The first 20 hours — how to learn anything | Josh Kaufman | TEDxCSU

The first 20 hours — how to learn anything | Josh Kaufman | TEDxCSU


Translator: Gustavo Rocha
Reviewer: Marssi Draw Hi everyone. Two year ago, my life changed forever. My wife Kelsey and I welcomed our daughter Lela
into the world. Now, becoming a parent
is an amazing experience. Your whole world changes over night. And all of your priorities
change immediately. So fast that it makes it really difficult
to process sometimes. Now, you also have to learn
a tremendous amount about being a parent like, for example,
how to dress your child. (Laughter) This was new to me. This is an actual outfit,
I thought this was a good idea. And even Lela knows
that it’s not a good idea. (Laughter) So there is so much to learn and
so much craziness all at once. And to add to the craziness,
Kelsey and I both work from home, we’re entrepreneurs,
we run our own businesses. So, Kelsey develops courses
online for yoga teachers. I’m an author. And so, I’m working from home,
Kelsey’s working from home. We have an infant
and we’re trying to make sure that everything gets done
that needs done. And life is really, really busy. And a couple of weeks
into this amazing experience, when the sleep deprivation
really kicked in, like around week eight, I had this thought,
and it was the same thought that parents across the ages,
internationally, everybody has had this thought,
which is: I am never going to have
free time ever again. (Laughter) Somebody said it’s true. It’s not exactly true, but it feels really, really true
in that moment. And this was really
disconcerning to me, because one of the things that I enjoy more than anything else
is learning new things. Getting curious about something
and diving in and fiddling around and
learning through trial and error. And eventually becoming pretty good
at something. And without this free time, I didn’t know how I was ever
going to do that ever again. And so, I’m a big geek, I want to keep learning things,
I want to keep growing. And so what I’ve decided to do was, go to the library,
and go to the bookstore, and look at what research says about how we learn and how we learn quickly. And I read a bunch of books,
I read a bunch of websites. And tried to answer this question, how long does it take
to acquire a new skill? You know what I found? 10,000 hours! Anybody ever heard this? It takes 10,000 hours.
If you want to learn something new, if you want to be good at it, it’s going to take 10,000 hours
to get there. And I read this in book after book,
in website after website. And my mental experience
of reading all of this stuff was like: No!! I don’t have time!
I don’t have 10,000 hours. I am never going to be able
to learn anything new. Ever again.
(Laughter) But that’s not true. So, 10,000 hours, just to give you
a rough order of magnitude, 10,000 hours is a full-time job
for five years. That’s a long time. And we’ve all had the experience
of learning something new, and it didn’t take us anywhere
close to that amount of time, right? So, what’s up? There’s something
kinda funky going on here. What the research says and what we expect,
and have experiences, they don’t match up. And what I found, here’s the wrinkle: The 10,000 hour rule came out of studies
of expert-level performance. There’s a professor
at Florida State University, his name is K. Anders Ericsson. He is the originator
of the 10,00 hour rule. And where that came from is,
he studied professional athletes, world class musicians,
chess grand masters. All of this ultra competitive folks
in ultra-high performing fields. And he tried to figure out
how long does it take to get to the top
of those kinds of fields. And what he found is,
the more deliberate practice, the more time
that those individuals spend practicing the elements
of whatever it is that they do, the more time you spend,
the better you get. And the folks at the tippy top
of their fields put in around 10,000 hours of practice. Now, we were talking about the game
of telephone a little bit earlier. Here’s what happened: an author by the name
of Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book in 2007 called
“Outliers: The Story of Success”, and the central piece of that book
was the 10,000 hour rule. Practice a lot, practice well,
and you will do extremely well, you will reach the top of your field. So, the message, what Dr. Ericsson was actually saying is, it takes 10,000 hours to get
at the top of an ultra competitive field in a very narrow subject,
that’s what that means. But here’s what happened:
ever since Outliers came out, immediately came out,
reached the top of best seller lists, stayed there for three solid months. All of a sudden the 10,000 hour rule
was everywhere. And a society-wide game of telephone
started to be played. So this message, it takes 10,000 hours
to reach the top of an ultra competitive field, became, it takes 10,000 hours
to become an expert at something, which became, it takes 10,000 hours to become
