A skill is the learned ability to perform an action with determined results and with good execution. Here is an approach that explains the optimum use of the head, heart and the hands to learn a skill.

What is a skill?

There are many definitions of the word, “skill”. A comprehensive (complicated) one is from Wikipedia:

A skill is the learned ability to perform an action with determined results with good execution often within a given amount of time, energy, or both.

or a much simpler one like, The ability that enables you to do something well. (Collins dictionary)

I want to suggest that skill is the ability to use our head, heart, and hands efficiently to perform a task. In other words, you need to have knowledge in your head, an interest, or an emotional involvement in your heart and have the dexterity in your hands (i.e. the physical abilities) to execute it well.

Learning a new skill and mastering it involves an interplay of these three. In general, we could say, to learn a skill, the head, and the heart are the masters or decision makers. The hand is a slave and just follows the other two.

How do we learn skills?

Stage one: The Explorer

Let us consider the skills of riding a bicycle. First, we get interested to learn it. This initial interest or curiosity makes us explore more about it. We may explore many skills in our life, but only a few ignites a spark in our hearts. Once we become interested, we move to the next stage. In stage one, the head leads, the heart decides, and the hands follow.

Stage two: The Novice

In this stage we start using our head to learn the applied knowledge and various aspects of the skill. Initially as a novice, we use a lot of headspace, meaning, we must concentrate on each aspect of the skill -balancing, pedaling, steering etc. In this stage, the head still leads, but the heart has the final say. If the heart continues to be emotionally involved, we learn and advance; otherwise, we drop out.

Stage three: The Skilled Worker

Gradually, the discrete actions are combined into one cohesive skill, bicycle riding. Once this synthesis happens, the initial pain of learning the skill disappears and we start becoming good at it. If we enjoy the skill, we practice it more and upskill ourselves. Also, if we think the skill is important, say, for our career development, it becomes another motivation to improve our competence. Moving to the next stage of improving our capability or dexterity of our hands depends upon the equal involvement of both the heart and the head.

Stage four: The Expert

If the motivation from the head and heart is available consistently for a considerable length of time, we gain experience. With experience the head can develop innovative ideas and brand-new connections. As a result, we discover hacks to refine our skill. Few also develop an interest to share this learning to others and become teachers, authors, or mentors. All these loops back to keep the interest and enjoyment alive. Time is a key factor here. Our ability increases with the length of time we bring our head and heart to our hands

At any time, whenever our joy or interest wanes, and if we have the choice, we drop out. If we must continue, because it is a source of income for example, it becomes a chore.

Stage five: The star

This is achieved by a rare few. The crucial factor here is the heart. If we keep the sparks of our interests alive, there is a chance they can ignite the raging fire of passion in us. Passion could hasten the entire process of upskilling and launch us to great heights of skill mastery. The heart not only leads, but it also allows frictionless integration of all three — the head, the heart, and the hands!

P.S : My thoughts were inspired by: “The four stages of competence”

Four stages of competence — Wikipedia

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