One of the areas that fascinates me as a trainer is how people learn. One of the big ideas over the last few years has been the idea of “deliberate practice” as outlined by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. In this book, he argues that it takes 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” to achieve mastery/ excellence in anything.  However while he does argue that it’s a process..i.e. people who have done 3000 hours will have more skill than those who have done 3 he doesn’t really address what people who are newbies really need.

I found myself thinking a lot about that because one of the things I’ve noticed is that, broadly speaking people who come to Excel training fall into two camps. People who have been catapulted into a job where they really need to quickly learn Excel from a low base so they are newbies and then I have a (smaller) group of people who want to get faster and more efficient – people who are approaching or at mastery stage. They require quite different approaches.

I came across an article by Scott Young which encapsulates this beautifully and which argues that these groups need very different strategies. For beginners (Excel Novice)it has to be just about showing up, doing something.  As he puts it “Volume First,Efficiency later” For the near-masters (Excel Adept) it has to be about identifying where they are weak and focussing on improving that; learning how to work faster, get more efficient, getting smarter.

This got me thinking about how I could reflect that in this blog. So for 2016 I’m going to have two segments in my blog. The first segment is going to be for newbies.  I’m going to call it Excel expert-once-a-beginnerNovice 5m tip. A short Excel tip that you can implement in 5 minutes or less, something you can use to generate volume of use. Because in the beginning of your Excel journey it will be about showing up and doing something – learning how to create a simple formula and copy it down. Getting your spreadsheet to fit on a page. Learning and practising one or two keyboard shortcuts a week.  Tips on creating an Excel habit so that improving and learning Excel becomes a simple something you build into your day.

sean_maguire_musicianIn the second segment it’s going to be about the more advanced stuff. The stuff that allows you to speed up what you do, to get smarter. I plan to cover the type of topics that may take you a bit of time to learn but will repay your time investment many times over. They will often be based on questions I get answered in class. I’m going to call this  For Excel Adepts. I’m also going to be mentioning books/websites that I come across that help create the structures that allow you to learn more quickly and deeply, to help you grow and deepen your already existing mastery.

By the way the picture on the left is of Sean Maguire (the Irish traditional fiddle virtuoso, not the teen idol). He’s been called the Jimi Hendrix of Irish traditional fiddle playing. If you want to hear true musical mastery, check out this video of him in action.  

As always, if you have any suggestions/ideas please let me know :-)




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