4 Ways To Master Any Skill

Get over yourself.

You can’t be bothered to finish that book you’ve started and stopped five times in the last year.

You can’t be bothered to take the leap and establish that business you’ve always wanted.

You can’t be bothered to go to the gym or start eating better.

You can’t be bothered.

And that’s the problem.

Getting great at something is never an overnight success.

Instant gratification is a rarity. But that seems to be what everyone wants these days.

If you want to truly master something – you need to buy in for the long haul.

Here are four steps to do that and master any skill you desire:

10,000 Hours


Stefan Aarnio, a successful real estate investor, has a saying, Respect the Grind. He defines it as such: It’s going to take you 10 years and 10,000 hours to become a master at whatever it is you’re trying to do. If you’re an artist, an actor, an athlete, a salesman, a business person, it doesn’t matter. No matter what you’re doing it’s going to take you 10 years and 10,000 hours.

It’s not sexy nor does it pander to your need for instant gratification, but it’s the cold, hard truth.

One study, referenced in Talent is Overrated by Geoffrey Colvin, looked at the work of 76 composers over a number of historical time periods. They found that each composer required a 10 year preparatory period before they produced anything considered noteworthy. The same applied to painters and poets.

So how do you expect to be any good after a couple weeks of half-hearted effort?

You don’t need to be great to start. Which is the point here. But start you must. Do or do not, there is no try (shout out to my boy, Yoda, for that one!)

This can apply to anything, but even if fitness is just a secondary goal of yours, and that’s fine, until you’ve truly put in the effort, stop blaming genetics and circumstances for your lack of success.

Deliberate Practice


Deliberate practice – meaning consistently working on what you’re trying to improve on – separates the winners from the losers every time.

Researchers in the 1990s looked at 257 young people who had enrolled in music. They found that those who exhibited the greatest performance didn’t appear to have any inante, inborn talent compared to their peers, they just practiced more.

Another study found IQ had nothing to do with actual sales results among a fleet of salespeople.

Even in chess, often grandmasters are found to have below-average IQs.

So, practice is important. But there’s a right way and wrong way to practice.

By all means play to your strengths, but recognize your weaknesses (whatever’s holding you back from reaching your goal) and work on those areas. It sucks. Your natural tendency is to focus on the stuff you do well, but if that weakness is a glaring one – get it fixed.

Take NHL superstar, Sidney Crosby, for example. When he first entered the league, his face-off win percentage was terrible. But he’s tirelessly worked at improving that area of his game, and now ranks among the top 10 centres in face-offs every year. A vast improvement in an area of the game usually reserved for lesser known players to specialize in. But that’s what makes him the best. Deliberate practice.

From school to athletic development, even childbirth (right, wifey?) — If it’s a notable achievement, it came with considerable work.

Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to avoid unnecessary hardship… take smart short cuts, like a mentorship.



Only a fool would not seize an opportunity to make their journey go a little smoother. If you had the choice between going at it alone or with an experienced coach by your side, you’d choose the latter, right?

It’s like taking a paddle boat to that island when you could’ve rode shotgun in a speedboat.

Or trying to learn through trial-and-error, duffing your away around the golf course, instead of hiring a swing coach if you have aspirations of getting onto the PGA Tour.

If you truly want to master something, you’d eventually need a mentor or coach to help maximize your potential, eliminate the second-guessing and keep progress moving in the right direction.

You’ve seen the testimonials and before/afters. I can expedite your journey to the body you want. Apply for coaching here

But whatever the pursuit you’re after, finding a mentor is a necessary part of your journey to true mastery.

I’m guilty of the mindset that I’d rather go at it alone myself. But it’s not efficient. Ask questions. Find someone who is where you want to go, take on their tutelage and trust the process. Once you’ve gotten a handle on it, you can question authority and go your own way, but don’t be naive to think you don’t need help initially. You do.



Multi-tasking is considered a skill these days. And it’s ruining us.

You’re distracted by your beeping cell phone all day. You have time sucking meetings, emails to respond to, and meaningless tasks eating up your time.

So, how do you cut through the noise and focus on your big priorities?

First off, set them.

Bryan Krahn eloquently narrows it to a five step checklist:

  • Figure Out What You Want
  • Figure Out What You Need to Do to Get it
  • Figure Out What You Must Avoid Doing
  • Establish Priorities
  • Get to Work

Let’s break that down.

If family is everything to you, make sure works ends promptly at 5 pm and shut it down for the night. No exceptions.

If fitness is on your list of priorities, make sure you’re setting aside half hour or more to work on it each day. Maybe that’s just getting in a walk each night in the early going. But do something every day to work on your priorities, and watch as the incremental improvements add up over time.

There are no “aha” moments or random strokes of genius or magical weight loss pills. It’s in the little details, the daily routine, the early morning workouts, the grind when no one else is watching that leads to “overnight” success.

So start taking steps today. If you wait until tomorrow you’re already a day behind.


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Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fitness coach for men and women like his former self. Heavyset in his 20s, he lost 60 pounds and now helps clients find their spark and lose the weight for life.