The Art of Micro-Mastery

We’ve all wanted to learn something new, a new skill. Perhaps it’s learning Spanish or chess.

Learning the basics of new stuff is pretty straightforward. Mastering it is a different kettle of fish and usually evades us. This is mostly due to the time and commitment required to master a subject as complex as language, or requires a cerebral fitness and focus that is beyond our reach.

Our failure to excel at a skill is quite demotivating and often leads to disillusionment. In many cases the skills learned are then discarded – the skill is lost and the time spent learning is wasted. Ring any bells?

But, what if the skills you were trying to master were smaller and simpler. Or maybe larger subjects broken into tiny chunks. Then you’d have the possibility of truly mastering skills with relative ease.

You could become the grandmaster of the 10 most significant chess openings (that alone could easily make you unbeatable in your social circle). Or perhaps become an expert at ordering food and drink in Spanish (one of my favourite, and most useful, micro skills).

With this approach you’re not trying to become the “finished article”, you’re aiming to shine brightly in a few niche but useful subjects. They don’t have to be financially useful, often the best micro skills are trivial in nature. For example, learning to juggle takes most folks an hour or so – but once learned will give kids, your families kids, and every other child at heart, a lifetime of glee and enjoyment. And makes you a hero, that “(cool) Uncle who juggles tangerines” at Xmas!

With so many micro-skills to choose from it’s unlikely you’ll meet another micro-master with the same skill. This makes you unique and memorable, and you are more likely to improve on the skill by re-using time and time again.

Learning is good; it staves off senility, continually improves oneself, and creates a personal framework of learning. Our ability to adapt in life relies on challenging our norms and moving out of our comfort zone. Without these differing and new stimuli, our cognitive abilities will start to fade and we run the risk of losing our relevance and even our place in society.

Happy learning. I’m off to learn how to poach an egg just like a master chef!