• John Panepinto

Becoming a High Performer - How To Master Your Skill Set Like The Top 1%

Updated: Dec 30, 2020


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"Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." - Abraham Lincoln

In order to become truly great at your craft, you must master the art of building your skillset.

Building your skillset is just like sharpening your tools for hunting; it is something you must continuously practice and keep up with.

Without sharpening your tools, your tools will become dull – in turn, you become incapable of performing the job that must be done, at the quality it must be done at.

If you want to achieve greatness in your craft, it is going to require that your tools be razor-sharp.

However, very few people actually put in the effort to identify these key skills and set up the right systems to build them consistently.

Today I am going to teach you the best approach to building a razor-sharp skill set that will put you in the top 1% of achievers in your craft.

Focus on What's Important To The Role You Play:

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Let’s use basketball as an example.

In basketball, there are a variety of skills that are important to the game – dribbling, shooting, finishing ability, rebounding, the list goes on.

Depending on your role – some skills will be more important than others. For example, for a point guard – their dribbling ability and shooting ability are going to be much more important and impactful on the game than their rebounding ability.

If a guard can dribble and shoot really well but cant rebound very well, they can still be a great point guard and contributor.

If a guard can’t dribble or shoot really well but can rebound really well – they will find themselves out of the rotation and not getting any playing time.

In turn, not all skills are built equal. Some are much more important than others.

This is the same with every other craft or profession - there will always be a particular set of key skills that must be mastered depending on your role.

When you are able to identify and master those key skills, you will be able to perform to the highest of levels.

Start By Identifying Your Key Skills:

Start by identifying the high ROI, key skills of your role.

My blog on compounded learning outlines how you can use mentors, experience, podcasts, and other learning methods to give you well-needed answers to things like this.

In order to find these skills, you must think to yourself and find the answers to these questions:

- What am I responsible for accomplishing in my role?

- What skills are required in accomplishing those tasks?

- Which of those skills are most important?

- Which skills separate the high performers from the average performers?

- What are the fundamentals?

In building a skill set, always start with the fundamentals.

Pick the top four most important skills that you must master – focus on those.

Depending on your craft, it may be tempting to dabble with flashy skills that aren’t necessarily so important, and there may be tons of skills to pick from.

But you must stay focused on the most important ones, to begin with.

Pick the two to four fundamental skills of your craft, and the role you play within it.

These will be the key skills that you will focus on.

Think of these selected key skills as the tools that you must sharpen.

The Three Possible States a Skill Will Be In:

Now that you have identified your key skills, it is time to recognize the three states a particular skill will be in at all times.

  • Immersion

  • Maintenance

  • Disregard

Immersion (the best way to get really good at something)

  • When you completely immerse yourself in improving at a particular skill. You eat, sleep, and repeat, day after day with a particular skill.

  • Practice it with high frequency

  • You put the majority of your effort and focus into mastering and advancing in this skill, with a goal of getting to a point of mastery.

Goal = Mastery

Maintenance (a good way of maintaining skills)

  • When you do just enough of a particular skill to maintain your current skill level at it.

  • Practice it, but to a less frequent degree

  • The goal here is to maintain your current skill level.


Goal = Maintain current skill-level

Disregard (best saved for skills that have a low ROI)

  • When you don’t put effort or energy into improving a particular skill, you ignore it.

  • Practice to a minimum degree

  • This is best saved for skills that don’t matter much at the moment.

Goal = Ignore the skill and put your time elsewhere.

All of your key skills should always be in either a state of immersion or maintenance.

Your low ROI skills should be in a state of disregard (until you have mastered all of the fundamental key skills and are ready to master new ones).


The problem is that most people have their most important skills in states of maintenance or disregard - and then they wonder and ask themselves "why am I not performing at a high-level?" or "why does everyone else seem to be performing better than me?".


It's no secret. This is a major differentiator.

The Best Approach To Building a Skill set – Immersion Periods

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Most people try to improve at too many things at once. They become a jack of all trades, but a master of none.

It doesn’t work very well, and it never amounts to greatness.

You must become a master of each skill, one at a time, through immersion periods.

Given that there isn’t enough time in the day to become a master at all skills at once; immersion periods have proven to be the best way to build a skill set.

Take my Muay Thai Gym for an example. Muay Thai is a martial art that entails 5 key skills; punching, kicking, knees, elbows, and clinching.

Instead of training their gym members all five key skills at once over the course of our 1-hour gym session – they use immersion periods.

