It’s no secret: we all strive for greatness. Maybe it’s greatness at playing basketball, writing, teaching, or leading. The reality is that everybody is great at something. Think about your strengths – what are you good at?

Maybe you’re thinking of a degree you earned or a class you took. In practice, most of the learning and skill building we go through is self-taught. You likely learned emotional intelligence after lots of reflecting on relationships, for example.

So how effective are you at teaching yourself?

Simply put, learning skills takes a very long time. The old adage that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill is no joke, and while the exact metrics are often debated it’s widely understood that it takes lots of practice to become proficient in a skill.

Everybody knows practice is necessary, but nobody can devote 10,000 hours to learning every skill. How do we structure this practice to have maximum growth in minimum time?

The Power of Habit

Going to the gym for one day or taking one class will not cause significant long-term development. Why?

Accomplishments don’t change your life. Habits do.

It’s no secret that improvement takes time and energy, but the starting point for skill development comes when we make improvement part of a daily routine rather than a distant goal to accomplish.

Setting aside an entire day to learn a skill is less effective than setting aside an hour every day for several months.

For a lot of skills, this seems obvious. Run a mile consistently and each day you’ll get a little faster. Practice arithmetic and you’ll be a professor in no time.

For some skills, this is much easier said than done. Skills that are built using dynamic learning rather than static learning typically are much harder to learn on your own. How has society adapted to utilize this? Let’s take a look at modern education.

Schools Aren’t Adapting

If you were to fall asleep in class in the 1800s and wake up in the 1990s, you wouldn’t miss much. Classrooms would still be dotted with students falling asleep at wooden desks with their heads in a large textbook and their minds elsewhere.

Then came the 21st century and YouTube killed the textbook. Why? The medium of content is much more eye catching and aesthetically appealing. It’s easier and faster to watch than to read, and is a lot easier to take in small steps.

The model of memorizing and being tested makes learning an accomplishment, not a habit. What’s the best way to take learning into our own hands and to use the power of habit?

Startups are Changing the Game

The power of habit is an old concept that is constantly being implemented in new ways. Technology has made it easier for skill building to become habitual, and almost second nature.

A Boston-based startup called Arist, for example, has taken the power of habit and adapted it to modern topics such as entrepreneurship and public speaking. The so called “SMS University” sends daily texts with content and exercises on a daily basis to teach over time.

Companies like Arist are so successful because they utilize the power of habit.


Want to learn a skill quickly? Mark an hour on your calendar every day to practice it. The starting point for skill development comes when we make improvement part of a daily routine rather than a distant goal to accomplish.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and is completed by the same effort.

Accomplishments won’t change your life, habits will.

Author’s Note

The power of habit works! I used it to teach myself public speaking.

I was once shy and introverted with little self-confidence. At the age of fourteen, I was encouraged to join my school’s debate team. I did not enjoy being behind the podium and could not handle being the center of attention. Practicing and learning public speaking is what changed all of that, and as a result, my life has significantly improved.

My passion is helping others learn public speaking and improve their self-confidence. This has driven me to found Learn to SpeakOut.

If you would like help improving your confidence and public speaking skills, please visit, join our Facebook Group or email me.

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Influence grows when great leadership meets great communication. The best investment you can make is in yourself.

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