Shrink the Learning Curve on Everything

In the fast-paced, ‘get it and go’ world we live in today, shrinking the learning curve on new things has become a virtual necessity, and one way to stay ahead of the competition. In most areas of life, there are tangible benefits to getting better, faster and accelerating our ability to acquire new competencies and skills.

In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell stated that it requires 10,000 hours of practice (10,000-Hour Rule) to master a specific task. Unless you plan to become a brain surgeon, most of us don’t have 10K hours to devote to the mastery of new competencies, skills, projects or tasks.

Learning Curve

So, what are some proven ways to shrink the learning curve and move from “you don’t know what you don’t know” to mastery without cutting corners or sacrificing quality? 

Here are some specific ways that you can shrink the learning curve on new projects or tasks and hit the ground running in less time.

  1. Focus and clarity. Create S.M.A.R.T. goals and plans. Make sure you’re clear on what you want to get done, and your goals and plans are specific, measurable and doable within the timeframes you have established.
  2. Do your research and planning upfront. This will enable you to focus your energy and resources on the task at hand and by doing so, spend more time doing and less time thinking about it.
  3. Make sure you are up to the task. Do you have the time, resources and commitment level required to successfully complete the project? If yes, keep going; if no, STOP.
  4. Take a self-paced online course on This is a faster and economical way to acquire new knowledge and expertise versus a traditional classroom setting. (Shameless plug) Review my online course, Discover YOUR Formula for Success as a good example:
  5. Remember the “theory of eating an elephant”. Breakdown new projects or tasks into manageable bites so you don’t get overwhelmed and end up adding weeks or months to the timeline.
  6. Develop benchmarks to track your progress and hold yourself accountable for results. Commit to a completion date. This will help you develop the sense of urgency that is required to reach the finish line in less time.
  7. Emphasize continuous improvement. Think of the learning curve process in terms of the alphabet. There are 25 steps to get from the letter ‘A’ to ‘Z’. How do you reduce the number of steps from 25 to 24, then 23, 22 and so forth, without sacrificing quality?
  8. Seek expert advice and counsel. One of the best ways to shrink the learning curve is to seek out a coach or mentor who has mastered what you are trying to accomplish, and can help guide you through the learning process.
  9. Reward yourself for a job well done. Make sure to celebrate your achievements once you have successfully reached your goals. You’ve earned it!

Next time you set out to acquire a new skill, or take on that new project or task outside your knowledge base or comfort zone, remember these nine suggested ways to shrink the learning curve and enable you to reap the benefits of your labor sooner rather than later.

Enjoy the journey!



COPYRIGHT © 2014 John Carroll