Hustler’s Mantra: Practice deliberately
"The thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That's it. And what's more, the people at the very top don't work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder." - Malcolm Gladwell
Most of the time, we are satisfied with being good at what we usually do but learning something that we aren't familiar with has always been a challenge for us, we struggle, we make mistakes and tend to give up on learning that new skill altogether. So what do we need to do to get better at something? And what do the people who master their skills do differently from the rest of us?
The answer is they believe and act by the words "Deliberate practice makes a man perfect"
Does this sound familiar? All of us must've heard this piece of advice from our teachers, parents, mentors, anybody and everybody at some point of our life. However, science has also proven their sage words right. To become an expert in anything, we need to practice deliberately.
Deliberate practice is a technique for improving our performance at anything, based on constant feedback and working at the edge of our abilities. Successful people in every field use it to build up their expertise and also to master new skills.
You must be wondering how deliberate practice is different from the regular practice that most of us go through. Well, deliberate practice is a focused form of practice where you proactively look for improvement in whatever skill you are trying to become better.One of my favorite examples of how deliberate practice is different from regular practice is discussed by Geoffery Colvin in his article "Secrets of greatness." He says that "Simply hitting a bucket of balls is not deliberate practice, which is why most golfers don't get better. Hitting an eight-iron 300 times with a goal of leaving the ball within 20 feet of the pin 80 percent of the time,continually observing results and making appropriate adjustments, and doing that for hours every day - that's deliberate practice."
Generally, people perceive talent as something that we are either born with or not. We either inherit it naturally or we don't. People believe that it's the magical potion to all the success that's happening around them but we sure do know that it's also the number one reason why they are reluctant to work hard and fail. Scientist Anders Ericsson who is internationally recognized for his researches in the psychological nature of expertise and human performance says “The belief that one’s abilities are limited by one's genetically prescribed characteristics....manifests itself in all sorts of 'I can't' or 'I'm not' statements."
Mozart, who is popularly called as "genius of geniuses" is a great follower of deliberate practice. Mozart started learning music from his father who is also a musician since he was 4 years old. Whenever he found a piece that was challenging, he would play it over and over again until he was able to play it perfectly.
To find out the secret behind Mozart's and other musicians' success, psychologist John Hayes researched about how long it took the best musicians of all time to create their first great work. He found in his study that nobody,including Mozart,had produced a piece of work of any significance until about 10 years after they had started their career in music. Which means that Mozart achieved mastery not because of his inherited talent from his father but because he practiced long and hard from a very young age.
No amount of inherited talent could overcome the years of practice necessary to create great work. Even Mozart had to practice his skills for a full ten years before creating anything great!
We must also take the same approach towards our work and goals to produce brilliant output. First, identify interest in something, something that we want to develop and subsequently achieve it. Even one hour of focus and deliberate practice to improve those skills will deliver incredible results in the long run. We should strive to do this consistently with focus, grit and commitment. Remember, success is always the result of hard work or even exceptional hard work.