Posted on March 7, 2011 by Colin

7 Days, 7 New Skills

 

I’m coming to the end of an experiment that I was running last month, which had me taking some time each day to question something that I ‘knew’ to be true, and imagine how the world would look different if it weren’t.

The experiment I’ve started today is a little different: for the next 7 days, I’m going to try and learn one new thing – using resources I find on the Internet – each day.

For example, this morning I pulled up a YouTube video on how to juggle.

It sounds silly, but this is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m fascinated by anything that helps increase your manual dexterity, and it has always seemed like a fun challenge. Also, I know how somewhat useless skills can be a lot of fun when you just need to turn off your brain for a few minutes and keep your hands occupied.

So I took an hour and 3 little bean bags that were lying around, and I learned.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m really still quite terrible at juggling – but now I CAN juggle. Three bean bags. In a total of one hour and two minutes (one hour of practice, 2 minutes of video watching) I was able to get a basic level of proficiency in a skill that I’ve been wanting to learn for 10 years, and the rest will come with practice.

And that’s the point of this: to achieve a level of proficiency that will allow me to practice and get better.

The most difficult part of learning a new skill is generally the initial hurdle of picking up the basics.

In the case of juggling, throwing one ball back and forth enough that you feel comfortable making a standard arc takes a little while, and then it takes just as long to get comfortable with two balls and to move on to three. Once you’re past that barrier to entry, though, it’s just a matter of doing it over and over again until you get faster and are able to add more balls (or beanbags).

Day one has been a success and a lot of fun. Let’s hope day 2 goes just as well or better.

Any suggestions as to what else I should learn? Keep in mind that the ideal skill won’t require any equipment I don’t already have.