While shoveling the snow off my driveway a few weeks ago, I listened to Pat Flynn’s excellent interview with Tim Ferriss. Something in the interview caught my attention – so much so that I stopped shoveling to make a quick note of it.
Tim was talking about his recent book the Four Hour Chef, which, as he explained, is not so much about cooking as it is about how to quickly and effectively learn almost any skill. Cooking was the skill Tim chose to focus on because it was something he’d attempted to learn many times but failed. His goal was to crack the code of what it takes to really learn something difficult.
The thing that made me stop and take note as I was listening to Pat and Tim was how many sub-skills there were to being a good cook.
A few of the cooking sub-skills they mentioned were:
- Shopping and ingredient selection
- Kitchen preparation/organization
- Food preparation
- The actual act of assembling ingredients and “cooking” them
The foodies out there could probably list even more sub-skills and in better detail.
The Reason Tim Ferriss Failed
Tim identified that one of the reasons he had failed learning how to cook in the past was because he was focusing on the end objective before he focused on the necessary sub-skills. When Tim started breaking the goal of becoming a good cook down into its sub-skills and focusing on them one at a time, he started succeeding much more quickly.
Instead of attempting to make a fabulous meal at the outset, Tim chose to focus on shopping and ingredient selection and get really good at that. He found that if he could break things down into a small enough component, he could master it quickly and then move on to the next aspect.
The Big Shots Do It
High-performance people are good at this. They can take a complex problem and reverse-engineer it to its most basic elements. Most of us end up not pursuing new skills or not doing the things we dream about because we are intimidated by their enormity. If you are serious about setting an idea in motion, a great first step is to try to identify the smallest sub-facet of what you are trying to do and focus only on that.
Let’s do this!