good at something, which became, it takes 10,000 hours
to learn something. But that last statement,
it takes 10,000 hours to learn something, is not true.
It’s not true. So, what the research actually says — I spent a lot of time here
at the CSU library in the cognitive psychology stacks
’cause I’m a geek. And when you actually look
at the studies of skill acquisition, you see over and over
a graph like this. Now, researchers,
whether they’re studying a motor skill, something you do physically
or a mental skill, they like to study things
that they can time. ‘Cause you can quantify that, right? So, they’ll give research participants
a little task, something that requires
physical arrangement, or something that requires
learning a little mental trick, and they’ll time how long a participant
takes to complete the skill. And here’s what this graph says,
when you start — so when researchers gave participants
a task, it took them a really long time, ’cause it was new
and they were horrible. With a little bit of practice,
they get better and better and better. And that early part of practice
is really, really efficient. People get good at things
with just a little bit of practice. Now, what’s interesting to note is that, for skills that we want to learn
for ourselves, we don’t care so much about time,
right? We just care about how good we are,
whatever good happens to mean. So if we relabel performance time
to how good you are, the graph flips, and you get
his famous and widely known, this is the learning curve. And the story of the learning curve
is when you start, you’re grossly incompetent
and you know it, right? (Laughter) With a little bit of practice,
you get really good, really quick. So that early level of improvement
is really fast. And then at a certain point
you reach a plateau, and the subsequent games
become much harder to get, they take more time to get. Now, my question is,
I want that, right? How long does it take
from starting something and being grossly incompetent
and knowing it to being reasonably good? In hopefully, as short a period of time
as possible. So, how long does that take? Here’s what my research says: 20 hours. That’s it.
You can go from knowing nothing about any skill that you can think of. Want to learn a language?
Want to learn how to draw? Want to learn how to juggle
flaming chainsaws? (Laughter) If you put 20 hours of focused
deliberate practice into that thing, you will be astounded. Astounded at how good you are. 20 hours is doable, that’s about 45 minutes a day
for about a month. Even skipping a couple days,
here and there. 20 hours isn’t that hard to accumulate. Now, there’s a method to doing this. Because it’s not like you can just start
fiddling around for about 20 hours and expect these massive improvements. There’s a way to practice intelligently. There’s a way to practice efficiently, that will make sure that you invest
those 20 hours in the most effective way
that you possibly can. And here’s the method,
it applies to anything: The first is to deconstruct the skill. Decide exactly what you want
to be able to do when you’re done, and then look into the skill
and break it down into smaller pieces. Most of the things
that we think of as skills are actually big bundles of skills
that require all sorts of different things. The more you can break apart the skill, the more you’re able to decide, what are the parts of this skill
that would actually help me get to what I want? And then you can practice those first. And if you practice
the most important things first, you’ll be able to improve
your performance in the least amount of time possible. The second is, learn enough
to self correct. So, get three to five resources
about what it is you’re trying to learn. Could be book, could be DVDs,
could be courses, could be anything. But don’t use those as a way
to procrastinate on practice. I know I do this, right? Get like 20 books about the topic,
like, “I’m going to start learning
how to program a computer when I complete these 20 books”. No. That’s procrastination. What you want to do
is learn just enough that you can actually practice and self correct or self edit
as you practice. So the learning becomes
a way of getting better at noticing
when you’re making a mistake and then doing something
a little different. The third is to remove barriers
to practice. Distractions, television, internet. All of these things
that get in the way of you actually sitting down
and doing the work. And the more you’re able to use
just a little bit of willpower to remove the distractions that
are keeping you from practicing, the more likely you are to actually
sit down and practice, right? And the fourth is to practice
for at least 20 hours. Now, most skills have what I call
a frustration barrier. You know, the grossly-incompetent-
and-knowing-it part? That’s really, really frustrating.
We don’t like to feel stupid. And feeling stupid is a barrier to us
actually sitting down and doing the work. So, by pre-committing to practicing
