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How to master any skill – Badass

Corinna is smitten with “Badass – Making Users Awesome” by Kathy Sierra. On top of being arranged in the brain-friendly style of the “Head first” books and generally fantastic ideas, the book devotes about 50% of its time on a laying out how human skill acquisition works. More specifically: what we have to do to become experts at something. We just had to share it with you. And no go forth and become Badass (= really, really good) at something! And read “Badass”. It’s really good!

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Content of 1-Pager:

How to Master Any Skill

Here’s the 2 ingredients to becoming an expert at something

1. Deliberate Practice (not practising deliberately)

Big skills like playing the guitar consist of many smaller skills, like chords, songs, techniques, etc. Deliberate Practice aims to level up 1 specific subskill very fast. For example, cleanly playing part of a song or learning to play a new chord and transition between this new chord and the ones you had mastered before. In contrast, if you sit down with your guitar to poorly play the same 4 songs you already know, you practise deliberately. You practise how to play poorly. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent!


You make progress by concentrating on very few subskills at a time and mastering them quickly. If a subskill is too big to master in 3 (or fewer) sessions, break it down or simplify it until it fits. Half a skill beats half-assed skill! lead to Rejection, when present.

2. Lots and lots of great examples

Seeing great examples can be a shortcut for getting things from “Can’t do” to “Mastered”. The brain is fantastic at finding patterns and becoming skilled, even if you don’t know how you know. You just know, you know?


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