Deliberate Practice

“Practice makes perfect”. Or does it? We are brought up being told that practice is the key to attain proficiency in most anything. In school we practice throwing a baseball, playing the piano, reciting the times tables and a thousand other examples of practice. The lesson we soon learn is that if you repeat something often enough you get good at it.

To an extent this is true. As we practice we refine our approach here and there. Practice at physical activity builds coordination and muscle strength. Practice of mental activity makes us faster and more proficient at whatever task we are practicing. To a limit. Anyone who has practiced anything extensively finds that they reach a plateau – a point where performance no longer improves. Repeating the same thing over and over builds general ability and makes complex things easier to do. But there comes a point when nothing improves. We just keep doing the same thing over and over.

People who are training to get better and better at something must learn to improve their performance. This kind of practice is called “deliberate practice”. It is about refining our practice, learning to improve performance, and making it a bit better each time. It take concentration and a lot of work. It requires careful observation, thinking and adjustments in the way we do whatever we are practicing.

James Clear wrote an article on this that provides examples of people who have used deliberate practice to continuously improve their performance. Golfer Ben Hogan, Benjamin Franklin, sushi chef Jiro Ono, martial artist Josh Waitzkin and chess master Magnus Carlsen are a few such examples discussed in Clear’s article. Those that use a highly focused and disciplined form of deliberate practice get better and better all the time. They do not plateau unless they reach some inherent physical limitation. Even then they may find a way to exceed such limits.

If you merely want to get good at something practice. If you want to get great at something you must learn deliberate practice. It takes a lot of commitment and persistence, but it pays off.

Read Clear’s article here to learn more about deliberate practice.

Learn how to get great at something. What would you like to be great at?

Learn how you can achieve more and realize your goals in my book, The Success Essentials.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.