Archive for the ‘work and then work some more’ Category

One more comment on the book, Talent is Overrated before I move on to Outliers. This book has basically the same message as The Talent Code: The key to reaching world-class levels of performance is hard, “deep” practice and expert coaching. Probably the most valuable section concerns the nature of effective practice, what Colvin calls “deliberate practice” (practice which develops skills to a high level). I like this because it can be applied to so many areas of life. Here are the five traits of “deliberate practice”:

1. It’s designed specifically to improve performance. And this almost always requires an instructor. Left to ourselves, we tend to practice only what we do well. A teacher can force us to work on our weaknesses. Colvin notes, “anyone who thinks they’ve outgrown the benefits of a teacher’s help should at least question that view. There’s a reason why the world’s best golfers still go to teachers. One of those reasons goes beyond the teacher’s knowledge. It’s his or her ability to see you in ways that you cannot see yourself. . . deliberate practice requires that one identify certain sharply defined elements of performance that need to be improved, and then work on them.” (pp. 67-68)

2. It can be repeated a lot. “High repetition is the most important difference between deliberate practice of a task and performing the task for real, when it counts. . . Top performers repeat their practice activities to stultifying extent.” (p. 69)

3. Feedback on results is continuously available. “You can work on technique all you like, but if you can’tsee the effects, two things will happen: You won’t get any better, and you’ll stop caring.” (p. 70)

4. It’s highly demanding mentally. “Deliberate practice is above all an effort of focus and concentration. . . . A finding that is remarkably consistent across disciplines is that four or five hours a day seems to be the upper limit of deliberate practice, and this is frequently accomplished in sessions lasting no more than an hour to ninety minutes. The best violinists in the Berlin study, for example, practiced about three and a half hours a day, typically in two or three sessions.” (pp. 70-71)

5. It isn’t much fun. “Doing things we know how to do well is enjoyable, and that’s exactly the opposite of what deliberate practice demands. Instead of doing what we’re good at, we insistently seek out what we’re not good at. Then we identify the painful, difficult activities that will make us better and do those things over and over.” (p. 71)

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