Mastering a new skill and becoming an expert

mastery comic

An oft-cited paper indicates that becoming the world’s greatest [insert dream skill here] is not strongly correlated with talent, lung capacity, IQ or any other innate trait.

Their study suggests that by far the most important factor in acquiring a skill is the time spent deliberately practicing the desired skill.

“Deliberate practice” simply means “no goofing around”.

The authors of the paper studied a bunch of different domains such as music, chess and the scientific endeavour. They found that roughly 10000 hours of deliberate practice is required to become the expert.

This is a lot of hours. For instance, at 20 hours a week this will take 10 years.

However, the great thing about this is that you are master of your own destiny. If you put your mind to it and put in the effort, the world is your oyster. Pursue your passion!

To help calculate your path to mastery, Supernifty has included a tool to figure out when you will be the next chess grandmaster or tennis world number one. Simply fill in the fields below:


If you are serious about mastering a skill, consider trying the Hourly Time Tracker to see how you are really spending your time. A “mastery” column predicts which activities you are becoming an expert at.

hourly tracker with mastery column

You might be a little sad to discover that you are rapidly becoming an expert at “work” or “TV”. Think about the incredible human body that you have been blessed with. Is this truly what you want to spend your life getting good at?

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