This Lesser-Known 5–3–1 Plan Is How Success Mentor, Darren Hardy, Develops Skills With Ease

I've learned many things from Darren Hardy. But this 5-3-1 method is perhaps the most impactful one.

May 3, 2022

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The author with Darren Hardy at one of his Business Forums
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    If you are not growing, you are dying.

    The same is true for your skills. This is why professional athletes and top performers keep on practicing regularly long after they reach the pinnacle of their careers. As a physician, even once you’re board-certified, you need to continue honing your skills, practicing your techniques, reviewing your past cases, and so on. Plus, we know learning new skills keeps your brain sharp as you age.

    Now, regardless of whether you’re looking to further develop your existing skills, or acquire new ones, you need a plan.

    Enter the 5–3–1 plan

    My mentor, Darren Hardy, swears by this method for personal growth and development.

    He says that in order to learn or develop a new skill, you need to immerse yourself in it for a certain period of time. At least 90 days but it can be longer. In his Living Your Best Year Ever book, he recommends making this skill the “theme” for an entire quarter.

    Once you’ve decided what the theme for your quarter will be, it’s time to craft the plan.

    The 5 represents the number of books you will study on the subject during the quarter.

    Notice I said study, not read.

    Let’s say you want to develop your leadership skills this quarter. Think of it as taking a leadership class in college. Except this time, you’ll put together your curriculum, starting with these 5 books.

    You will read, dog-ear, take notes, summarize and fully immerse yourself in these 5 books and these books only during the quarter.

    The 3 represents audio programs you will study on the subject — Remember those tapes your dad listened to in the car? Just like those tapes.

    Your brain learns better through different stimuli.

    While audio programs are not as common as they used to be (I still have mp3’s of Jim Rohn’s seminars in my iPhone!), the concept remains the same. If audio is not your thing, try online courses. Sign up for 3 and study them.

    Finally, the 1 is a seminar or live event you should attend on the subject during the quarter.

    Ideally, you want this to be an immersive event, lasting at least a full day, preferably a weekend, and off-site.

    Again, the goal is full immersion. Getting you out of your day to day environment so you can consume the information in a different manner. You’ll discuss your ideas with others learning the same things and you’ll enrich each other.

    This works for any skill you want to develop.

    In the years I worked with Darren, I met people (at his live events, of course!) who followed this plan to become better spouses, learn marketing, improve their diagnostic skills, become more productive… You name it.


    One quarter of full immersion into any skill and you have no choice but to improve it.

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