Learning New Things

I am a big believer in learning new things. I love to learn, all of the time. Perhaps it’s because I am a “type A” personality that rarely sits still. Or it may be the example my grandfather set for me as a lover of learning. It’s what I’ve tried to teach my kids and how I chose their school. When I asked the Principal what she would want the kids to take away from their experience at her school, she simply said, “the love of learning.” And I was sold.

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I recently heard about a new book by Josh Kaufman, “The First 20 Hours, How to Learn Anything Fast.” The premise is that research suggests it takes 10,000 hours to master a new skill, with the earliest hours being the most frustrating. What if it’s possible to learn the basics of any new skill in 20 hours or less? The author offers a systematic approach to rapid skill acquisition by deconstructing complex skills, maximizing productive practice and removing some learning barriers. With this method, he suggests we can pick up basic new skills of anything in 20 hours of focused and deliberate practice.

Wow, that sounds awesome. I saw Josh Kaufman demonstrate his approach in learning to play the ukelele. Perfect – the ukelele is on my list (I’m from Hawaii)! I plan to acquire this book and try his method.

Here’s what I’m learning now: GOLF.

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My husband is absolutely thrilled! However, I have reminded him numerous times to retain his excitement as … I may not like golf. Frankly, I’ve never really understood the obsession some people have for golf. Hitting a little ball over great distances with a stick to get it into a small hole? But with my third child almost grown and a new love of the Desert where golf is everywhere, I decided to give it a try.

I started by visiting a local driving range and hitting balls a few times with some old clubs of my husband’s to see if I was interested at all. Then I asked who was teaching there and was fortunate to find my youngest son’s previous teacher who I have always enjoyed. He had a 5-series lesson for beginners and it sounded fun. By the fifth lesson, he would take me out on the 9-hole course to play. I was somewhat amazed (and skeptical) that he could get me out there that quickly.

I just finished lesson #4 today and I am having a blast! I have invested 4 hours in lessons and a few hours in practice. I bought a starter set of clubs for a reasonable investment of $300, which I can return within a year and apply the cost to another set if I really get the bug. I have learned the set-up, some etiquette, how to hit most of my clubs, what works for me and what doesn’t. I have had a lot of fun along the way, and realize that it’s really not as hard as I thought it would be. I love being outdoors and I love that I can stop by the range for 30 minutes after I drop my son off at school in the morning and practice my new skill. I love that I have some ability after such a short time but that there is much, much more to learn.

In addition to the ukelele, my shortlist of things I want to learn includes: learning japanese, spanish, italian, boning-up on my french, studying the maharajahs in India and taking singing lessons. That should keep me busy for awhile!

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