Learning, Developing and Improving Skills

Here’s my attempt to provide a straightforward method to learn, develop and improve any skill, and it’s as simple as;

  • Focus,
  • Feedback,
  • Fix, and
  • Repeat.

Focus

Narrow down the aspect of skill that you need to improve. Focus on one part of this skill only, whether it’s your foot placement while kicking a conversion/penalty in rugby/soccer?, or the timing of your swimming strokes? Could it be improving the shading around eyes for a portrait artist? Maybe it’s a particular food plating technique you’d like to improve, if you’re a chef?

Feedback

Complete the skill several times, analysing what feels and looks correct. If something doesn’t feel/look right then experiment and play with some changes. At this point be aware that your conceptions of what is correct, right or even satisfactory may actually be wrong, so you may need external or expect feedback to help you change your perspective and grow as a professional.

Fix

Where the feedback comes from isn’t as important as what you do with it. If you receive feedback that challenges any of your previously held understandings about the skill then you need to assimilate the feedback into your current understanding, or change your understanding completely. Either way, you’ll open up an entirely new dimension of understanding the skill. Changing your mental perspective is the first step. Then it’s onto physical action.

Take the feedback, adjust the skill, and practice/rehearse the adjustment until it becomes automatic and can be put to test in a stressful environment or situation. The final part is important! Test your adjusted skill during a competition, game, performance or under exam conditions to find out if it’s become ingrained within your skill set.

Repeat

Hopefully you realise that more than one iteration is needed here for you to improve!

You won’t reach excellence by improving just one aspect of your performance a single time. But you’ve taken the first, of many, deliberate adjustments towards excelling. So repeat the process until you are satisfied with the outcome.

To finish, remember that celebrating your improvement and learning experiences are an important factor in maintain motivation as you improve.