Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Art of Deliberate Practice

In Why Talent Is Overrated, writer Geoff Colvin declares that the “conventional wisdom about ‘natural’ talent is a myth.”  If natural talent is a myth......What separates good leaders from truly great ones?  Deliberate practice is the key ingredient related to talent in all fields.  Deliberate practice is not just about working harder or the “practice makes perfect” model. 

Deliberate practice is designed with clear objectives and goals in mind.  When top musicians, athletes, etc. practice, they break down their skill into specifically defined elements. After breaking down the skill into parts, the individual relentlessly works on the element they need to improve most. During the entire practice session, they will only focus on that one aspect.  That is what separates good from great in all areas of life.  

The author of the book also outlines 8 key principles related to deliberate practice.  Apply each of these 8 principles to your work and greatness will certainly follow.

  1. Deliberate practice is designed specifically to improve performance.
  2. Deliberate practice can be repeated a lot.
  3. Feedback on results is continuously available. 
  4. It's highly demanding mentally. 
  5. It's hard.
  6. It occurs before the work in the form of planning
  7. It occurs during the work in the form of action
  8. It occurs after the work in the form of reflection

The bottom line is that we all have the same amount of time in our day.  It is how we spend our time that truly matters.  Often we will increase the time devoted to an initiative and expect different results.  It isn't necessarily the time that it is the issue.  It is the intensity in which we utilize the time given. 
Change doesn't occur overnight and it certainly will not be sustained without continued efforts.  Repetition alone won’t get you to the level of excellence you desire.  It can also true that you won’t reach greatness  without it. Keep in mind that practice will not make perfect.  Only "Perfect Practice" makes perfect!
Deliberate practice is the key to your improvement efforts. Make sure everything you do is on purpose.  You must be intentional in your thoughts, words, and actions.  
Be Deliberate, Be Intentional, Be Great

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