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17 Steps To Acquiring A New Skill Faster Than You Thought Possible

17 Steps To Acquiring A New Skill Faster Than You Thought Possible

In the movie Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and group possessed to learn anything in the matter of seconds. To download the ability to fly a helicopter and fight like Bruce Lee. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize. Our current generation being marked as the age of knowledge and information, through the internet we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. Furthermore, the whole idea being a natural born genius is being questioned and replaced more with the gift of being able to learn a skill.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style rapid learning.

1. Deconstruct & Reverse Engineer

Break the skill that you are desiring to learn down into little pieces and master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill. For example, learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

2. Pareto Principle

Identify the 20% work that will give you 80% of the results. In learning a language it does not take long to realize that there are a few very kew words that pop up over and over again. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words” for example and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

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3. Make Stakes (not steaks)

Establish and implement some sort of punishment for you in not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Place a bet with a friend to light that fire under your bottom.

4. Record Yourself

Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistake and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group

There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it is a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel

Visit the Library. Although everything is becoming more and more online, there are still such things called libraries. Whether it is a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically search out the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

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7. Be a Chameleon

Imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Mimic what you see. Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. Youtube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

8. F.O.C.U.S.

Follow one course until success! It is easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do. There are a lot of conversations calling to ditch the whole idea of multitasking as it has been shown to be detrimental and a myth. Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize

The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing. Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results.

10. Find a Mentor

Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made. Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning of a new skill. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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11. Sleep On It

Practice your new skill within 4 hours of going to sleep. Josh Kaufman is a noted rapid learning expert and tells us that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics needed are ingrained at a quicker level.

12. The 20 Hour Rule

Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magical number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill. His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.

13. Learn By Doing

It is easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to do something and never actually get around to doing it. The best way to learn is to do. Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are continually physically engaged. Keep alternating between research and practice…research…practice…

14. Short Sprints

Rather than try to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and have a stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks and so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

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15. Ditch the Distractions

Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Before you sit down to practice, make sure whatever potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Nootropics

Otherwise known as brain enhancers. These cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements. Many student will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide, particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

17. Celebrate

Every single little win that you experience on the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This will encourage you to press on toward the goal!

Most of all, have fun. Learning a new skill should be exciting and something you cannot wait to practice every day. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation. To love life is to continually be learning and challenging yourself.

Featured photo credit: seriousbri via flickr.com

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Published on February 12, 2019

10 Ways to Improve Team Management Skills and Boost Performance

10 Ways to Improve Team Management Skills and Boost Performance

I have spent the majority of my life as an entrepreneur, as did my father, grandfather and great-grandfather. It just seemed to be something in our genes that made us want to stretch out our wings and do our own thing.

But a few years ago, I sold my businesses and got tired of the golf 5 days a week. Not to mention that health insurance as well as other costs where going up and my income wasn’t. So I decided to take a job as a manager with a fortune 500 company. Here I would get income, benefits and a taste of corporate life that I had never experienced.

I lasted two months! In my opinion, the management style hurt productivity much more than it helped. As a manager, I was expected to rule my team with an iron fist. It was literally in their handbook that no matter how good an employee was, there was no such thing as a perfect employee so I was to address the most minor issues with the best employees. This never helped team cohesiveness and frankly created resentment between management and employee.

So after two months, I walked into the bosses office and said that I was not fit for the corporate culture at this company. Despite never telling me I had done a good job, he started offering me incentives to stay, more pay, a better position etc… But I knew that this was the companies culture from the beginning and it wasn’t going to change, so I politely declined and started my own affiliate marketing business.

Now over the years I have owned and operated many different types of businesses with the number of employees ranging from 1 (me), to over 400 and plenty in-between, I have tried many different management styles and while depending on the business and who your employees are, some management styles worked better than others. But generally, I have found ten relatively simple ways to improve team management skills and boost productivity.

I have found that if you’re an owner, high level executive or just a manager of a single team of people these ten tips can boost productivity in almost every situation:

1. Be Clear About Your Goals and Write Them Down

Now this part in particular needs to be written by the owner or CEO, as the lower level managers will take those goals and apply them to their own teams of people.

Note that this doesn’t mean writing down “We are going to make widgets and become the most profitable widget maker in the world.” Anyone could come up with that. Your goals must be clear and attainable and have ways to measure progress. A much clearer goal would be to increase profits by 10% in a year. You can then have specific goals for the managers of different departments.

For example the goal for the marketing manager may be to find new and more efficient ways of marketing so that your marketing efforts reach 5% more customers with the same budget. The production manager may have some good ideas about streamlining production to increase productivity. A goal for the sales manager maybe to break into a new or untapped market.

The important thing is that your overall goals are clear, all of your managers are on board and know what is expected of them and that you continuously monitor each departments progress. This process should be repeated by your managers to their team members.

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2. Come up with Objectives

Now this may sound the same a coming up with goals, but it’s not.

Goals can be thought of as the end result, where you want to be. Objectives are the steps you must take to reach the goals. Take a look at this article to know their differences:

Goals vs Objectives: How to Use Them to Become Successful in Life?

For example. a goal might be to increase customer satisfaction and the objectives to getting there might include faster shipping times, easier returns and improvements in customer service etc.

4. Hire Competent People, Then Get out of Their Way

As a manager, your boss or senior executive should have gone over the companies goals so that you have a good understanding of where the company wants to be. A good manager should set out clear goals for the department with reasonable, attainable and measurable goals. You can then take the goals that have been set for your department and give them to each employee according to their skill level.