whatever it is that you want to do for at least 20 hours, you will be able to overcome
that initial frustration barrier and stick with the practice long enough
to actually reap the rewards. That’s it! It’s not rocket science. Four very simple steps that
you can use to learn anything. Now, this is easy to talk
about in theory, but it’s more fun to talk about
in practice. So one of the things that I’ve wanted
to learn how to do for a long time is play the ukulele. Has anybody seen
Jake Shimabukuro’s TEDTalk where he plays the ukulele
and makes it sound like — he’s like a ukulele god. It’s amazing. I saw it, I was like,
“That is so cool!” It’s such a neat instrument.
I would really like to learn how to play. And so I decided
that to test this theory I wanted to put 20 hours
into practicing ukulele and see where it got. And so the first thing
about playing the ukulele is, in order to practice,
you have to have one, right? So, I got an ukulele and
— My lovely assistant? (Laughter) Thank you sir.
I think I need the chord here. It’s not just an ukulele,
it’s an electric ukulele. (Laughter) Yeah. So, the first couple hours are just
like the first couple hours of anything. You have to get the tools
that you are using to practice. You have to make sure
they’re available. My ukulele didn’t come
with strings attached. I had to figure out
how to put those on. Like, that’s kind of important, right? And learning how to tune,
learning how to make sure that all of the things
that need to be done in order to start practicing
get done, right? Now, one of the things when I was
ready to actually start practicing was I looked in online databases
and songbooks for how to play songs. And they say, okay, ukuleles, you can
play more than one string at a time, so you can play chords, that’s cool, you are accompanying yourself,
yay you. (Laughter) And when I started looking at songs, I had an ukulele chord book
that had like hundreds of chords. Looking at this and
“Wow, that’s intimidating”. But when you look at the actual songs, you see the same chords
over and over, right? As it turns out, playing the ukulele
is kind of like doing anything, There’s a very small set of things
that are really important and techniques that you’ll use
all the time. And in most songs
you’ll use four, maybe five chords, and that’s it, that’s the song. You don’t have to know hundreds,
as long as you know the four or the five. So, while I was doing my research, I found a wonderful little medley
of pop songs by a band called Axis of Awesome.
(Whistles) — Somebody knows it. — And what Axis of Awesome says
is that you can learn, or you can play pretty much
any pop song of the past five decades, if you know four chords, and those chords are G, D, Em and C. Four chords pump out
every pop song ever, right? So I thought, this is cool! I would like to play
every pop song ever. (Laughter) So, that was the first song
I decided to learn, and I would like to actually
share it with you. Ready? (Applause)
Alright. (Music) (Singing)
Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world, she took the midnight train
going anywhere. I heard that you settled down,
(Laughter) that you found a girl, that you’re married now. Every night in my dreams
(Laughter) I see you, I feel you, that is how I know you go on.
(Laughter) I won’t hesitate no more, no more.
It cannot wait, I’m yours. ‘Cause you were amazing,
we did amazing things. If I could, then I would,
I’d go wherever you will — Can you feel the love tonight.
(Laughter) I can’t live with or without you. When I find myself — When I find myself in times of trouble,
mother Mary comes to me, Sometimes I feel like I don’t have partner.
No woman, no cry. Yeah mama, this surely is a dream. I come from a land down under.
(Laughter) Once a jolly swagman
camped by a billabong. Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy,
(Laughter) but here’s my number, so call me Hey sexy lady, op, op, op, op,
oppan gangnam style. (Laughter) It’s time to say goodbye. Closing time, every new beginning
comes from some other beginning’s end. (Singing and music ends)
(Applause) Thank you, thank you. I love that song.
(Laughter) And I have a secret to share with you. So, by playing that song for you, I just hit my twentieth hour
of practicing the ukulele. (Applause)
Thank you. And so it’s amazing, pretty much
anything that you can think of, what do you want to do. The major barrier to learn
something new is not intellectual, it’s not the process of you learning
a bunch of little tips or tricks or things. The major barrier’s emotional.
We’re scared. Feeling stupid doesn’t feel good, in the beginning of learning
anything new you feel really stupid. So the major barrier’s not intellectual,
it’s emotional. But put 20 hours into anything. It doesn’t matter.
What do you want to learn? Do you want to learn a language?
Want to learn how to cook? Want to learn how to draw? What turns you on?
What lights you up? Go out and do that thing.
It only takes 20 hours. Have fun. (Applause)

