A model to learn more efficiently

A model to learn more efficiently

We all want to make progress fast. However, mastering a skill takes time and the learning process has many (emotional) ups and downs.

For most of us becoming an expert takes at least 10.000 hours of practice. Many don’t reach that point; they become disillusioned and demotivated along the way.

Luckily there is a simple model to help you. The inchworm concept helps you to acquire skills faster and more efficient.

If you choose a skill and rate, honestly, all the decisions you made last month practicing that skill from -3 (terrible) to +3 (best) your graph would look like this:


The result is a bell-curved graph where the right side represents your best decisions and the left side your worst.

As you acquire new skills, in the learning zone, your best will get better: the graph stretches to the right.


When you are fresh and well rested you make your best decisions putting the new skills acquired in step 1 to use. Unfortunately that does not happen very often since peak performance takes a lot of energy.

To improve your skillset as a whole focus on fixing the terrible mistakes you make.


As a result the left side of the graph steps forward. In combination with step 1 the whole graph has moved forward. This is very important.


Imagine that in step 2 you did not focus on fixing your terrible mistakes. Instead you decided to add new skills again as you did in step 1.

The graph would look very stretched to the right while the left side remains in the same position.

At your best you are now even more amazing. However, when you perform solid or terrible you still make the same mistakes as before you learned the new skills.

This is extremely frustrating. Making terrible mistakes while you can be great is highly demotivating.

Luckily, in step 2 you improved your weakness before adding new skills following the philosophy of via negativa. With the whole graph having moved over to the right your mistakes will be smaller than before.

This saves frustration, which frees up mental space making it easier to improve your best again as shown below in step 3.


It can be tempting to only focus on improving your strengths; however improving your weakness will speed up your progress.

This simple concept can be used as a framework to structure your learning. The experience is more pleasant making it more likely that you reach mastery.

In the video below I explain the concept in more detail.

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