On Deliberate Practice

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

– Albert Einstein

Last Updated on

Introduction

Hi.

When you’re doing a certain thing every day and realize that your work is not improving, what would you do?

You might be writing an email every morning to your team, selling goods to your customers every week, or maybe coding a piece of software when everyone’s sleeping.

But are you sure the quality of work is improving with the time spent?

If the answer is no, you’re pretty much wasting your time. But this is also a great opportunity.

Think about it – how awesome it is to turn your daily routines into great learning time.

If you can change your perspective and master what you do on a daily basis, you’ll be unstoppable.

Today we’re going to talk about deliberate practice – the key to master anything.

Whats and Whys of Deliberate Practice

Deliberate practice refers to a special type of practice that is purposeful and systematic. While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance. [1]

We assume putting more hours improve your work without much thought.

But that’s not really the case.

Once we get used to a certain task, our brains strops learning and the performance gets plateaued.

This is because they try to save energy whenever they can.

More repetitions don’t lead to better performance.

You don’t “think” about how to take a shower, to eat, and to sleep. They become a part of our habits. If you think everything you do, you’d be exhausted pretty soon.

Because of this brain function, we unconsciously skip putting deep thoughts and concentration on even things we want to improve.

What’s the solution here?

Anders Ericsson states, “the differences between expert performers and normal adults reflect a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain.”

To be the best at anything, you need to improve not only the quantity of time spending, but also the quality of it, deliberately.

Now, let’s look at hows of deliberate practice.

Hows of Deliberate Practice

First, it’s critical to realize why you’re getting the same results over and over again.

To identify what’s missing, measure your performance at any moment.

Shooting free throws? Don’t just randomly shoot. Measure the success percentage.

Writing sales emails? Don’t just blast messages. Measure the return rate.

If what you do is hard to measure by numbers, like the quality of writing, get constant feedback from coaches and peers.

Be careful about who to get feedback from. If you have too many opinions, you’d have a hard time picking which feedback to implement. Also, some of the feedback might not be good ones.

Once you identify what to improve, work on it relentlessly.

In Quiet, Susan Cain wrote that deliberate practice is better done alone. [2]

This is because deliberate practice requires intense concentration, and other people are just distractions.

Whether of games or music, the best performers treat “serious study alone” as the strongest predictor of achievements. Cain pointed out that elite musicians treat group sessions as “leisure” compared to solo practice.

The time without deliberate practice is also counter-productive because it reinforces your bad habits preventing you from improving.

Measure what you do, identify where to improve, and spend significant time with deep concentration to improve what you do. This is the formula for deliberate practice.

Q&A

“I’ve been practicing deliberately but not seeing an improvement.”

Many people fail because they try too many things at once.

When you measure what you do and start working to improve it, make sure you pick just one or two, very specifically.

Doing so, you can identify what can contribute to the improvements.

For instance, improve your writing by avoiding specific phrases or doing more interviews for reference than trying all the feedback you received.

Note

[1] https://jamesclear.com/deliberate-practice-theory

[2] https://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Power-Introverts-World-Talking-ebook/dp/B004J4WNL2

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