Now you may have noticed the second part of the tip was to “get out of their way.” This is only if you hired the people who have the correct skills. Part of your job as a manager is to check on and measure progress of your employees. If you are finding someone who just can’t seem to keep up, try setting them up with a mentor, or even beak down their job responsibilities so they don’t seem overwhelming.

But the bottom line is that you have a responsibility to the company to get your part of the overall mission finished on time and done well, otherwise it reflex on you as a manager. While no one likes it, termination maybe the only solution.

5. Have Regular Meetings with Your Staff

Problems, issues and bottlenecks will inevitably arise in any organization. Part of your job as a manager is to identify the issues and correct them before they become problems.

Having regular productive meetings with your staff is key to identifying problems before they get out of control.

Let’s just say that your employees are having a hard time shipping items on time because they can’t get them from the warehouse soon enough. This is where you earn your money!

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What you don’t want is people from the shipping department calling up the warehouse and it turning into a screaming match. It’s time for a meeting with the warehouse manager. Perhaps the issue is that they aren’t getting reliable predictions about the number of units being sold each month. Now we have identified the problem, a lack of communication between sales and warehouse.

Almost all issues arise because of a lack (or problem with) communication. A good manager will be the go between for the team and the managers of the other teams. As long as cool heads prevail, you can almost always come up with a solution that satisfies everyone.

6. Use the “Sandwich” Method When Dealing with Problems That Arise from Otherwise Good Employees

Everyone makes mistakes, some are small and can be dealt with a memo to the team or a quick word with the offending employee. However, an otherwise excellent employee can make a major mistake that can cause a serious disruption to your units responsibility. These types of problems need to be addressed by you, the manager.

As long as this is a one time occurrence and the employee has not had issues in the past. The sandwich approach is the the best.

Start by explaining that the employee is valuable to the organization and that their work has generally been a positive influence in the company.

Next address the problem that occurred and what steps could be taken to avoid simular problem in the future.

Close the conversation by reiterating the value the employee has to the company and reinforce the steps that will be taken to avoid the problem again.

7. Always Remember That Examples Work Better Than Positive Reinforcement or Negative Reinforcement

The carrot and the stick has always been a resource for managing employees. You can use the carrot to entice your employees to do what you want, or you can use the stick to punish the employees for not doing what was expected of them. Or you can be an example of whats expected of them.[1]

As I said before, everyone screws up, including you. When you do screw up, take responsibility for it!

Part of your job as a manager is to be an example to those you manage. Be open about your mistakes and the steps you are taking to avoid doing the same thing in the future. After all, you can’t expect your employees to admit mistakes if you’re not the example.

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There should be a process in place for when things like this happens. Acknowledge the problem, analyze the root cause of the problem, implement procedures to avoid reoccurrence of the mistake, evaluate the solution you’ve come up with and, if it works, move on.

8. Be Smart About Building Your Team

As a manager, you have to deal with a lot of different situations, people and personalities. You also are going to be given new and sometimes more responsibilities, including things like budgeting, forecasts, presentations and payroll. So think seriously about your own strengths and weaknesses so you can hire accordingly.

You want people who will complement your strengths and help you with your weaknesses. There’s an old saying that you should “hire slow and fire quickly “.[2] It’s a good thing to keep in mind, take your time to find the right person for the job.

Once you have trained them and given them all the tools for the job, then you can evaluate them. If for whatever reason they aren’t living up to expectations (that you were clear about!) Then, it might be best to terminate them quickly and search for a new person.

I see so many situations where a person is hired for a job that they aren’t qualified for or just can’t do a good job at and they stay there year after year. Keeping the wrong people will hurt your team, inspire resentment with the other team members and you’ll spend a lot more time babysitting instead of focusing on more important things.

This actually goes back to taking responsibility for your mistakes. You’ve identified the mistake of hiring the wrong person, so solve it quickly, rectify it by hiring the right person and move on.

9. Maintain a Positive Attitude and Promote It Within Your Team

We’ve all had that grumpy boss or coworker who never seemed to care much. Did you respect and look up to them? Of course not, people are naturally attracted to others who have an upbeat positive attitude.

Having a positive attitude will make your job as a manager so much easier just because people are much more likely to follow you.

As for your team, encourage team building activities. We know that not everyone will like or even get along with everyone else. So use team building exercises as a way to make sure that your team stays goal orientated.

10. Don’t Forget to Use Positive Reinforcement

Often, we get too caught up in what we are doing. After all, as managers, we are usually juggling several different issues, problems and deadlines all at once, that we forget to just say “thank you”.

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Don’t have the attitude that your employees are just doing their jobs. That project deadline that got pushed up, the unexpected project that got dropped on your teams lap make everyone’s life harder. Especially yours, you now have one more ball to juggle.

So when that project gets done on time or you made the new deadline, don’t forget to show gratitude to your team who were the ones that really made it possible. Yes, you still have 4 balls juggling in the air, but just like having a positive attitude makes you a more effective leader.

Positive reinforcement strengthens that manager employee relationship.[3] It can take many different forms, and will vary by company, some may allow an extra day of PTO, gift cards, public recognition or just a private acknowledgement from you the boss, whatever form it takes it’s important that their achievements are appreciated.

The Bottom Line

Managers have multiple responsibilities and jobs to preform, and I can guarantee that one of the most important tasks of management is to utilize all the company’s assets in the most efficient and productive way possible.

If you manage employees, then they represent a large company asset that you have an obligation to run as productively as possible.

By giving your employees the proper training up-front and practicing good communication techniques, you can minimize the time you spend fixing mistakes and focus on delivering on-time projects and new business. This can mean a huge increase in productivity at minimal costs.

I don’t know any boss that wouldn’t like to see a boost in performance that takes little to no investment. So set yourself up for success with these 10 tips to improve team management skills and boost performance.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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