Many of us strive to become great at something but the majority end up mediocre. Why is that?

How long does it take to become a master of your craft?

Is talent something you’re born with, or something you acquire through learning?

And what do highly-skilled people do differently from the rest of us mortals?

Before all of these questions, the most fundamental one that you need to answer is what is your craft?

You can spend years practicing and learning something just because of peer pressure and then realize that actually it’s not my thing. While my direction is in South I was running on the North.

It’s better to go slow in the right direction rather than run to the wrong one.

Find your craft

How do you know what is your craft?

Some people spend years figuring it out, others whole life…, but majority never discover it or even bother to find it.

There is no simple answer to it. You should find what is calling you, what keeps you enjoying the process, what keeps your internal fire burning.

- Focus on your strengths, interests and your values.

The whole point of developing a certain skill is doing something that will not drain you emotionally, so it has to match with your values and strengths. You can not work on your weaknesses and on things you do not value. It may sound really simple but it is a lot harder then you think. This requires real trial and error from your side.

Your strengths are based on your genes. Your values are something that you develop through experience and refine over time and they guide you like a compass in your decision making.

80% of your actions should be based on your strength and 20% on your weakness, not the other way around.

Perhaps you can easily articulate your mind, speak clearly and captivate people's attention. You enjoy telling stories. How you can build on this strength and leverage it to bring value to others? You might become a great teacher, business trainer or make video channel.

Perhaps you have great analytical skills and can solve complex science problems. This could be your competitive edge to master and bring value in discovering new medicine.

Or you like to combine things like entrepreneurship and design, both keep you inspired in the creative process of developing a product or service.

There are millions of gene predisposed human inclinations that gives each of us unique ability to be different, to leverage this difference and make it valuable for us and others. Find your unique blend.

It is your hand of cards. How are you gonna play it?

Someone said that

the first half of life is discovering the script, and the second half is actually writing it and owning it.

And the earlier you find the better.

When you found your craft

How do you make sure that you can realize 100% of your potential to become a master in this craft?

10 000 hours of practice?

It’s not the number of hours that matter, it’s the quality of the approach and methodology you use.

Often time 5 minutes of focused, intentional practice is much better than 1 hour of automated repetitions.

First of all to practice something 10 000 hours requires true love for the craft otherwise you will quit.

Secondly, it all starts with fundamentals and then building on top different nuances.

Sometimes little, invisible and non-obvious nuances are what distinguish novice from a master. Olly can see, hear or feel it. And the true mastery is effortless. It’s just allowing your body and mind to express yourself for 100%. Some kind of energy from the universe will go through you. Maybe it’s allowing yourself to be receptive to it and letting it go through you without any blocks. But to get to that level you have to put an effort. Sound paradoxical but it’s true.

And the whole life is a paradox.

What kind of effort it could be:

Be intentional

Be focused

Be curious

Learn and experiment

Be receptive

Set clear goals and measure your progress

Find your flow and keep it as long as you can

Immerse yourself in deliberate practice

Get feedback, reiterate

Recharge and start again

Important nuances are not visible from the beginning. Having a great master who can teach and give feedback will be super important.

Deliberate practice is strategic, thoughtful and with clear objectives.

You should be always pushing yourself to the edge. Many people when they reach good enough level at something become complacent. True masters keep seeking discomfort and pushing their skills to the next level.

So don’t practice mindlessly. Be intensely engaged. It’s a never standstill, it is constant motion.

The enemy of improvement is neither failure nor success. The enemy of improvement is boredom, fatigue, and lack of concentration. The enemy of improvement is a lack of commitment to the process because the process is everything.

Any result is just is a bypass product of the process. But the process should be oriented towards the goal. The goal gives direction to the process. If there is no goal it becomes easy to abandon the process. Keep your goal in mind and focus on the process.

Practical tips as a takeaway

  1. Find your craft
  2. Set big goals and break it down to small measurable milestones
  3. Define your tactical plan — actions that most likely will help you get there
  4. Analyze what works and what doesn’t. Double down on what works.
  5. Focus and be intentional
  6. Aim to be at least 1% better every time you practice
  7. Seek discomfort and go beyond the current level
  8. Look for someone who is better than you, learn from them
  9. Stay away from complacency
  10. Enjoy the process, it is an infinite game of mastering yourself and your craft
  11. Aim for effortless mastery

… have fun!