Learning something new is tough stuff. As much as we all want to light a strong scene, direct talent better, or develop a much more robust story, there truly is no silver bullet. The reality is that learning something new and truly mastering a skill takes time. That’s where the real danger lies. It’s in that time that it takes that life often gets in the way.
If it doesn’t get put off in the first place, somewhere along the line, the effort often wanes and the real change doesn’t happen. I read a startling statistic online the other day that only a small fraction, about 20%, of those who register for open online courses actually finish. That’s a whole bunch of well-intentioned people who invested their hard-earned money and then so few followed through.
So we wanted to share some tips to help overcome that trend. We want you to be one of those who does finish, who masters the skill, and is constantly growing and trying new things. Shane’s a great example of somebody who always puts in the maximum effort and no matter where he is, he’s always looking to explore and learn something new.
At the bottom of this article, we have an announcement about what our friends at Muse Storytelling are up to. It’s a powerful way to become a master storyteller and put all of these ideas on learning a new skill into practice. But first, let’s dive into the tips!
If you have a new skill you want to master, here are six tips to help you get there.
1. Ask why at least three times.
Let’s say you want to master the latest drone techniques. Sometimes that’s an end in itself, that you truly want to fly a drone and it’s exciting for you. Heck, flying those things sure is a blast. But in most cases, we want to learn something to help us achieve a much larger goal. It is so critical to take the time and really clarify for yourself what that larger goal is.
Often that means asking “why” at least three times.
So when you first ask yourself why you want to learn the drone, perhaps it’s because you feel like everybody else in your area is offering it, and you just won’t be able to compete.
But why do you want to offer what everybody else is offering? When you ask “why” again perhaps the deeper truth is that you don’t have a ton of new clients and you’re worried that not having the tools and techniques others do will hold you back from getting new business.
When you then ask why a third time, we start to go deeper on the desire to really stand out and be able to attract new business. Wherever asking why three times leads you, it’s critical to understand the larger goal behind the action. Knowing why you’re trying to learn this will help you stay motivated. It may even help you find another solution that helps you get there in less time or in a way you never would have imagined.
Ask yourself “why” three times. It’s incredibly powerful.
2. Write it down.
Once you know the why behind what you want to learn, it’s time to make it clear to the world. So you want to learn how to work with a light meter in a really strong way. It may sound simple, but bringing it to the world by writing it down is an important first step. If you can write it down somewhere that you’ll run into every day, it serves as a constant reminder of your goal (and also the deeper why). That helps you stay focused, stay motivated, and helps you take the individual steps that are going to be needed to achieve that goal.
It could be the whiteboard by your desk, perhaps a dry erase marker or the mirror in your bathroom, or even the first page of your notebook. But make it real, and by making it real, make that commitment to yourself that you’re going to make this happen.
3. Make it clear.
One of the huge tips for mastering something new is to be really clear on the specifics. Know exactly what it is you want to learn. Know what will qualify as having learned or mastered that skill. And know the time period in which you want to learn it.
Back to our drone example. It’s easy to say you want to be a master at flying a drone. But when we really think about it, what does that really mean? So much can be gained by developing additional clarity around your goal. So instead, we could define mastering the drone as being able to fly it repeatedly, by yourself, and handle more complicated two-axis moves. You can see how that helps us get closer to really making the goal tangible. If we then said we wanted to be able to achieve this inside of two weeks, this goal starts to take a lot more shape and feel possible.
Be sure to clearly define your goal, what it means to achieve it, and give yourself a time frame in which you want to get it done.
4. Enroll others.
Community is such a powerful predictor of success. It’s one of the things we love the most about Shane’s Inner Circle – the way people support and help each other out. When it comes to mastering something new, you can unlock the power of community by enrolling others in your goal.
Writing it down serves as a reminder and motivation to yourself, but when you start to tell others, then you start feeling way more accountable for making it happen. You have others who will ask for updates, who will check in, and who will want to see you succeed.
To enroll somebody else, start by choosing to share with someone close to you whom you know will be supportive. We all have those friends who might be defensive or resistant when we say we want to do something awesome. You need to tell the friends who will be nothing but supportive. And when you do tell them, make sure to share the clear goal, the timeline, along with the deeper why behind it. You’ll inspire them with your intention and that will bring much more support in helping you make it to the finish line.
The really powerful thing is that the more people you enroll in your goal, the more likely it is to happen. Try to tell at least three others and watch just how much that changes your motivation and the actions you take.
5. Embrace Pareto (the 20%).
There was once an Italian man named Vilfredo Pareto who was an engineer, economist, social scientist, and philosopher. He developed what is commonly referred to as the Pareto Principle after realizing a common trend that 20% of the population owned 80% of the land or that 20% of peapods contained 80% of the peas.
The Pareto Principle states that 80% of your results will come from 20% of the causes. When it comes to mastering something new, there is often a vast amount of knowledge to take in and try to understand. But there is an incredible opportunity to focus on the 20% of the ideas that will make the largest impact.
In an effort to master lighting, you could get bogged down in trying to learn how every light fixture works and the difference between thousands of types of gels. If we apply the Pareto principle, it would suggest looking at the few ideas or concepts that will lead to the majority of the results. So for lighting, as an example, we might focus on really mastering the four properties of light and how they affect story. Deeply understanding these four things can play such a large role in your mastery of lighting.
With whatever it is you’re trying to learn, try not to get overwhelmed and bogged down by trying to learn everything. Focus on the critical parts and start with the things that will lead to the greatest results.
6. Take Early Action.
One of the largest challenges with learning something new is showing up consistently. The classic gym membership is the perfect example in which we go a few times at first and then months go by before we show up again.
Creating good habits is such a big part of creating the consistency needed to master something new. But that starts with taking action and taking it early. You need to give yourself a quick and easy win, something to feel proud about. That, paired with the clarity of the goal and the accountability in writing it down and telling others, will really go a long way in helping you to show up again tomorrow.
Now, if you want some help in mastering a new skill, we have a really exciting offering from Muse Storytelling. It’s called the Muse Masterclass and it’s a 14 week intensive course where they’ll help you find and deliver the strongest story you’ve ever told.
The focus is largely on deeply understanding story and applying their Muse Storytelling Process in your own project. Taking those actions and crafting your own story is where the ideas really stick. We’ve reviewed Muse in the past and we love what they’ve created. Don’t just take our word for it, the Muse team recently flew down to California and trained a team of Apple Creatives on their process and it’s being taught in a handful of colleges and universities.
The Muse Masterclass is $1,997 for the 14 week program, and you’ll get $250 off if you pay everything up front (they also offer payment plans). Here’s a short video from the Muse team all about the Masterclass. When you sign up you also get lifetime access to the whole Muse Universe, a collection of other powerful storytelling tools and courses.
They have less than a dozen spots left and registration closes this Monday morning (April 16th, 2016).