For two weeks, we immerse ourselves and dedicate all of our classes to one skill set (e.g. kicking). We become excellent at that skill by the end of those two weeks – far better than if we had tried learning the other four in addition to it, during the same period.

Then for the next two weeks, we immerse ourselves in the next skill (e.g. elbows) – and so on, and so on.

This is extremely effective and it enables you to become a master of a particular skill.

Once you master that skill, you can move it into a state of maintenance (to maintain your new-found skill level) and begin immersing yourself in the next skill.

Why Immersion Periods Are The Best Approach

Immersion periods are the best approach to building a razor-sharp skill set, and they should be used for every craft.

Focus on one skill for a period of time. Give it all your effort, focus, and dedication.

Learn the ins and outs of that skill, how the pro’s do it, then practice and practice some more, till you master it.

Kobe Bryant was famous for shooting the same shot over and over again, for hours on end till he mastered it. Not many NBA players do this, but that’s also a big reason why Kobe was able to separate himself from the pack, and how he was able to become a master of his craft.


How To Do an Immersion Period for a Skillset:

So how exactly do you set-up an immersion period?

It really depends on your time-frame (x-axis) as well as your desired skill-level (y-axis). The longer you immerse yourself in a skill, the higher your skill-level will become.

If it is something small like studying for a test with 4 topics, you can set up an immersion period by allocating a particular topic to each day.

  • Monday = Topic 1

  • Tuesday = Topic 2

  • Wednesday = Topic 3

  • Thursday = Topic 4

  • Friday = Refine & Review All (maintenance)

This will be far more effective than if you had tried to go over each topic on each of the four days. Your knowledge simply won’t be as rich as it could be.

This is a short-term example.

On a longer-term basis, you might want to extend your immersion periods out a bit longer to become better at the particular skill:

Example of an Immersion Period - Sales Rep for a Tech Startup:


Fundamental Skills

1. Cold calling

2. Writing Personalized Emails

3. Time Management (focusing on high ROI tasks)


Immersion Period Phase 1 – Master Cold Calling (2 weeks)

- For two weeks immerse yourself in all things relating to cold-calling

- Educate yourself via mentors, reading, hands-on experience, and podcasts on best practices

Skills in Maintenance = Emails + Time Management

Immersion Period Phase 2 – Master Writing Personalized Emails (2 weeks)

- For two weeks immerse yourself in all things relating to writing personalized emails

- Educate yourself via mentors, reading, hands-on experience, and podcasts on best practices

Skills in Maintenance = Cold calling + Time Management

Immersion Period Phase 3 – Master Time Management (2 weeks)

- For two weeks immerse yourself in all things relating to time management and the high ROI tasks of your role

- Educate yourself via mentors, reading, hands-on experience, and podcasts on best practices

Skills in Maintenance = Cold Calling + Emails

By the end of these 6 weeks, you will be leaps and bounds ahead of where you would’ve been had you attempted to scattered your focus or neglected or organizing your time this way.

This is exactly how you build the sharpest of toolsets.

The Bottom Line:

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Immersion is best for mastery.

In doing this, you will master the fundamental skills that are key to excelling at what it is you do.

Beyond this – you can venture out into further skill sets that will also be useful, using the same system.


If you’re looking for the best way to developing the fundamental skills, mindsets, and habits you need to succeed in life, then look no further than my “8 Steps” Program.


It’s designed to turn lost, unenthusiastic ‘creatures of circumstances’ into confident, purpose-driven, go-getters who go out and conquer all areas of their life simultaneously - within a matter of weeks. So if that’s you, consider taking a chance and changing your life.

In fact, here’s some of what you’ll discover with the 8 Steps program:

  • Learn exactly how to find your purpose in life, drown out all the external noise, and become the master of your mindset.

  • How to 10x your discipline and mental will-power, with a simple and powerful strategy that is being kept a secret from the masses.

  • Learn exactly how to achieve your biggest goals, dreams, and aspirations in life

  • How to optimize all major areas of your life simultaneously (health, wealth, relationships, and happiness) for tremendous growth and success.

  • …and much, much more.

So, if you want to start crushing it in all areas of your life and achieving your biggest goals, without doing things that create painful regrets later on in life, consider checking out the 8 Steps program today.

Once you get really good at the fundamentals, you will then learn that you’re fighting for inches amongst the other top performers – which is where those additional skills come into play and can be worked on.

Never neglect the fundamentals, and use immersion periods to become a master of them.

Now go get after it!

My Challenge To You:

Identify your fundamental skills – set up an immersion period: with distinct phases dedicated to mastering each!