Pareto  - Lean LearningSo how can  you use Pareto in your Life?

Alot of people ask me how flexible can Lean be and how far can it go. So here is an example of using Lean to Learn a new skill…

Learn a New Skill

Ok you’ve read about Pareto, the theory and how it works so how can we use this in our every day life?

Lets have a look at using Pareto to learn a new skill!

First of all you need to decide what that skill is, and remember I am not asking you to become an expert in this skill. I want to show you how you can learn something to a good level in a short time so you can then take it to another level. Enough so you don’t get frustrated and give up prematurely.

Malcolm Gladwell talks about his 10,000 hour rule to become an expert in your chosen discipline, whether that is Chess, Martial Arts, Golf etc. That is 10,000 quality hours for your brain to develop Patterns that don’t require you to consciously think about what you are doing, you do it on instinct. And if you think you are not an expert in something, I’m here to tell you that you are in many areas….

  • Languages
  • Driving
  • Walking
  • Body Language

Things that are so automatic that they just happen.

Well I am here to tell you, that to become very good (maybe just shy of an expert) you don’t need 10,000 hours. And if you don’t believe me go to Tim Ferriss’s blog and look at what he has achieved in times far far less than that. He is a life hacker at it’s extreme and never bows down to any challenge…

  1. Learning Chinese in 3 months
  2. Chinese Kung Fu National Champion
  3. Tango World  Record Holder

Tim Ferriss Tango World Record

This list can go on and in fact at the time of this post, he is currently doing a TV show where he is giving himself only 1 week to achieve great results in a new skill. He is no superhuman, he’s not an amazing person however he has learnt how to do amazing things. He says it himself, he’s just an ordinary person and there is nothing to stop anyone from doing what he does. And to see what he has achieved, I suggest you take a good look at his blog.

And how does he do it? by understand the Law of the Vital Few.

So how can YOU apply this law to learn a new skill

Once you know what you want to learn there is essentially 4 Steps

1.       Deconstruct your new skill

Decide what you want to learn out of it and how far do you want to go. This understanding will determine the amount of effort required on your side to achieve your results.

Once you have done that, break it down into smaller doable pieces of work. Forget about looking at the challenge as one big monster that just seems insurmountable. This needs to be pockets of effort that have 1 defining goal.

Then decide, what are the Vital Few things that will get you to where you want to go with this. And before you say, how do I know what these few things are, it’ actually quite intuitive. Look at any sport, any discipline, you will see patterns. Lets take boxing as an example.

Bob and WeaveWith boxing you learn basic combinations and you practice them hard until they are fluid. This could be

Jab – Jab – Slip – Cross – Step back

Slip – Jab – Step back

Bob – Jab – Cross – Weave – Jab – Cross – Bob Joe Fraiser

So look for common patterns in what it is you want to learn and guess what, practise them so you can form a mental muscle memory. And you will know this feeling from previous things you have done. Remember when you first drove a car and everything seemed so difficult and you thought you couldn’t do it? you kept cutting out, then you would cut out again. So what’s the sensible thing to do? Practise NOT Cutting out before you get onto the road so you don’t feel nervous on the road with a ton of cars behind you. Now you do this with your eyes clothes.

And on a mental level, this contributes greatly to your confidence levels so guess what happens then, you want to learn something else quickly. It can actually become addictive. While sometimes boring, when you see your results you will become so motivated to continue and learn the next Pattern. Then when you learn the new Pattern how can you combine it with the previous pattern, which in turn gives you a completely new Pattern.

And while I gave you an example for a sport (of which I’ve done this and happen to love) the same rules apply to learning a musical instrument.

Learning these Vital Few Patterns are the key to getting the quickest and most effective improvements in the shortest time

 2.       Learn enough to self correct (pilot & tweak in lean)

In lean we always talk about starting small, never try and go too far or change too much too quickly. Why? As you start to change things, other things come to light that could make you change direction, therefore lots of time could be wasted on the wrong things. This is called ‘Pilot & Tweak’

Here we could relate this to reading 20 books and when you are finished then start learning. That’s procrastination at it’s best. As you learn you need to apply IMMEDIATELY to:

  1. Retain the information more effectively
  2. Get deeper understanding of what you are learning

Study enough so you can get started and learn to self correct so the  cycle is

Study – Apply – Tweak – Improve

Remember the Key is to get it started not get it right! Procrastination is the enemy here and there is no room for it.

 3.       Remove practise barriers / distractions

The Key to Rapid Improvement is INTENSE QUALITY PRACTISE and with that, you must cut yourself from all barriers / distractions. This includes both external & internal (emotional) factors. Learn to focus and avoid them and with that you will achieve what you set out to do. Give yourself what I like to call Stretch Zone Targets. These are targets that push you hard, however not too much that they are too overwhelming and you burn out. It’s very easy to fall into this trap, work extremely hard and then lose enthusiasm for it and give up. Sustainability is key!

To help you, I suggest you write down all the internal and external factors in a column beside it write down your strategies to avoid them which will then allow you to focus intently on your practice – some quick examples below:

  1. Feeling stupid not being able to do something is a barrier
  2. One of the biggest barriers is not intelligence it’s emotional!!

4.       Practise for 20 hours

Yes, 20 Hours as quickly as possible. These 20 hours is where you brain is making those neural connections and they need to be kept activated so they become permanent otherwise they will fade. This also aids greatly in muscle memory, whether it’s learning the guitar, boxing combo’s and as already stated, ensure it’s quality practice.Practice

So that is just one simple example of using Lean as a Rapid Learning Tool. The principles of Lean can be used in all aspects of Business, personal and is also a very effective way of managing finances, which will be the topic of a Future State blog post