Sunday, October 1

How to Level Up Your Skills

The experience of developing a specialist skill is one that people undertake every day for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the skills in question are essential to your profession – in which case, continuing to improve them could be seen as a vital prerequisite for continuing to develop in your chosen career. 

Other times, people learn a new skill for fun. This could be anything, from playing an instrument to getting good at a specific game. Fortunately, no matter why you’re keen to continue to learn and develop, the same basic tips apply.


Those who can truly be called masters of their craft normally attribute this status to a healthy blend of natural talent and learned skill. It can be tempting to try to continually improve at your chosen skill using instinct and luck to guide you along the way. For some people, this can work – but it’s not common.

A sounder strategy, and one that’s certain to continually reward you with meaningful development, is to gain a deeper understanding of the skill you’re learning. For example, someone who wants to learn a complex sport – such as fencing – will need to study many specific elements of the activity if they have hopes of truly distinguishing themselves in it. 

From learning postures, to getting an overview of the history and development of the sport, to reading up on tactics – every bit of information will ultimately contribute to making you a better fencer.

The same applies even if your goals are more modest. For example, if you want to develop a better understanding of the rules of poker, making the most of comprehensive resources provided by leading industry names can ensure you won’t be mixing up your straight and royal flushes any time soon.

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Teach Others

This may sound counterintuitive, but it takes advantage of a well studied psychological phenomenon known as the protégé effect. 

In essence, the protégé effect refers to when the act of teaching or explaining something to others ultimately reinforces and deepens your own understanding of the subject in question. To get to grips with how this works, one needs to consider what the act of teaching someone necessitates. 

To teach someone something you must first break down a subject into digestible pieces, then structure the information you’re sharing in a logical sequence that benefits your student. Fortunately, in doing so, you’re also getting the benefit of revising what you know in the process.

This can lead to unexpected new connections, or surprising new perspectives in how you think about or approach the subject in question. Students often ask obvious questions, and sometimes the process of answering a seemingly basic question can lead to real benefits in the way you approach the subject.


Like all persistent cliches, there’s no denying that the saying ‘practice makes perfect’ carries a lot of truth behind it. And of course, most people reading this will have already considered that the single top tip for improving in a skill has got to be practising it. 

This is true, though it’s important to know how to practise well to get the most out of it. For one, it’s best to focus on consistency over intensity. While there’s a real appeal and a sense of ‘getting something done’ when we dedicate a heavy work block to our given area for improvement – think a 3-hour French class – this often has diminishing returns in the long run.

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This is because our brains, and our psychology, both respond better to consistency. The benefits of splitting that 3 hour French class into seven, 25 minute classes, are huge. Not only does this become something we find easier to fit into our schedules, but, if we miss one, we can pick up where we left off the day before.

Finally, we’re much more likely to burn out or lose interest in a subject if we’re pushing too hard. Take your time, allow space for exploration and creativity, and you’ll be ordering drinks in a second language in no time.

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