Becoming a Shifu: The Secret to Mastery

During the national lockdown this year I presented my second Toastmasters speech project an online Makerere Gavel club meeting. My speech was entitled “Becoming a Shifu” aimed to share some researched concepts on a common powerful secret world top experts use in life. At the end of my speech my colleagues were astonished and amazed by the new perspectives I  presented so I thought to myself why not share with you in this article. Perhaps this piece can add value to you and shape a new perspective in your approach to life.

The word “Shifu” is a Chinese word whose English translation is a skilled person or master. The first time I heard of this word was in an animation called Kungu Fu Panda. It is about a fat panda that was chosen to be the next dragon warrior and had to be taught kung fu by master “Shifu”, a great warrior to defend the home village. This is one hilarious animation which I recommend you watch with family, at the end of it you will want to thank you because of its funny scenes.

The Secret to Mastery
This secret is the power of habit. Yes, it’s habit, it sounds quite simple right. I mean we have always been hearing this word from our early childhood concerning good and bad habits to even now a point where washing hands is being stressed as a healthy habit in this COVID-19 pandemic. In life today the habits you decide your future. One of the key aspects to becoming a top world expert is the 10,000-hour rule which states that it requires you to invest 10,000 hours to gain full mastery of any field. It was based on research carried out in the early 1990s by Swedish psychologist called K. Anders Ericson on world top chess players, musicians, and also violinists from the Berlin elite academy of music.

Breaking down the 10,000 hours

If I am to break it down for you 10,000 hours means putting in a minimum of 3 hours each day Monday to Sunday for 10 good years or 4 hours a week Monday to Friday for the same period. And well an interesting reality is that motivation only gets you started but it’s a habit that will keep you growing. Habits are hard to break and hard to create but we unknowingly acquire them as we live. That is why you will notice it is easy to seat down and write down your fitness goals of  doing 30 seat ups and 20 push-ups each day but within a few days you even forget what you planned to do. This creates a big question which is how can we acquire new habits.

Google knows everything today and if you are to ask it, it will tell you to create daily reminders, to get an accountability partner and many different suggestions but today it is not Google speaking into your life but Edmund Walusimbi. From my experience, I can tell you that one good way to generate a habit is by getting emotionally attached to it and visualizing the end goal. That emotional attachment will give you drive towards that you have in mind.

Start your countdown of 66 days
In 2009 researchers at University College of London experiments to determine how long it takes for one to establish a new habit and their results suggested an average of 66 days. Those are roughly 2 months and 5 days. Two things I can promise you as you start on this journey of becoming a Shifu. One is that it won’t be easy as you decide to build a habit, there will be tough days when you won’t want to do that daily routine. The second is the assurance that in the end it will worth it.

Hopefully 3 months down the road we shall cross paths and you will tell me how you kicked your journey on the 10,000-hour rule of gaining mastery and becoming a Shifu.
I hope this piece has been able to add some value to you, Cheers, and let us keep striving to become the best we truly destined to be.