Most people do as little as they can get away with. Some people make an effort to improve at their craft but do it inefficiently. A very select few use the idea of deliberate practice to become the best they can be.
Deliberate practice isn’t just practicing. It’s practicing in a particular way, with a clear focus on the purpose of that practice.
Deliberate practice is hard to do. But, it’s the way to become great at something. The greatest musicians, comedians, athletes, chess players, and authors all used deliberate practice to become the best they could be. Deliberate practice applies to all fields.
Deliberate practice is the surest path to mastery!
Try these techniques to start your deliberate practice:
1. Showing up is critical, but insufficient. You can’t perform deliberate practice if you don’t practice. But just showing up isn’t enough. There are plenty of people that mindlessly put in their time, but deliberate practice is much more than this.
- Plenty of people show up to work every day, but how many of them are making their best effort to improve at their craft?
- Plenty of high school kids show up to basketball practice, but how many of them become great high school players?
2. Have a clear goal for each practice session. Be clear on what you plan on accomplishing with your practice session. A few examples:
- Improve your ability to do fast and clean chord changes between an F-chord and C-chord on the guitar.
- Shoot free-throws under pressure. Make 300 before quitting.
- Learn 10 new vocabulary words in Russian and be able to spell them 100% correctly.
3. Determine the most important tasks. Imagine you wanted to make your legs stronger. There are a hundred different exercises you could do, but there are a few that really stand out. The other exercises will keep you busy but wouldn’t be the most effective options.
- Deliberate practice requires doing the thing that delivers the most results. This never seems to be the easiest thing. Deliberate practice requires doing the most effective thing, even if it’s the hardest thing.
4. Focus is critical. Your mind must be 100% on the task, or your practice time isn’t deliberate. For the duration of your practice, give your mind a break and forget about your bills, love life, weekend, or challenges. Put all of your attention on your practice.
5. Measure your progress. If you’re shooting until you make 200 free throws, how many shots did it take to sink 200? If you’re working on the speed of your chord changes, how many did you perform? How many can you do in one minute?
- You can’t determine how well you’re doing if you don’t measure your results. How will you know whether or not you can move on to another area of focus?
6. Find a coach. The best in every field have a coach. The best pianists in the world have a teacher, or multiple teachers. The best golf players have coaches. You’ll get better feedback from a coach than you can get from yourself. Great achievers have great coaches.
Deliberate practice is the most reliable way to become great at anything. Deliberate practice is very effective but challenging. Many experts believe that it’s only possible to perform true deliberate practice for a few hours each day. It requires so much focus that there’s a limit to how much you can do.
Apply these ideas to your area of interest. It doesn’t matter if you’re in sales, make doughnuts, or want to learn how to paint better landscapes. Deliberate practice is the key to increasing your skill.