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7 Steps to Mastery...Let's Make That 7 Steps To Get Really Good at Something

Most of us would like to become masters of what we do; whether it be our jobs, specific parts of our jobs, hobbies, etc. But it's been stated many times that it takes 10,000 hours to master something.

Consider the following:

  • 10,000 hours is approximately 14 years of 2 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, concentrated effort.
  • The current world/business environment changes so fast.
  • Often someone who is a generalist, while being really good at a few specific things, promotes faster than someone who does one thing at a mastery level but cannot do anything else.
  • BALANCE!!! Have you ever been around someone who is a one-dimensional master of a single thing? I saw an interview the other day with a former gold medal winning gymnast. The lack of personality, depth and awareness of past and present events was really sad.

Many of us would be very happy being really good at a number of things, both work and non-work related.

So how can we become really good at something?

A Google search came up with a few lists, like:

  • Learn
  • Attempt
  • Identify weak areas
  • Repetition
  • Learn from mistakes
  • Repetition


  • Practice
  • Small Sections
  • Repetition


  • Unconscious Incompetence - don't know what you don't know
  • Conscious Incompetence - know what you don't know
  • Conscious Competence - you know, but it takes concentrated effort to recall or do
  • Unconscious Competence - recall or do automatically without conscious thought

The last one probably looks familiar to many of us; I first saw it in a high school psychology class.

So, I looked at this list and started thinking back to the things I consider (or at one time considered) myself to be really good at:

  • Flying - former U.S. Air Force Pilot
  • Powerlifting - former State Champion, qualified for nationals and World Cup
  • Tennis - top player on my college tennis team
  • Rubik's Cube - slower than in the past, but can still solve every time in less than 60 seconds
  • Forecasting - many years of experience at very high accuracy, utilizing many models, for many different operations
  • Call center operations - I know that's kind of general, but I’ve been told that I'm pretty good at it

Other than trying to brag a bit (and a weak attempt to go back and re-live what Bruce Springsteen refers to as "Glory Days"), why did I make this list? Well, I wanted to compare what I did to get to the point that I consider myself really good at that item and compare those steps with the steps I found by Googling. After looking through all of the steps, I came up with the ones that appeared the most often and others that I just felt needed to be considered.

Drum roll please…The 7 steps that I came up with are:

  1. Perform an honest self-assessment and then get buy-in...from ourselves
  2. Learn everything we can about the topic
  3. Practice what we learn
  4. Identify weaknesses and work on areas of weakness while avoiding frustration and desire to quit
  5. Do and learn from mistakes and make adjustments due to our "uniqueness"
  6. Teach others
  7. Surround ourselves with experts (by networking) or others attempting to learn the same things (serving as a mentor)

Some of these steps, obviously, should take place in order, for example, learn everything we can about the topic, before we teach others. However, other steps, like networking, can be done at any time.

In future blogs, I will break down each of these steps with considerations and recommendations of each.