In the world today, the only thing that we are sure of is that it will change. But by the words of Jeff Bezos, we need to focus on the things that won’t change, not on the things that will. And this is where meta-skills come into play. A meta-skill is a higher-order skill that allows other skills to be used and developed. This basically means that in order to master lower level skills, you need to master their common denominator.
So if you can master these 3 meta-skills below, you can achieve almost anything in life:
1. Building Habits
Aristotle used to say “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit,” and Jim Rohn agreed by adding “Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.”
We can find strong proof of the importance of habits everywhere in the world, from business to sports to education and most business books tell us to form habits in this or that. But rarely do we learn how to build habits and are presented with a step-by-step process of doing that.
I’ve read so many books about building habits but most of them lack at least a couple of steps which would help you build a habit. Eventually, I managed to build my own system. This system helped me build a reading and a writing habit and currently, I’m building a health habit with it.
I took the time to learn how to build habits – any habits – and it gave me a massive payoff. I can now build any habit if I want to and this meta-skill will be an invaluable tool for the rest of my life and it can be in yours too. Habits train you to do one single action every single day until it becomes a part of who you are and the next meta-skill perfectly compliments this one.
2. Small Actions
Everyone celebrates Elon Musk’s motivation to work 28 hours a day but, I put my focus on a smaller “celebrity” that has:
- Written 5 bestselling books
- Earned a computer science Ph.D. from MIT
- Became a father of three
- Obtained a tenured professorship at Georgetown
And he did all of this while shutting off work at 5:00 p.m. every single day and keeping the weekend just for his family. Oh and I forgot to mention – he did all of this by the age of 33. His name is Cal Newport.
Cal never runs on 100% of his speed because he understands that life isn’t a 100-meter dash, it’s a never-ending marathon and if you go all in the beginning, you will just burn out a couple of kilometers in the race.
Eric Edmeades said, “I do less every single day to do more in a year” and if you can keep doing small everyday actions, they will lead you to achieve mastery in life. The reading habit I started – doing only 20 pages a day – accumulated into 47 books in a year. That is the power of small actions.
So many books and articles rave about self-awareness today and hail it as one of the strongest meta-skills you can have. When they asked Gary Vaynerchuk what is the one skill people should master today, his response was “Self-Awareness.”
Self-awareness is the ability to consciously understand and know your own character, personality, and feelings. Self-awareness has a couple of layers but it’s best to only go 2 layers deep. You are on Level 0 when you are so long on autopilot that you forget that you’re on autopilot. Level 0 is a level where you have no self-awareness. On level 1 you have some metacognition (you have thoughts about your thoughts) and you think about the thoughts you have in your head. Level 2 is thinking about your mental models (where your thoughts originate and why).
A good example of this is, a guy who you hate from work just pulled a prank on you in front of the entire office. You became mad and as soon as you came home, you had a fight with your wife. On level 0, you just do it. On Level 1 you think “Maybe I’m not mad at my wife at all- this is just the consequence of the guy from work.” On Level 2 you realize that you don’t need to answer the prank by hating the guy or being angry, just accept that it was just a prank, smile or laugh, and continue with your day.
Self Awareness will help you get better at anything faster, it will help you professionally, personally, and socially; and as soon as you master it, the sooner you can reap the rewards from it.
In a world where the only constant is change, we need to find and focus on the skills that won’t change. And with that, we have seen 3 meta-skills that we should learn to achieve mastery in our life.