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

100 Comments

  1. It said in Talmud: "Who will kill one soul – will destroy the whole World. Who will save at least one soul – will save the whole World." Сказано в Талмуде: «Тот, кто убьет хотя бы одну душу — уничтожит целый мир. А тот, кто спасет хоть бы одну душу — спасет целый мир» (Мишна, Санедрин 4:5).

  2. So basically real life is like The Sims where if you force your sim to do one activity for a whole day you can level up to like the 4th level fast, but as you reach the higher levels it takes longer and longer to reach even higher levels. Who knew lmfao

  3. 1.スキルを分解する
    -自分の目標部分を最初に練習する

    2.自己修正できるほど学ぶ
    -情報源を3〜5個入手する
    -練習しながら自己修正していく

    3.練習の邪魔になるものは取り除く
    -テレビ・インターネットは見ない

    4.少なくとも20時間は練習する

    日本人で見てる人いらっしゃったらどうぞ。

  4. what happening in that corner? one lady mentioning something in white boad..what is that? pls give replay tedx people

  5. Thanks so mutch,l know now what l shoud do!in 20 hours the frist thing l want to learn is English I mean how to speak English well and I want to learn drowing 🌸🌸💝this conversation was so good for me thanks ted……your fan from Egypt 🙂✌♥🌺💕

  6. 1. Deconstruct the task
    2. Learn enough to self-correct
    3. Remove practice barriers
    4. Practice for atleast 20 hours

    I AM READY TO CODE😁💪

  7. とにかくやりたいことやってみたいことを20時間やってみる!よし!テンション上がってきた!!何をしようか?・・・やりたいこと・・・?ん・・・?
    このマインドでただ今20時間経過しました。

  8. CHALLENGE: In 20 hours, learn the aerodynamics necessary to fly a rotary wing aircraft. Then with that skill, fly a Bell 206 JetRanger helicopter in a flight simulator (say X-PLANE). Simply take off from one end of a runway and land on the opposite end (all without crashing, of course). No previous flight experience necessary. Can you do it?

  9. Learning new things depend on your dedication and working capacity which can be perfect by the use of time in target period !

  10. I think that is a good video because, when one see that yourself are thinking, ohhh that is the time, isn't much. I want to try everything and I going to sacrifice my 10000 hours because I want to learn so much with the pass of the days.

  11. I'm Md Asif Alam, graduating, Jharkhand.
    I have written a book when I was in class 9. In which I have discovered various formulas that solves various mysteries of universe. And also proved things like mysterious healing and positive thoughts. I'm 360, have more then 46 certificates in different areas, like Dance, Painting, Sports, Graphics, Modeling, Studies, Public speaking, and so on. But never got any opportunity to prove myself.
    Thus I need your support and power of speech in order to express myself to the world.

  12. 1 phân tích kĩ năng.
    2 học đủ để tự sửa sai.
    3 vượt qua các chướng ngại vật ngăn cản luyện tập.
    4 học tập ít nhất 20 giờ.

  13. People need to overcome the initial uncomfortable phase when learning something new and put in moderate hours. It's surely true.

  14. thank you for this video… it is really helpful for me and I laugh a lot, especially when you play the ukulele

  15. Lol i watched that video while sitting on the couch fideling on my ukulele that i got just 2 weeks ago. I didn't see that plot twist coming.

  16. 20 hours, even if true, is *average*, which is useless. Trust me you'll not be very far along in learning the violin or StarCraft in 20 hours.
    Knitting, on the other hand, you can be reasonably good after 2 hours of concentrated practice. And learn a bunch of stuff after 20.

  17. I have listened to this talk several times and I have been still inspired by Mr Kaufman. Thank you for the most inspiring viewpoint you have given. <3

  18. I think that by hearing, reading, saying what you have learned out loud, then writing what you have learned done and finally repeating these steps at least 5 times will allow for you to learn so much quicker than normal.

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