away.
4. Take the first step. And then another. And then another.
You know what you want to become great at. You’ve assessed the reality of where you are today. You’re committed to the process of grinding out the required practice.
Now, what’s your very next step? Do you need to download a book on the subject? Hire a coach? Make an investment? Go to a conference?
What is one single step you can make TODAY at becoming greater in this area you have your heart set on?
Don’t go to bed tonight without taking that one tiny step. That set will lead to the next step. And then the next step….
It’s 8:30am for me on a Thursday morning. I woke up at 6, Sparked myself up, prayed and journaled, and just knocked out this 1,300 word blog post. This was my next step on my quest to inspire through my words. It’s likely nothing grandiose will result immediately today in my dedication to improving this skill. But I’m not focused on the result, how or when it happens. I’m focused on the daily commitment of becoming more excellent.
You’re a Champion!
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