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How to use the Rule of 100 to change your life

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

As part of my coaching, I work with clients to use something called the Rule of 100 to help them improve a current skill or create and master some new ones. The Rule of 100 says if you spend 100 hours of deliberate practice learning any discipline in a year, which is about 18 minutes a day, you will be better than 95% of the world's population in that discipline. This could be anything from Karate, playing guitar, juggling, solving a rubik's cube, or increasing your capabilities in Executive Level Finance for that next promotion. This doesn’t mean that you will make it to the Olympics in Karate or be the next Guinness World record holder in solving the rubrics cube while juggling, but you will be better than 95% of that discipline in the world.

The concept is based on the research of Anders Ericsson, who found that expertise is largely the result of deliberate practice. Ericsson's research indicates that deliberate practice involves focusing on the specific areas of a skill that need improvement. It requires breaking down the skill into smaller components and working on each one intentionally. By doing this, you can train your brain to work more efficiently and effectively, ultimately leading to mastery.

To use the 100-hour rule to develop a new skill, here are a number of steps to consider:

1. Identify your skill: The first step is to identify the skill you want to develop. This could be anything from learning a new language to mastering a musical instrument or learning executive-level financial skills. I suggest picking something that will have a profound impact on your personal or professional goals. Learning to juggle is nice but it might not get you hooked on using the rule to change your life in many other areas.

2. Set a specific goal: Align your new skill with a goal that is important to you. Setting a specific goal will help you stay motivated and focused throughout the 100 hours of practice. For example, if your goal is to learn executive-level financial skills so that you can get that next promotion or be more effective in your current role, then align your deliberate practice to this specific goal. Write down the goal and look at it every day. (see my WTF Model for more goal-setting tips)

3. Create a schedule: Dedicate a set amount of time each day or week to practice your skill. This will help you stay on track and ensure that you are making progress towards your goal. Be consistent with your practice time to establish a routine and make it a habit. Pick 18 – 30 mins a day, the same time of day and make sure you do it for 90 days straight to help solidify that as a habit. (review my other post on habit formation for more details)

4. Focus on deliberate practice: Deliberate practice involves breaking down the skill into smaller components and working on the areas that need improvement. This means identifying your weaknesses and working on them intentionally. For example, if you're learning to play the guitar, you might focus on improving your finger placement or your strumming technique.

5. Track your progress: Keep a record of your progress to help you stay motivated. This could be a journal where you write down your achievements or a spreadsheet where you track your practice hours. Seeing how far you've come will help you stay focused on your goal. Also, I think it is critical to leverage your network to help evaluate your progress or answer questions where you get stuck.

6. Take micro rest: there are some recent studies that say you should incorporate “Micro Rest Intervals” into the learning process. These intervals involve taking brief pauses of about 10 seconds randomly throughout the learning session. Scientific findings suggest that taking these brief breaks significantly enhances the process of neuroplasticity.

7. Continue learning: After you've completed your 100 hours of deliberate practice, continue learning and improving your skills. This could mean taking advanced classes or finding new ways to challenge yourself.

In conclusion, the 100-hour rule is an effective way to develop a new skill. By breaking down the skill into smaller components, setting a specific goal, creating a schedule, focusing on deliberate practice, tracking your progress, taking micro-rest, and continuing to learn, you can achieve mastery in just 100 hours. What are you going to master?

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