Difference Between Learning and Mastering a New Skill

4 min readJan 28, 2022

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile from Pexels

There is a difference between learning a new skill and mastering a new skill. Here are some techniques to help you master a skill:

1. Define What It Means to You to “master” the Skill

Everybody interprets things differently. What does it mean to master and use a skill?

2. Pick the Right Skill

There are probably lots of skills that you want to learn. However, this doesn’t mean that you should try to learn all of them. It’s much more likely that you’ll persevere in your attempts to learn some skills more than others.

3. Ask Yourself Why You Want to Master the New Skill

You ask yourself the following questions:
•What specific problem am I trying to solve by learning and mastering this skill?
•Are there certain aspects of the skill that are more applicable to my situation than others?

4. Adopt New Learning Modes

This calls for unlearning old methods that were once common to acquire new skills. The best way to unlearn old methods is by opting for courses that utilize innovative techniques, relevant curriculum and teaching methodologies that now prevail.

5. Practice What You Learn

This is one of the most powerful strategies to master any new skill. Practice what you learn. Any knowledge, talent or skill without practice or the necessary action tends to become redundant and loses importance over a period of time.

6. Acquire Subskills

Successful learners manage a variety of skills simultaneously, like a conductor directs an orchestra. Subskill is a skill that is part of & necessary to another more complex skill.

E.g Reading has some subskills

Listening has some subskills.

7. Form Peer Group

Try and find people in your personal learning network– either virtual or brick-and-mortar that have a similar learning needs with you & are trying to acquire certain skills.

8. Eliminate Difficulties

You can expect difficulties when you try to master any new skill. I will suggest you write a personal SWOT/TOWS analysis to help you minimize weaknesses and eliminate threats during your personal development (studying and upskilling).

9. Join a Professional Group/Forum

This is possible online through professional networking platforms, including LinkedIn. You will come across several professionals that share your experience. Check for professional groups on LinkedIn, Shapr, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

10. Take Supporting Courses (online or in class)

You will find several RELEVANT short courses that support the main one to master a new skill. If time and resources permit, enroll for those. Learning is a lifelong process. Don't waste your time on irrelevant courses.

11. Set a Specific and Measurable Learning Goals

When you choose a skill that you want to learn, you have to write down your objective as a goal statement. However, you have to make sure that the goal is specific, and not vague.

12. Give Yourself a Deadline

If you apply Parkinson's Law to mastering a new skill, the law says that the longer you give yourself to learn the skill, the more work you’ll end up doing to acquire the skill. At the same time, the opposite is also true.

13. Do Preliminary Research

Find a few books, YouTube videos, tutorials, courses, and so on about the skill that you want to master a skill. Make sure that you choose high quality resources that are relevant and engaging.

14. Don’t Get Bogged Down With Details at This Point

You’re just trying to develop a general mental framework of the process that you’ll follow to master the skill. So please relax, breathe and tell yourself mastering a new skill is a gradual, progressive process.

15. Deconstruct the Skill

Most skills are a bundle of skills. You can break down–or deconstruct the new skill into subskills you can easily focus on. Deconstructing a skill will help you to avoid overwhelm. In addition, it will help you to make your practice time more efficient.

Functional expertise is shifting rapidly — constant learning is necessary to stay on top of the game. However, to thrive in change requires moving beyond subject-matter.

16. Use Meta-skills

It allows you to leverage other skills, made up of practical knowledge tied to an internal sense of self-efficacy. Meta-skills magnify and activate other skills. It’s is a high order skill that allows you to engage with functional expertise more effectively.

17. Apply the Pareto Principle

80/20 rule: 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. How does this principle apply to mastering a new skill? When mastering a new skill, identify those sub-skills which will give you 80% or more of the outcome that you want.

18. Practice More

Practicing is the only way to learn anything. Unfortunately, practicing can be monotonous. That’s why in order to learn a new skill, you need to have discipline and patience.

There are many ways you can use and master a new skill - find what works for you.




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