Mastery Quadrant #2 – DECONSTRUCT

Learning something new or attempting to drastically improve your skills, can often be a very daunting task. While you may have some sense on where you want to reach, the path to get there is often not as clear. Additionally, most of our larger goals are complex and require us to be able to do a number of different things well (not all of which may be clear in the start).

Which is why, before you attempt to learn something new / improve your existing skills, it is very useful to spend time deconstructing your goal into it’s various sub-components.

Benefits of Deconstruction

This has a number of benefits including:

  • Simplification: Deconstruction helps simplify a large and overwhelming goal, into a series of smaller achievable tasks.
  • Maps your journey: With an ambitious goal, it can be difficult to understand where to begin and what you need to do. Deconstruction provides you a map that gives you clarity of the journey ahead.
  • Easier to learn: Larger comprehensive skills can be difficult to pick up, but learning smaller intermediate skills can be a lot easier to learn.
  • Solves the weakest link: A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. The same holds true for any activity that you do – the quality is determined by how well you do each sub-activity. Deconstruction helps you identify and work on any weak link, ensuring that weak execution in one sub-activity does not adversely impact your larger goal.

All professionals deconstruct

If you study the top professionals across fields, you will notice that all professionals learn through deconstruction, and never attempt to learn all the skills in one go. Consider

  • Footballers: playing football well, requires you to be good at a number of different skills. You need to be able to dribble, make short & long passes, head the ball, take free kicks, take penalty kicks and have the stamina to last 90 minutes of game play. Footballers perfect these skills one at a time in practice, through countless repetitive sessions of doing just one thing (e.g. heading the ball), instead of trying to perfect all skills at one go by playing matches every day.
  • All sportsmen: the same principle hold’s true for all sportsmen. Take any sport, and you will find the top professionals breaking up the various parts and learning each part individually, instead of all together. Consider tennis players practicing their serve, cricketers practicing fielding, a sprinter his start and so on.
  • Artists: top musicians will spend a tremendous amount of time perfecting specific notes, certain chords, different techniques and so on, instead of just playing complete songs all day long. This would hold true for all artists- such as as actors spending time solely on voice training, photographers perfecting lighting etc.
  • Great businesses: What holds true for individual professionals, also holds true for the largest most successful companies. All of the best companies, will have clearly defined departments that focus on being the best they can be, and spending a great amount of time on perfecting and improving their individual execution.

Amateurs attempt to master it all at once

In direct contrast to the professionals, amateurs typically have little patience to deconstruct and learn each skill individually. They are too eager to ‘get into the game’, ‘get started’ and move into ‘action’.

They will learn football by playing football, learn tennis by playing tennis, learn to blog by blogging, learn digital marketing by starting to post online or learn to run a business by starting a business.

Learning automatically becomes a lot more complicated, and they never get a grasp on how to do each specific thing really well, as the true masters do. While they may spend the same time learning, the learning is complicated, tiring and overall not as effective.

Over a period of time, they realize that they are ‘simply not as good’ as the professionals, or ‘don’t have what it takes’. Sadly, too often the simple truth, is that they failed to deconstruct.

As Mastery Quadrant, all content that we create, and any skill that we advise you to improve upon, will include clearly defined steps on how you can deconstruct your larger goal into smaller more achievable steps, making your journey towards mastery as easy as possible.

Once you have deconstructed your goal, into the key sub-activities that you need to master, it is time to move to the learning quadrant, to address what is the best source for gaining knowledge. Learn more at MQ #3 – Learning.